Church services during the Holy Week in the Meditation Centre

The airport chaplains offer several church services during the Holy Week for checked-in passengers and airport staff in the Meditation Centre in Lounge 2, 2nd floor. On April 6th (Maundy Thursday) a celebration of the Holy Eucharist will take place at 11.00 hours. On Good Friday, April 7th, the Stations of the Cross will be prayed in a special service, also at 11.00. On Easter Sunday, April 9th, a church service will be held with Easter hymns and music. Every service starts at 11.00 and will be announced at the airport. Everybody is welcome.

The Airport Chaplaincy organised a New Year’s Concert in the airport

On January 11th, the Airport Chaplaincy welcomed the year 2023 with a short church service, a speech by the president of the chaplaincy foundation Flip Poort and a special miniconcert. The concert was given by professional musicians in Lounge 2. It was a true highlight of the New Year’s reception.

The ensemble of the foundation ‘Apple pie concerts’ (Appeltaartconcerten) was represented by string trio Ruña ’t Hart, Michiel Holtrop, Douw Fonda and Gerben Klein Willink on trumpet. Their wonderful, energetic performance of light classical music was a big surprise to passengers, guests and airport staff. Seated on the edge of the internet square, the musicians nearly touched the audience. Dancing children, a father with a sleeping son on his shoulder and the volunteers handing out apple pie to listeners. The constant flow of hurries and logistics, so present at airports, was mitigated and softened by the peace and pleasure the music evoked in all. Just a moment to stand still, before rushing again to fly. Foundation ‘Apple pie concerts’ breathes the same humanitarian approach as the Airport Chaplaincy of Schiphol. The musicians play in homes for elderly and sick, in neighborhood theaters and hospices. For more information visit the website of the foundation.

Christmas Eve near the Meditation Centre, behind security

For the ones who are travelling through Schiphol Airport on Christmas Eve, do not miss the opportunity to get a touch of Christmas in a short celebration in Lounge 2. This service can only be attended by checked-in passengers, passengers in transit or staff who are on duty on Christmas Eve. A selection of Christmas carols will be played on audio, we will read the Nativity story and a short Christmas message will be given by one of the chaplains. Due to the overwhelming attendance of last year, the celebration will be held on the internet court in front of the Meditation Centre. Afterwards a hot drink and Christmas stollen will be served. The event starts at 6.30 pm on the second floor in Lounge 2. Chaplains Joop Albers and Mark Hafkenscheid offer you a warm welcome! On Christmas Day (25th of December), the Airport Chaplaincy offers a Christmas service. You are welcome to join us in the Meditation Centre at 11 am, even if your time is short and you would need to leave early.

Pastors Marieke Meiring (left) and Joop Albers (right).
The Airport Chaplaincy wishes you happy holidays! 

Interview Local Radio Station Volendam – Edam

Mid-October volunteer Ria Tol and airport chaplain Marieke Meiring were invited by L.O.V.E. (Local Radio Volendam-Edam) for an interview. In the basement of the stadium of FC Volendam the radio team gave them a warm welcome and asked many questions about the work of the chaplaincy in the Meditation Centre of Schiphol Airport. The programme ‘Zukke Zorge’ (lit. ‘Great Concern’) usually focuses on people whose mindset it is to help others. Ria, a well-known inhabitant of the region, shared her stories about the Meditation Centre. Due to the corona-years the process of application and the beginning of the volunteer work was a long one. Finally, last April, Ria was the first volunteer to join the team of volunteers after the pandemic. Besides describing the chores, questions were answered like: ‘Does a piano fit in the concept of the centre?’ ‘Do couples marry in this designated place at the airport?’ ‘Can people of different beliefs pray together in one room?’ ‘Is it allowed to do yoga?’ 

Airport chaplains and volunteers visit liberal Jewish Congregation of Amsterdam

Every year, the Airport Chaplaincy offers a training program to its volunteers. In October, usually a whole day is organized to equip the 25 voluntary staff and the chaplains to increase their knowledge, train them, and inspire them for their task. On October 13th the chaplains, volunteers, and many board members were hosted by the liberal Jewish Congregation of Amsterdam. In this house of prayer, learning and encounter they were received with touching hospitality.

Tapestry The Seven Days of Creation by Claudy Jongstra.

Rabbi Menno ten Brink kicked off the day with a guided tour in the synagogue. Because of the festival of Sukkoth in the very week, a sukkah was built on its patio. Karima Bajioui and Barnet Kansil facilitated the rest of the day on the topic of interreligious awareness. The training stimulated an attitude of modesty and openness in the encounters in the Meditation Centre of Schiphol.

The door to the synagogue refers to the expectation of the time of Shalom.
Rabbi Menno ten Brink shows the holy scrolls of Tenach.
The sukkah visit.

The Chaplaincy needs new volunteers

We are currently looking for committed people to help in the Meditation Centre. The centre is opened 24 hours a day for passengers and airport staff who wish a moment of quiet or retreat. The task of the volunteers is to ensure that the Meditation centre is a pleasant place for passengers to spend time in silence. This means that, as a volunteer, you will be openminded and respectful for the variety of people who enter the centre during your shift. They may have questions or needs you will attend to. Are you interested? Here you can find more information and the application form.

On the day of the volunteer (7 December 2021), one of our volunteers was put in the spotlight by Schiphol.

