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 effect of the worldwide pandemic from which we are emeging and grief and tragedy at the loss amd disruption of so many lives.
Chaplains often have a role in meeting and supporting vulnerable passengers who have become stranded for a variety of reasons. This has never been more so than in the past two years. Exercising this ministry of service to an airport community, means that sometimes (often!) we 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 be (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 navigate the confusing intricacies of air travel. It is for this reason that airport chaplaincy is so important- for everyone, whether religious or not – and most of all – we have airport chaplains who are able 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.
It has been said that 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.
It is through networking that is caring and crosses borders that we are able to support and sustain each other. Building, broadening and strengthening networks is an important part of what we do on airports around the globe. Networks with our colleagues in our own and other chaplaincies and networks with management and staff.
Passengers are also part of the network and by sharing their lives for a few minutes or a few hours, we become a part of their network, sometimes that link becomes permanent in particular when we’ve been involved in a dramatic experience with them. Networking could also be a term to define religion which aims at linking (religare) people together in human and spiritual communities to worship the Giver of Life.
But ministers are often lonely workers and airport chaplains are no exception, we build networks, we take care of others networks but how do we maintain our own networks both personal and professional is part of the issue on how ,as care takers we take care of ourselves. As airport chaplains,we need to build and strengthen our own networks.
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 London to share and encourage each other in our ministries and strengthen our own networks.
Please plan to be there in London this year as we share together all we have learned in surviving the pandemic which has so dramatically changed our world.