By Carol McCracken
Captain Lee Philips sat on his tall stool in the pilot room of the 150 ft. sailboat Peacemaker as MHN boarded her earlier this month. Informally attired in shorts and T-shorts as he was, it took MHN some minutes to adjust to the sheer splendor of the captain’s pilot room. That’s where he gives orders to the crew about the movements of this Barquentine that displaces 380 tons of water.
“This is a microcosom of our land communities,” the captain said of the ship under his control. Peacemaker is a flagship of the Twelve Tribes – the Commonwealth of Israel – a spiritually based community with about 1,000 members in the United States and about the same number overseas. The New England area is called the Noth East Judah tribe and it runs from Maryland west to Missippi and up to Maine. “It’s our goal to get back for today how the first church was years ago – that’s when people shared what they had with others and took care of each other,” said the captain. He referred to the Book of Acts specifically in the Bible.
Sailing with 9 crew members, six teenage boys and three teenage girls, the Peacemaker is short-handed because the usual crew of double that size was needed in other places in the community. Only two passengers were visible during the roughly one hour visit of MHN on board. It was almost ghostlike aboad this floating beauty. That was just an hour or so before departuretime for the Peacemaker. Sailing with the Captain were his wife, Keliyah, and two daughters. Keliyah overseas the galley and makes pottery that is used by the boat and is for sale. The ship has two 400 horsepower engines. Peacemaker entered Portland Harbor in the wake of the Eagle on July 31st and received free docking from the city of Portland. The boat departed Portland, once again in tandom with the Eagle on August 3rd.
The Peacemaker is registered in Georgia and has no home port. She “wanders” from port to port the looking for a berth in a place where she can spread the word of her mission. She was built in Brazil by an Italian family of boatbuilders. The boat was first launched in 1989 under another name. Eventually, she ended up in Savannah, Ga. where it was expected that the owner would complete her rigging. Instead, she sat in the yard for several years until Captain Philips and the Twelve Tribes discovered her. They bought her for a good price and set about making her seaworthy again. “Our vision for the ship is to be a seagoing representation of the life of peace and unity that our Twelve Tribes are living on land in our many communities around the world,” explains some literature the captain gave to MHN.
The Peacemaker was headed for a run up the Maine coast and then down to Salem, Massachusetts. In September, she will head south for her ” Gulf of Mexico Tour” continuing with her mission and training deckhands on sailing skills.
According to the same literature: “We hope that the peculiar character of our ship and its crew will strike a chord in the hearts of other people who are looking for a purpose for their lives.”
MHN thanks Chris Bruni, Portland Pottery, for discovering this story and passing it along to MHN!