I was attending my wife’s faculty Christmas party when Chaplain Hayes called to inform me of a call which he had received from American Airlines about the death of a passenger on an inbound flight. The details were still sketchy, but I told him that I would head on out to the airport. Arriving at Terminal C, I went in to the chapel where I found DFW Police posted at the door. They let me know that the deceased’s body was inside with the EMTs, airline representatives, and the man’s son. They were waiting for the medical examiner to arrive.
I entered the chapel and introduced myself. The son shared with me that his father had been admitted to hospice care in Ohio. He didn’t want his dad to die alone, so he had flown to Columbus to bring his father home with him to Southern California. His dad had seemed to be asleep since shortly after takeoff, and it wasn’t until he slumped forward on landing that the son realized that he had passed away.
As sad as the death was, the son took comfort in the fact that he had accomplished his mission. His father did not die alone. American Airlines arranged lodging for the son, and after the medical examiner took the body I drove the son to his hotel for the night. By my providing a ministry of presence to the passenger, the AA personnel were freed to arrange accommodations and deal with other logistics.
Chaplain Gary F. Turner
.Season’s Greetings Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As we bring to a close 2018, we bring to a close the Fortieth anniversary year of our Chaplaincy ministry. This Chaplaincy’s ministry mission, which began in 1978, has never changed in a world that has seen many, many changes in last four decades.
The changes which surround us today reinforce the importance of our mission as spiritual first responders called to provide the ministry of presence at DFW Airport.
DFW Airport Chaplaincy Mission Statement
The mission of DFW International Airport Interfaith Chaplaincy, is to provide the ministry of presence, spiritual counseling, and personal support to the DFW Airport community at large, by providing places of worship and reelection for people of all faiths and religious traditions.
As most of you know, the number forty, has special meaning in the Christian faith and has occurred at major turning points in biblical history. Throughout the scriptures, the number forty has often represented seasons of temptation, testing and deliverance!
From this Chaplaincy’s humble beginnings over forty years ago, it has endured many temptations, tests and challenges. But by the grace of God and through the prayers and support of dedicated servant leaders like you and many others who have labored before us, this Chaplaincy has persevered and emerged as the largest Interfaith Airport Chaplaincy Ministry in the World today.
As with every year since its birth in 1978, this past year has been a busy but blessed year for our Chaplaincy in numerous ways. Let me share a few year-end facts with you.
This past year our three annual events, the Spring Fling Golf Outing in April, the RISE UP Prayer Breakfast in August and the Spirit of Thanksgiving Luncheon in November that we presented our coveted Ministry of Presence Award to one of our founding Board Members Mrs. Dona Martinez, were all well attended and very much blessed us all!
Here is a review of our “Busy and Blessed” 2018 milestone anniversary year.
Noticeable improvements were made to our Web Site by adding electronic giving, creating a new Partnership Page and adding the Chaplains Corner page, to share ministry stories and to get to know each of our Chaplains serving at DFW Airport.
Our volunteer Chaplains were on the ramp to support staff, employees and family members at more than 100 Angel Flights of fallen soldiers or American Airline employees as their remains passed through DFW Airport to their final places of rest.
More than 5000 employees and travelers at DFW Airport attended our regular scheduled and special Prayer Services and Catholic Masses at our Chapels.
Our volunteer Chaplains logged more than 3500 hours connecting with more than 12,000 airport employees, more than 5000 travelers and over 800 members of our armed services, of those engaged more than 3000 were personally counseling.
Our volunteer Chaplains were actively involved at various DPS events and many participated in the DFW Airport Emergency Response training exercise last fall.
This year will bring to a close an anniversary milestone as we say goodbye to 2018 and bring to a close our first forty years of faithfully providing the ministry of presence at DFW International Airport. One can only imagine what the next forty years will bring but we can be certain the ministry of presence will always be needful among all of God’s children.
We can look forward with great expectation as we embark on the beginning of a New Year and a New Season of ministry. We already have much to rejoice over as we draw near to the dedication ceremony of our NEW Terminal D Chapel Home which is scheduled to take place on February 22 near gate D40. Our New Chapel Home which is much larger will also be much more accommodating to all Faith Groups. The new D40 Chapel promises to be an even larger beacon of light at DFW International Airport which continues to grow and make this dark world a little smaller with every passing year.
May God Bless our Chaplaincy and may He Bless each of you in the year ahead.
The Reverend Greg McBrayer
Chairman, DFW Airport Chaplaincy
Ticket in hand I enter the orchestra hall and with the assistance of an attendant find my seat. The orchestra is tuning their instruments, the sound is discordant and without any recognizable pattern.
The concert master leads the orchestra in tuning and if he is not satisfied that a section is not adequately tuned he will signal to the oboe player to play another “A”.
Soon the disjointed sounds of instruments individual in their tuning grow together in harmony and are united into one mighty voice, the perfect chord.
Just as an orchestra is made up of a diversity of instruments, horns, string instruments, and percussion so too our ministry of presence at DFW International Airport.
As ministers in an interfaith ministry we each have our own “instrument” if you will , our own unique spiritual foundation as expressed in our faith tradition. Under the guidance of our conductor, Senior Chaplain DD Hayes, and our concert master, Chairman Father Greg McBrayer, we unite to create a unique and beautiful chord - a ministry of presence.
This chord is the sound of care, compassion and concern for any and all we may encounter during the course of our time at the airport. Regardless of our faith tradition we are eager to engage and serve the travelers we encounter, the DFW Airport employees with whom we have developed relationships and each other.
Just as the orchestra unites in one voice our ministry creates a beautiful sound, a tremendous expression of service and purpose builds from within our organization. As volunteers we are united and each with his or her own gifting and special calling are creating the perfect chord.
