President’s Letter | October/November 2020

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

What a tremendous time we had together on October 20th for our Online Conference! It felt amazing to be connected with so many colleagues from all over the world (including Asia which is exceptional for our conference). And how good it is to feel enthusiastic about anything in these very dark times. As I have written in a previous letter, one of the very positive things in this crisis is the creativity developed in faith communities to maintain some kind of fellowship despite the impossibility to meet face to face.

This Online Conference was our way of showing this creativity and it has been extremely rewarding. We had many new chaplains and people who are not used to connect to the IACAC and also the opportunity to learn from fascinating speakers from 4 different continents whom each had some extremely interesting things to share with us and have been amazingly encouraging to us. If you hadn’t registered or haven’t had time to view the several videos of this first Online Conference you can access them on our website at https://www.iacac.aero/conf-prep/ which also includes the live presentation we had with Geoffrey Thomas as well as the full interviews used for the videos on the challenges on the aviation industry and the value of airport chaplaincy. In total that’s more than 4 hours of quality presentations, interviews and interactions with our special guests so take the time to watch them.

Reflecting on this unique experience and the privilege it was for me to supervise this Conference I realized that there was one thing missing: a deeper spiritual time. There was a lot of spirituality in what each of our guest shared and I think Kathy Malcom Hall’s session was particularly deep in that sense, but we could have thought of a more specifically spiritual time.

Let me make it up to you by sharing some personal thoughts on the spiritual dimension of ministry and airport chaplaincy. I was deeply inspired those past days by the thoughts of a French pastor who wrote an article on being a pastor in lockdown. In a very short summary James Woody says that after having put much energy in reorganizing the church services and meetings in order, as I mentioned earlier, to maintain some kind of fellowship and beyond being an organizer and a facilitator of the church’s life (a role that could be played by other members) what remains specific to the role of pastors (and we can include airport chaplains as pastors or pastoral agents) is to bring people to a face to face meeting with God. Isn’t this a wonderful definition of our role as chaplains?

 But isn’t it also a great reminder of our mission. Maybe you are like me and sometimes the passion for the airport, the people who live through it, with it or in it makes you forget that you are an ambassador of the Creator in this specific place and spirituality is limited to specific times, services, celebrations or request of prayer. How do you and I help people of so many faiths, spiritualities, convictions come to that intimate encounter with God? I believe this question becomes particularly accurate in this difficult time when so many things we used to take for granted such as life, health, work… etc. suddenly become so vulnerable and thus so valued. There are many ways in which we can help those whom our paths come across and I’m sure you would have a thousand examples (and I’d love you to share them) but I believe it all starts within each one of us and how we connect to our Creator and reflect this connection around us.

May we feel renewed in this connection in the coming weeks which will be a time of spiritual awaiting and longing for many of us who will soon enter into Advent. Then will come the time of Hanuka and Christmas which are both celebrations of a miracle of God’s presence among his people and celebrations of awaited and finally answered prayers.

Pierre de Mareuil, President
Paris-CDG

Holy Days Of The Month – Sharing and Celebrating Our Traditions

November

24th – Martyrdom of Gru Tegh Bahadur Sahib. Sikh

26th – Thanksgiving USA

29th – First Sunday of Advent. Christian

30th – St Andrews Day. Christian

30th – guru Nanak Birthday. Sikh

30th – Kartik Poornima.  Hindu

December

6th St Nicholas Day. Christian

8th –  Bodhi Day. Buddhist

11th – Hanukkah begins. Jewish

15th – Dhanu Sankranti. Hindu

18th – Hanakkuh ends. Jewish

24th – Christmas Eve. Christian

25th – Christmas Day. Christian

25th – Geeta Jayanti. Hindu

26th – Stephen’s Day. Christian

28th – Holy Innocents. Christian

31st – Watch Night. Christian

IACAC Webinar 3rd of December

Dear friends and colleagues,

We talked about it in June and August, here comes the invitation to the webinar on 3rd December

How to be a relevant airport chaplain in 2021

Webinar on December 3rd  10:00 – 15:30 UTC/GMT

The coronacrisis has had a great impact on our work at the airport. It still does. How do we deal with the changes. What is our role and what can it be? Which ways do we find to stay as relevant as possible?

Grace Davie and Martin Walton will share their thoughts and anlaysis with us. There will be question & answer sessions and short small groups sessions for reflections.

Programme:

10 – 11.30 UTC Presentation and Q&A by prof. Em. Grace Davie on the sociological specifics of the European secularised context with regards to our current crisis and the effects on chaplaincy work. 

