Dear Friends and Colleagues,
It is always worthwhile to ponder the truth of the often quoted observation that the world is now like a global village. What happens in one part of the world ripples like a wave on the water across the rest of the world touching all in its path. Nothing else brought this home more clearly than the worldwide grief and tragedy at the loss of so many lives often as a result of a fanatical believer of some faith or political group.
Freedom of Religion remains an ongoing struggle around the world, as anyone aware of the mass migrations taking place across the Middle East and Europe in recent years. Migration, for whatever reason, whether to pursue the dream or escape from a nightmare, is something that happens in large part by air. Airport Arrivals Halls are the ‘Ellis Island’ of our own generation. Chaplains often have a role in meeting vulnerable passengers, and we can be among the first to send out the signal that these new arrivals can and will indeed have freedom in this new place.
Exercising a ministry of service to an airport community, means that we frequently simply put ourselves at the disposal of those whom we serve, and if there is a crisis which requires an urgent response, then we need to respond.
Providing a place for people to pray (whether to cry out in pain or in praise) is one aspect of that hospitality. Our welcome and acceptance is another, as is walking with them, even if only for a short while, as they cross the threshold into a new country.
For this reason, it is important that we have a chaplaincy – for everyone, whether religious or not – and most of all – we have airport chaplains who are ministers and pastors to help, support and guide – anyone – not just those who share our particular faith or practice – and if, for some reason, we ourselves are not equipped to help, to support or to guide, then we are obliged to find someone who can.
The calmest place in the airport is the air traffic control tower. It is, in one way, the ‘calm centre’ of the whole operation. We should aspire to be something similar at ground level, for our colleagues and for the public we meet, for our chaplaincy colleagues, and, above all, for the sake of our own ministry. Of course, how to achieve that is something we probably need to minister to (and be ministered to by) one another.
…which is why it is so important for us to meet together each year at our annual conference. We look forward to being together in Melbourne to share and encourage each other in our ministries.
The Revd George Lane – IACAC President