February 2019 Newsletter

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Yes, this is the February Newsletter, but sent out in early March so that we could include a report of the Executive Board’s meeting in Nairobi, Kenya.

Those who were at the Charlotte Annual Business Meeting will remember that the Exec. Board was mandated to work with the bidding Chaplaincy Team in planning the 2020 IACAC Conference in Nairobi, Kenya (the bid from Nairobi being the only invitation for 2020 received at that time).

Not all members of the Exec. Board were able to attend the February Board meeting, although through the wonders (and at times, despite the vicissitudes) of modern technology, Stephan, our media officer was able to play a full part in most of the Board meetings, despite remaining in Zurich. Those who did attend made it clear to the host chaplaincy team that the decision to hold the conference in Nairobi could not be confirmed until the Annual Business Meeting in Melbourne in October 2019. At the Charlotte Business Meeting the Board was asked to assess the feasibility of a Nairobi Conference and to give a clear steer to the bidding team.

You will also remember that the Business Meeting agreed that, in future, the Exec Board should be hosted for its February meeting not by the host team for that same year (leaving only six months to plan, prepare or change direction) but by the host team for the following year – giving 18 months to amend and execute plans for the conference. This change has proved really transformative, and the Exec Board were impressed by the Nairobi team’s grasp of planning, but also by their willingness to listen to the advice of the Board (which currently consists of four present or past host chaplains). We met with the CEO of the Kenyan Civil Aviation Authority who made it clear that, for the KCAA to support or engage with the IACAC’s conference, an 18 month timescale was possible, whereas a six month timescale would have been too short.

As to the Exec Board’s response to our time in Kenya; We saw good planning in place, an abundance of suitable conference venues, a level of security that was not intrusive but did serve to underline that Kenya, and its capital, Nairobi, take security very seriously, with every hotel, conference centre, restaurant and shopping arcade ensuring that those entering and those inside can feel reassured throughout their stay. We saw evidence of good partnerships already made with airports (JKIA and Wilson to name but two), local businesses, local charities/non-profits/NGOs, aviation companies, including the KCAA and the possibility of future partnerships well underway.

We met a diverse, talented and experienced team of chaplains, with whom we were able to speak and listen with mutual understanding and respect – and who were generous and hospitable hosts. We visited fields of tea and coffee bushes as far as the eye could see (and saw something of the manufacturing process). And we saw lioins, giraffes, baby rhinos, orphaned elephants, zebras, buffalo, antelope, crocodiles, and hippopotamuses ( or hippopotami if you prefer). The “unseasonably hot” February weather (25-30oC / 77-86oF with a gentle breeze throughout) was cooler than Melbourne, warmer than Indiana or Paris, and much drier than Manchester! Kenya is beautiful and Nairobi a modern high-rise city!

The opportunity to see wildlife at such close (but safe) quarters was undoubtedly the most appealing element of a visit to Nairobi. It’s why tourism in Kenya is the second-largest source of foreign exchange revenue following agriculture with numbers peaking at 1.8 million in 2011 before sliding to 1.49 million in 2013. It will be good to understand this better, and to understand why negative media stories can have such a significant (but not necessarily justified) impact on travel and tourism. The conference there is likely to focus on the work of chaplains with those in greatest need of support, another story to be told about air travel and modern day human migration across, within, to and from the great and beautiful continent of Africa.

We said we would report back to the Association what progress has been made before the Melbourne Conference Business Meeting: The Exec Board strongly recommends to the Conference Business Meeting in Melbourne in 2019, and to our wider membership, that a conference in Nairobi, Kenya in 2020 will be affordable, safe and secure and will be profitable to all who attend. It will be an opportunity to celebrate the vibrancy and future potential of airport chaplaincy in Africa, and to see that reality for ourselves, as so often, African chaplains struggle to attend conferences in Western countries, as it is so often difficult or impossible to get a visa. Nairobi 2020 will be an opportunity to encourage our colleagues on the continent of Africa by our presence and support. Our aim is that every civil aviation chaplain on the African continent will be able to attend, and that, for everyone who attends, accommodation, travel, professional input and the total experience will be of the highest possible standard and best possible value.

The 52nd Annual IACAC Conference will take place in Melbourne, Australia, from Sunday 13 – Friday 18 October, 2019. I invite you to honour the commitment of our Australian members who are so regular in attending conferences in Europe and the United States, by returning the favour and enjoying some fantastic Aussie hospitality. As part of our meeting, the Board heard more detailed plans for Melbourne 2019, and we know already that the phrase “highest possible standard and best possible value” certainly holds true there. Also planned are elements that conference feedback always suggests are most valued by those attending, so there will be plenty of time to listen to and learn from one another as we celebrate Diversity – Embracing Differences as a Gift.

Again, it is always my hope that by meeting in Australia we can bring together the airports of the region (both those with chaplains and those which don’t yet have a chaplaincy team), and encourage the work of airport chaplaincy across that continent and in the Asia-Pacific region. See you next year in Melbourne!

Research among members has found that “Five star” conferences include:

  • Spiritual worship
  • Cultural Exchange
  • Professional Education
  • Relational Interchange and
  • Personal Renewal

I am delighted to say that on this basis I believe both Melbourne and Nairobi will provide us with five star conferences!

The board wants to encourage chaplaincy teams AND national, regional or denominational networks to consider bidding to host a global IACAC conference beyond 2020.

In October 2019, the Board’s Preferred Host Chaplaincy 2020 (Nairobi) will make a presentation to the 2019 Business Meeting allowing the membership to confirm (or not) Nairobi for 2020.

In addition the Board is eager to confirm a Preferred Host Chaplaincy for the 2021 conference at the 2019 Business Meeting, to become ‘Host chaplaincy 2021’.

At the same 2019 conference, the Board is also keen to receive bids from Potential Host candidates for the 2022 conference. Bids will be made by potential host chaplaincies, one of which will become ‘Preferred Host candidate 2022’ who can then proceed to the planning stage (being confirmed as ‘Host chaplaincy 2022’ at the 2020 Business Meeting.)

In short: we need to confirm 2020 and 2021 in Melbourne and to receive bids for following years at the same conference. Please consider and pray about whether your chaplaincy or network might offer to be a potential host candidate.

The Revd George Lane
President, International Association of Civil Aviation Chaplains