Prayer Facilities at Airports
Last week in Spiritual Outlook Amelia Nurse visited Auckland International airport to find out about their prayer facilities. This week we’re looking at other parts of the world.
Of the 35 airports we contacted we received eight responses to queries about what services were on offer when it comes to airport chapels or prayer rooms. Fr. Anton in Istanbul said that they play services from the internet in their chapels. The Chaplain at Lands End Airport in the UK says there are no prayer facilities as it’s too small: the only airline at Lands End fly seven tiny twin engine planes to the Isles of Scilly... a flight of about 15 minutes. He says he’s about to become the chaplain of a bigger airport. In Zurich they average 120 visitors per day to their three interfaith chapels – one of which is located in Freight and can house a coffin. From Iceland Fridthor Eydal reports that “We do not have such facilities at Keflavik International Airport.” And Francois from Jacksonville International Airport says "The JAX meditation room is a peaceful place for silent prayer while lifting up your heart and spirit. It is located on the departing level next to the self-service centre".
The very first airport chapel is reported to have opened in Boston over 60 years ago, a time when flying - or at least planes - were more dangerous. Today there are hundreds and there’s also an organization of Chaplains – the IACAC or International Association of Civil Aviation Chaplains. The Rev. Canon Jonathan Baldwin is the president and also one of the Chaplains at Gatwick where they have a whole team of chaplains. Amelia Nurse spoke with him at the beginning of his work day