11.30 – 12.30 UTC Lunch break (a Lunch Room on Zoom will be open for those who want to have an online lunch together)

12.30 – 14.30 UTC Introduction by and interactive session with Martin Walton on the theological aspects of chaplaincies in general and the perspective of calling – or role – of airport chaplains in particular

14.30 UTC Bar open (closes at 15.30)

This webinar is primarly destined to European chaplains but all are welcome!

Registrations are open from now till November 30th:

REGISTER HERE

I hope we can see you all on this occasion!

Pierre

PS: if yo have any technical issue please contact Stephan Pfenninger.


Grace Davie is a British sociologist of religion well known for her works on religion and secularism in Europe. She was a guest speaker at the Global online IACAC conference of October this year. more about Grace Davie

Martin Walton is professor emeritus of spiritual care and chaplaincy studies at the Protestant Theological University, Groningen, The Netherlands. more about Martin Walton

IACAC Online Conference Report

The IACAC Annual Conference has always played an important part in the life of the association. It was the opportunity for members to come together to renew friendships, learn from each other and share their stories. Each year the conference was hosted in a different country and was a special time for all those able to attend.

2020 promised to be no different with anticipation high at the opportunity to visit Kenya and join the Nairobi airport chaplaincy team as they planned to host the 53rd annual conference. But the COVID19 pandemic stopped us all in our tracks and locked the world down as high rates of infections spread across many countries.  After much prayer and consultation the Nairobi Conference was cancelled for 2020 and rescheduled for 2021. However the desire to come together in some way was still strong and the idea of an online conference through the wonders of digital technology gained momentum.

It took some planning and on the 20th October our first online conference took place. One hundred and nine chaplains registered but for various reasons about 85 eventually logged onto the conference itself.

The theme chosen for the conference was “Challenges Of Chaplaincy In The Changing Aviation World” and each speaker and presentation explored the challenges facing both chaplains and the aviation industry as a whole. Two keynote speakers were featured. Professor Grace Davie, a British Sociologist, spoke on the role of chaplaincy in the context of a secular world. Airports are secular places and so are most airlines but many people who fly often have a strong religious identity, which is not always recognised by the aviation industry. Religion can either be seen as a scapegoat or a huge source of practical support and pastoral care.  COVID19 has provided many opportunities for connections in a digital form as well as personal contact. Anxiety, profound sense of loss, restrictions on movement and job expectations have led to high levels of uncertainty in our workplaces.  Chaplains are often the first responders in these situations and it becomes necessary to find a way to mitigate the most painful moments in such a way that is realistic for all concerned. In their role, chaplains are standing between the secular world of the airport and spirituality of the people. These challenges can provide new opportunities for everyday well-being and practices, which shape life.

The second keynote speaker, Kathy Malcolm Hall, talked on the “Griefs and Uncertainties of Airport Chaplains in 2020” She described grief as a constellation of many things and divided her session into three parts-

‘The What”’ – the concept of what is being suffered worldwide through loss of freedoms, safety, past security of employment leading to grief in its various forms.

‘The  Why’ – the neurobiology of grief and loss . The brain has three sections, which can be trained to interact together to avoid mental illness, stress, chronic pain and problems in the nervous system. COVID has made us rediscover the reality of death and loss. This has been shocking and confronting for many as they face situations such as redundancy in the e airport resulting in grief at the loss of job and job security.

The How – on how to deal with grief and the reconnection with b. Providing a presence to and for each other and helping build supportive communities.

The challenges facing the aviation world as it rebuilds and recovers from the devastation wrought by COVID19 was clearly articulated by Geoffrey Thomas, Editor-in Chief of “Aviation Ratings” The aviation industry has lost more than $85 Billion world wide and is in a very dire position. Of the 26000 passenger aircraft world wide, 13000 are grounded.  Most airlines are losing money at a frightening rate. The main driver for growth will be low fares and domestic travel will recover more quickly than international flights. Airlines are looking at enhanced procedures to reassure passengers and planes are probably cleaner and safer than ever before but passengers are frightened to travel before a vaccine is developed.

Three leaders in aviation agreed to be interviewed on what they saw as the challenges facing aviation and their views on the importance of the chaplain in their airports.  All were confident that aviation is a resilient industry that will bounce back and find new solutions by adapting and being innovative. They believed that aviation faced two challenges into the future – managing Covid 19 and ‘green’ air travel. To succeed it will be necessary to do business differently to achieve a safer, cleaner, greener environment for airports all across the world.

Each believed the chaplain was an integral part of their airport and had been the face of hope during the COVID crisis. The chaplain was seen as someone who offered solace, support and compassion throughout these difficult times

Presentations from the keynote speakers and the interviews with the leaders in aviation can be watched at https://www.iacac.aero/conf-prep/

Do take some time to either watch them for the first time or maybe revisit them again. There was much to learn from each one.