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NYC church awaits return of Maersk Alabama member

The dramatic hostage situation with Somali pirates has been closely followed by a Baptist church in Harlem attended by one of its crew members.

William Rios is a frequent presence in the pews of Second St. John Baptist Church when he is not at sea. He was aboard the Maersk Alabama when it was attacked by pirates who held the captain hostage for five days.

The Rev. Robert Jones of Second St. John Baptist Church told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the church is ``going to receive him with open arms'' when Rios returns to New York and that members are ``just thanking God for his safe return.''

Jones said that Rios and his wife, Sherry, were married at his church, and that their son William Jr. was christened there. Jones says Rios regales him about his adventures around the world on the high seas.

The church will wait until Rios' return home to decide how celebrate, he said. A woman who answered the phone at the Rios apartment declined to comment, and no one answered the door.

Crew members will reunite with their captain in the Kenyan resort of Mombasa on Wednesday before taking a chartered flight to Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, D.C., where they will meet up with their loved ones in a private reception area.

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