Chaplaincy at Schiphol
Perhaps for many people the words "airport chaplaincy" will render up images of a small unused chapel in an obscure corner of an airport, ready to receive passengers who are facing their flight with a bit of trepidation, and who are thus in need of a quiet moment. Not so the airport chaplaincy at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol. The visible presence of the chaplaincy is indeed a place of worship; but one that is new, bright and well attended. Behind the scenes is a thriving ministry meeting the diverse needs of a constant stream of people.
Place of Worship
Those in search of a quiet moment of reflection are welcome in the Meditation Centre. Due to remodeling at Schiphol Airport the Meditation Centre is moved temporarily. It is now temporarily located on the departure level at the beginning of the F-pier. Follow the signs with the inscription "Meditation Centre" which can be found at the beginning of the F-pier.
The meditation centre is freely accessible and available around the clock.. During office hours a chaplaincy staff member is present..
Counsel and Prayer
The most obvious: the airport chaplaincy is there for passengers. People who are travelling often feel vulnerable, afraid, or disorientated. It can be a great comfort to have a safe place to go and a safe person to talk to. The factor of anonymity also plays a part: in many instances people find that they are able to share burdens that they have never shared with anyone before. They may be free to ask questions they have never asked before. In this sense, conversations with passengers can sometimes tend toward the "confessional" – an unburdening of feelings or thoughts with someone who is trustworthy, but who is far removed from the home environment. A wealth of personal experiences attest to this; in all these things and more, the opportunities for being an agent of God's grace are never ending.
Channels to contact the Chaplaincy
Through various channels contact is made with the airport chaplaincy whenever assistance is required with a spiritual or emotional need. A key part of the chaplains' work is maintaining excellent contacts throughout the entire airport - information desks, telephone information services, the Royal Dutch Military Police, counter personnel of the airlines, customs, security, etc. Through these channels comes a range of requests.
The volunteers of the airport chaplaincy are a vital part of the ministry. But naturally (at present having 27 volunteers) this means that much time and energy is put into training, organising, and caring for this group. A bimonthly roster is maintained, so that a volunteer is on duty at the chapel seven days a week, in two shifts, from 9:00 to 13:00 and 13:00 to 17:00 (the chapel doors are opened by airport employees at 6:00 and closes again at 23:00). Volunteer duties include keeping the rooms clean and tidy, preventing conflicts or abuse of the facility (picnicking!), and being available for a chat. A logbook is kept with an entry for each shift, and visitors are able to write their thoughts down in a guest book.
Click on a link to open a document. In the Wings & Prayers publications our chaplain describes several events he experienced as a chaplain of the Schiphol Airport Chaplaincy in Amsterdam.