Extra Post: Easter Sunday service on a cattle boat

When you talk with members of the crew of the SS Rock Springs Victory who tended a load of Heifer Project cattle sent to Ethiopia in early 1947, there is one highlight they are sure to tell you about. They had traveled first to Greece to unload UNRRA horses, then through the Suez Canal to Djibouti in Africa where their cattle were unloaded. Now they were on their way home. Bob Heimberger noted in his daily log:

Easter

April 6, Sunday

Had church at 8:15. 22 for communion. On the Red Sea.

But the story doesn’t stop there. Bob has written of this experience:

While in town [while docked in Djibouti] I purchased a little aluminum cup for a souvenir as this appeared to be a common household item the natives used.

Easter Sunday morning . . . it was decided to have Easter Communion on the deck of the ship. In preparation for the Communion they were searching for a Communion Cup or Challis for the wine. The cup I had purchased was used. We and some ship crew members participated in Easter Sunday morning Communion on the Red Sea. I do not know how many different religious faiths that participated. One person had his first Communion. It was a very Ecumenical service. I am fortunate enough to still have this historic Cup in my possession.

The Cup has been half way around the world and served people from Coast to Coast in the United States and people in Canada. The Cup has been used by the seagoing cowboys at each of our [Rock Springs Victory] reunions. It has also been used in our local Grace U.C.C. Church for special occasions. I doubt that any other Challis or Cup can claim such a far reaching Ecumenical history.

Sunday morning on the Rock Springs Victory

The Rock Springs Victory crew meets on the fantail for one of their Sunday morning services. Photo courtesy of Howard Lord

Bob’s cup traveled to the Beyond Hunger event celebrating Heifer International’s 70th anniversary in Milford, Indiana, last September. It’s inscribed: “In 1947 she served sunrise communion on the Red Sea. HPI.”

Rock Springs Victory communion cup and Howard Lord

The communion cup used on the Rock Springs Victory sits on the table next to Howard Lord as he shares his experiences with children at the Beyond Hunger Northern Indiana event. Photo courtesy of Heifer International

Rock Springs Victory cowboys

Rock Springs Victory shipmates Howard Lord, Richard Hoblin, and Bob Heimberger reunite at the Beyond Hunger Northern Indiana event, September 2014. Photo courtesy of Heifer International

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A blessed Easter to all!