Airport chaplains

Howie Aiden, an Anglican priest and airport chaplain at Schiphol airport, Amsterdam describes his airport ministry in the Times:

The work of an airport chaplain is a never-ending stream of intense personal encounters followed by silence, the void being filled with hopeful prayer that each individual will continue to find the help and support they need once they have moved on from here. Only twice in my time at Schiphol have those whom I have helped written or returned to let me know how they are doing.

Initially it surprised me how much death and bereavement are part of the chaplaincy’s work. Airports are not keen to advertise it, but there are a good number of passengers who die on inbound flights or at the terminal. Travel is stressful; heart problems are commonplace. Accidents and suicides, though not frequent, do occur. And on average two Dutch citizens a day die while abroad, their remains often being repatriated in the company of family or friends. At Schiphol the chaplains are authorised to take up to five meeters and greeters through the security checks to the arriving airplane, so that the bereaved can be met away from the busy arrivals hall.

There is a brighter side, too. Sunday services are an enjoyable mix of nations and denominations, the Church drawn together from the four corners of the Earth, only to be scattered again within hours. People who would otherwise never enter each other’s churches share the Peace, and mean it. They also learn that they can share space with people of other faiths, praying or worshipping as they do in the one interfaith meditation centre.

Read it all here.

I have noticed chapels at various airports across thw world, but have never met an airport chaplain. Have you?

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