DFW International Airport Interfaith Chaplaincy - Vibrant, Active and Engaged.
by Chaplain Gary Turner
Father Greg and Captain Gamble were former co-workers at Piedmont Airlines and USAirways from 1978 till 2003 when Captain Gamble retired from flying.
by Chaplain Gary Turner
As I was on my way to the airport, I received a call from Chaplain Hayes that there had been a death on a flight, and they were taking the deceased to our chapel in Terminal D. I arrived at the airport at approximately the same time as the medical examiner and proceeded immediately to the chapel where I found the DFW DPS officers with the deceased and her husband and son.
I learned that the woman had been in ill-health and had died on her way home to Las Vegas from Chile, where she had been visiting her family. While the death was not unexpected the circumstances were. And as the medical examiner waited to take away the body, I sought to comfort the family and prepare them for the moment of separation. We had one last viewing and then a prayer and the body was taken away.
We then turned our attention to funeral planning and plane reservations. The terminal manager for American Airlines had been looking for flights to Las Vegas. However, the family was a bit resistant to the idea that they would leave their loved one here. I pointed out to them that there was nothing more for them to do than wait around for several days and that they needed to go on to Las Vegas and work with a funeral home there. In the meantime, I contacted a local funeral director with whom I had worked on several occasions. I explained the situation, and he immediately had his office to fax paperwork to our office.
By the time the terminal manager returned, the paperwork was almost finished. We had arranged for their loved one to be cared for by a local funeral home, so they could make their way home to family and friends.
The airline gave them a food voucher which allowed them to grab a quick bite before boarding the flight. With the paperwork completed and signed, I went back to the office to fax the information back to the funeral home.
Five days later I met one of the funeral directors at the American Airlines Cargo center. The deceased was ready to be shipped on to Las Vegas. However, a cavalcade of circumstances almost caused a catastrophe. The funeral director was running late. The cargo area had a backup and the funeral director had another call to get to in Keller. She completed the paperwork and left. And even though she had missed the normal deadline for loading cargo, I explained the situation to the cargo manager, and he expedited the shipment, ensuring that the coffin was loaded on the flight. When the flight departed, I called the family and told them that she was on her way home.
by Chairman & Chaplain Fr. Greg McBrayer
by Chaplain Chuck Latham
DFW Airport Interfaith Chaplaincy hosted its annual Rise Up Prayer Breakfast on August 30, 2019. The attendance was tremendous as all the tables where filled with guests who came to support our ministry mission and to hear Carl Gamble share his story and words of encouragement and inspiration.
Numerous Executives from American Airlines, Atmos Energy, Civic Leaders, Elected Officials and Local Pastors were in attendance and to demonstrate their support for the work the chaplain ministry performs. Their strong stand in support and encouragement was as inspiring as Carl's dramatic testimony of danger and overcoming incredible odds.
Carl shared with us his story beginning when he was a young man working in the cotton fields in his hometown of Madison County, Alabama which happened to be near an Air Force base. Carl shared how that while as a young boy he and his family were picking cotton theF-84s from the base would fly low and fast zooming over the fields. Carl said it was then the dream was planted to become a pilot.
Carl shared with us the dramatic career he has had, being shot down in Vietnam, saving his entire crew by landing his burning C-47 just before it burst into flames. For this he won the Distinguished Flying Cross. Another heroic event occurred when Carl was a captain flying for Piedmont Airlines. In 1984 during a routine flight from Charlotte North Carolina to Miami he safely landed the full 737 in Cuba after the aircraft was hijacked.
I spoke with Carl a week or so after the breakfast, at the time of our breakfast hurricane Dorian was heading towards the east coast and he happens to live in South Carolina. After the "all clear" I called and visited with Carl and he shared with me the importance of having a dream, especially when you are young.
I asked him what are some of the most important things he shares with young people as he travels to schools and speaks to groups of students. He said that he encourages them to have a dream. He uses his life story of how when he was a young person picking cotton the roar of the jets flying low and fast inspired him to want to become a pilot. He said that his mother encouraged him with words "you can be anything you want to be."
At the end of the event many of the attendees visited with Carl and his wife Elaine, purchasing his autographed book, sharing stories and taking pictures. I spoke with DFW Airport Chaplaincy Director Father Greg after the event and he was extremely pleased with the robust turnout of so many first-time business, civic and faith leaders from the airport community who expressed desire to support our ministry mission within DFW Airport.
by Chaplain Chuck Latham
As I reflect on the world and the multitude of languages, cultural traditions and daily lifestyles I sometimes wonder how it is even possible that two completely different individuals from two sides of the globe could ever find a way to make a meaningful connection? Yet, as someone who has traveled to 5 continents, the answer to this question has been clearly revealed. That is, while we are all uniquely different we are all still very much the same. See at the basic level of life, there is an inner ache and desire within us all that reveals a universal cord which bonds us all together. That ache is both the need for love and desire for some sort of recognition/fulfillment in life. Essentially, we want our lives to matter and we want to know that we are truly seen as a person. Most of the time this is not so much pursued on a grand scale of fame, fortune and legacy but through the minutiae of day to day life. Examples of this range from having someone walk by you, look you in the eyes and acknowledge your existence, to showing someone you care by holding the elevator or stopping for a brief moment to really hear how someone is doing.
Having this understanding, as a chaplain, is key for providing care at one the most utilized cross cultural connection points - the airport. It is here where people from all over come to one central place and cross paths with the unknown. Yet in their journey of the unknown their desires remain consistently similar: that somehow, someway they will be loved, recognized and known by another.
My goal as a person who has been given this opportunity to operate as an airport chaplain has been to uphold this notion as the main agenda. I believe it is from this foundation that true care and ministry of presence can be extended to all individuals that we encounter in this cross cultural context.
by Chaplain Krystle Solomon