Stories and silence at Eindhoven Airport

On Sunday February 13th our colleague Rev. Mirjam van Nie was installed as an airport chaplain in the Protestant congregation of the PKN in Veldhoven. Mirjam started coming to the Airport of Eindhoven (also Royal Schiphol Group) on a weekly basis as a volunteer since 2014. From the beginning, her presence as a professional is aiming at listening to people and taking care of the airport’s prayer room that opened eight years ago. The instalment in a nearby congregation was a dream come true for our colleague. The involvement of a chaplain at the airport is a solistic one. The support of a local church community for a pastor is very meaningful.

Mirjam van Nie, chaplain at Eindhoven Airport

Mirjam started from scratch, nine years ago. However, soon after the prayer room was arranged (upon Mirjam’s advice) the room played a crucial role in the days after the MH17 disaster. In a crisis of this kind it is very important to offer a location where people can come to mourn. Mirjam remembers the long queue and how many came to express their grief and their condoleances. ‘The flights out of Charkow landed on the military part of Eindhoven Airport and were kept away from the public. In the prayer room the public was welcome. Many signed the memorial register books, many offered flowers or plushies. It is indispensible to have a place available for sharing emotions a disaster like MH17 evokes.’ Mirjam was present every time a flight arrived. She was around the prayer space and it’s visitors were well taken care of. 

The room is open for prayer and meditation for all. The signs in the departure hall show how to get there. The furniture inside consists of two small tables, one offering Bibles in different languages, benedictions and Jewish prayer books, the other one offering Korans and prayer mats. Opposite the entrance finds itself a huge foam picture, featuring a beautiful sunset at Eindhoven Airport. The horizon on the large photograph shows the airport control tower as a small black silhouet. It radiates warmth, vastness and relativity. 

The foam picture in the Meditation Centre at Eindhoven Airport.

A year before the opening of the prayer area Mirjam started a conversation with the non-aviation Director of the airport. Supported by the local Council of Churches, the regional Rotary and congregations around Eindhoven, the well-refurbished room could be officially opened in February 2014. Many passengers and airport staff find their way; muslims appreciate a safe place for their prayers, a lot of Jews fly from Eindhoven to Tell Aviv, and others are also happy to find a place for contemplation and silence. Even staff of surrounding offices prefer the room over the facility within their own office building. The encounters as a result are stimulating and connecting users of different world views and mutual respect is prevalent.

Besides managing the prayer room, Mirjam is lending a listening ear to passengers and people waiting in the terminal. The airport is a place where reflection about the past, presence or future easily starts. Talking to a chaplain whom you will probably never see again, opens hearts and mouths. Stories are told, about losses of loved ones, a job, or health. Regularly a person asks Mirjam to pray for the grief or the journey. She will always say yes to a request and withdraws herself into the prayer room. 

‘You are looking so peaceful,’ a muslim told her during the Iftar meal a few years ago. She was invited by an employee of the airport to join the break of the day’s fast in the evening. She went to his mosk, enjoying the hospitality and the fragrant food. It is her personal life motto: peace for everyone.

On February 13th the liaison of the Protestant church of Veldhoven with the Airport Chaplaincy of Airport Eindhoven was installed and celebrated. The congregation’s officiating minister was Lieuwe Wijbenga and the theme of the ‘stranger’ who is to be invited and welcomed resonated perfectly with the work Mirjam has promised to do. ‘Leave your indoor bubble as a church community. Experience and practice the gospel in unexpected places. I am just doing it. I care for people.’

Christmas Eve/Day near the Meditation Centre, behind passport control

For the ones who are travelling through Schiphol Airport on Christmas Eve, do not miss the opportunity to get a touch of Christmas in a short celebration in Lounge 2. This service can only be attended by passengers in transit or by passengers who are stranded in the transit area due to the international travel restrictions because of Covid-19. A selection of Christmas carols will be played on audio, we will read the Nativity story and a short Christmas message will be given by the chaplains of Schiphol. Due to the corona rules the short service will not be conducted in het Meditation Centre, however, on the internetcourt in front of the centre. Afterwards individually wrapped Christmas stollen will be presented as a takeaway. The event starts at 6.30 pm on the second floor in Lounge 2. Chaplains Joop Albers and Marieke Meiring offer you a warm welcome! On Christmas Day (25th December) the Airport Chaplaincy offers two more short services that are conducted within the mandatory corona restrictions. You are welcome to join us in the Meditation Centre either at 11 or at 12 am. We can receive visitors up to eight max.

The Airport Chaplaincy wishes you happy holidays! (The photo was taken several years ago).
Pastors Marieke Meiring (left) and Joop Albers (right).

Chaplains interviewed by Nederlands Dagblad

Since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic more often than before travellers eventually strand at international airports. This happens due to different reasons: sometimes the travel documents are not valid or not sufficient; the world has changed so much that a thorough preparation before travelling is highly recommended. Sometimes passengers turn out to test positive during their journey and it is mandatory to isolate or quarantaine immediately on site. This is hard if you are stranded at an unfamiliar airport. At Schiphol fortunately facilities have been installed. The chaplains stay in contact with the passengers who got stranded unexpectedly and with the ones who are staying in quarantaine. What the team experiences and how they coped with an exceptional situation can be read here (in Dutch).