Read about an MTh Chaplaincy Student
Airport Chaplain, Charlotte Osborn
Tell us a little about yourself and how you became an Airport Chaplain.
I am the Airport Chaplain for Newcastle International, which has won the Airport Operators’ Award (AOA) these past three years for the best airport under 6 million passengers. I am not ordained, but a lay Methodist and a former teacher of Latin and PE. I have also worked for Youth for Christ setting up Rock Solid clubs in the North East. I am married to a Methodist minister.
I am contracted to work a 30- hour week, and am paid by the Methodist Church, to which the airport makes a two thirds contribution for my salary. I have been in post since Sept 2006, trained at Ushaw College in Chaplaincy Studies and added to that a course at the London Institute for Contemporary Christianity and the Industrial Mission Association training. I am currently the Co-Ordinator of the British Isles and Eire Network of Airport Chaplains. I am also Police Chaplain to the three police units on site: the airport police, special branch and the air support unit.
What do you do as an Airport Chaplain?
The team at the airport has a physical base from which to function, a sacred space within the secular, and the comments in the visitors’ book in this multi-faith space show how much it is valued both by staff and passengers alike.
The language of an airport, with its reference to terminal, arrivals, departures, security, check-in, and baggage, contains metaphors of life itself, of birth and death and the journey in between.
There is no such thing as a typical day as the role is truly varied. One day I may be ‘walking the floor and being seen’ or participating in a desk top exercise for emergency planning. On another day, I can find myself dealing with a member of staff who has had an upsetting encounter with a member of the public. I often sit with a passenger who is anxious about flying, or who has concerns about the situation they are leaving behind or going to.
I also lead a weekly prayer service in the multi-faith chaplaincy room and have even conducted a naming ceremony in the pub for the child of a member of staff.
I am passionate about “keeping the rumour of God alive” and making connections between the sacred and the secular, and between faith and life, in order that life can be lived to the full for all.
Why did you choose St Michael’s?
I was attracted to the MTh chaplaincy course at St Michael’s because it was addressing the questions I found myself asking after five years of learning on the job. I was looking for a theological base for what I found myself doing out of instinct and evangelical zeal, and was especially keen to learn from chaplains in other sectors. I have found the course informs my practice and is inviting me to go much deeper into the questions that each new day at the airport brings.