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Church State Issues

Church at Sky Harbor Airport

Oct 13, 2011

By: see if we can have a "flying spagattii monster worship" meeting

Interfaith Chaplaincy Church

Interfaith Chaplaincy

A Place of Comfort and Aid

Sky Harbor offers you a place of comfort and aid to reflect, regroup, rest or reach out. The All-Faiths Chapel is on level 3 in Terminal 4.

Interfaith Chaplaincy (602) 244-1346
Send us an e-mail at skyharbchap@juno.com
Sky Harbor Interfaith Chaplaincy provides:
A chapel which may be used by people of all faiths
Emergency assistance through Travelers Aid
Hosting of A.A. meetings every Friday in the chapel conference room
Official Web Site of the City of Phoenix

Sky Harbor Interfaith Chaplaincy
3800 E Sky Harbor Blvd # 4351
Phoenix, AZ 85034-0613


http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/arizonaliving/articles/1227airporthelp1227.html

Wings and a prayer: Airport minister, social worker quietly help troubled travelers

Richard Ruelas

The Arizona Republic

Dec. 27, 2007 12:00 AM

Tucked away from the traffic jams, long lines and scurrying travelers at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport is a nondescript office that serves as a safety net for passengers.

Those who end up here are generally in distress. They have deeper concerns than a missed flight or errant luggage. The airport and airlines employ hundreds to deal with those common problems.

The people in this hard-to-find place deal with dilemmas one wouldn't think would reach the airport. Social problems like hunger, poverty and domestic violence.

It is here where Rebecca Martin serves as social worker and the Rev. Al Young serves as minister to a transient population.

"Just having a calm voice," Martin says, advising how she calms harried passengers. "Letting people know you understand how they feel helps."

Of the 41.4 million passengers who go through Sky Harbor each year, according to the city, only a tiny sliver, 200 to 300, reach Martin and Young's office tucked behind a bank of elevators in Terminal 4.

"When they're out of options, when they don't have a place to send a person, they're sending them to us," Young said.

On one recent morning, the two dealt with a homeless veteran, a family of four stranded without cash and a young man who walked into the office claiming hunger and poverty.

"I can't have bad days," Martin said, "I have to stay positive. When people come to you, they need something from you, and I have to give back."

Martin, hired in August, is the first full-time staff person devoted to passengers in distress at Sky Harbor.

Before, problems were mainly handled through Young and a volunteer chaplain.

When Young started the Sky Harbor interfaith chapel in 1988, he figured travelers would use it as a place of rest and meditation. Almost immediately, he found himself dealing with passengers needing a hotel for a night or food.

He got the airport signed up as a social-service agency under Traveler's Aid, an international network of organizations that, as the group's slogan says, provide "a helping hand along the way."

Through that Washington, D.C.-based group, he was able to start offering such things as discounted Greyhound bus tickets and phone calls for stranded passengers.

About nine years ago, Young said, he heard from a domestic-violence shelter. A woman needed help getting out of town. Young worked to get a bus ticket so she could get to family in another state.

Other such crisis calls kept coming over the years. Young looked for additional funding. He received some through The Arizona Republic's Season for Sharing holiday-giving program. But as the need continued, Young asked the city's aviation department for a full-time social worker.

The city approved a one-year trial run of the program in June 2006. This year, it approved the program for a three-year run. According to city documents, the program's budget cannot exceed $72,000 a year. The city's airport advisory board approved the contract unanimously.

Young said he gave the city statistics about the type of help given out at Sky Harbor. But probably more compelling was the city's own research into the programs at other airports.

"They confirmed for themselves there was a need for this type of assistance," Young said.

So much need Martin, who has worked for 20 years helping domestic-violence victims and homeless people through a church ministry in Ohio, had the proper background of caring needed to fill the position, Young said.

Martin remembers the first domestic-violence case she dealt with. A woman loaded her three children and a single bag of belongings into her car and drove to the airport looking to flee a violent home. An airport Navigator, the purple-shirted volunteers who guide passengers through Sky Harbor, spotted the woman in obvious distress, trying to buy a ticket to Chicago, Martin said.

"They all came in crying," Martin said.

Martin helped the woman contact family, who wired the money for airplane tickets. Martin helped occupy the children's time during the hours-long wait. She also counseled and prayed with their mother.

"You just see so much here," she said.

Martin started her job just weeks before a distressed traveler died in the custody of airport police. Carol Gotbaum, a New York woman, had a reported meltdown Sept. 28 after missing a connecting flight to Tucson. It is just the kind of situation that the aid program was designed to help.

"Things unfolded so rapidly," Young said. "There wasn't an opportunity for police to get hold of us, to inform us that there was someone who might need our help."

According to Phoenix police, 25 minutes elapsed between when a ticket agent first called officers to report Gotbaum's erratic behavior and when officers found her dead in a holding cell, her restraint chain around her neck.

Young points out a final irony: The holding cell where Gotbaum died is directly below the chapel office.

Martin said it's unfair for people to judge the airport's safety net by the Gotbaum case.

"You're just judging that one incident. Look at all the people we help," she said. "They have no idea what goes on at the airport."

The publicity over the Gotbaum case did generate a call from another family who feared their relative would face a similar fate, Martin said.

The woman, in Phoenix for a funeral, had called her out-of-state relatives after landing at Sky Harbor to say that she couldn't find her luggage. She sounded hysterical on the phone and the family, knowing the woman was bipolar, called Martin for help.

Martin headed down to baggage claim to look for the woman, with no luck. She then put out a page for the woman and alerted other airport personnel. A Navigator found the woman, who had somehow made her way to another terminal.

"We helped her get where she needed to get," Martin said.

Homeless veteran

Not all of Martin and Young's work involves airport passengers in distress. On a recent morning, Martin dealt with a homeless veteran found wandering in a Phoenix park. The Carl T. Hayden VA Medical Center helped him locate a cousin in Deming, N.M., Martin said. She helped arrange a bus ticket for the man and saw him off at the Greyhound station.

Most people who come to Martin are referred. Busy days at the airport don't necessarily translate into busy days for her. Crises arrive on their own schedule.

One incident involved a man who gave his name as Patrick. He had just arrived from Connecticut and was hungry but had no money. His mother wasn't coming to get him until later that afternoon, and an airport worker pointed him toward the chaplain's office.

Though some of the man's story didn't add up, Martin still walked Patrick to an airport bakery for a meal.

Maybe Patrick was not on a flight, Martin said, but there was no doubt he was hungry.

"I don't pry unless I feel he's in danger," Martin said. If she saw him again in the next few days, she would refer him to some other agency to deal with his underlying problem, she said.

Maybe it's because the office is hidden away, but Martin and Young said they don't get a lot of walk-ins who might take advantage of the program. They have refused help to people they felt were looking for a handout rather than for emergency need, they said.

It seems it would be hard for the pair to say no, however, given that between their desks hangs a tapestry of St. Francis of Assisi.

"For most people," Martin said, "it's a humbling experience to say, 'I don't have any money. I need food.' "

Martin finds it spiritually and professionally fulfilling to help find comfort in such a bustling place. Before she worked there, she knew Sky Harbor as most might, as a place that breeds stress.

"Oh," she said, "I hated the airport."

Reach the reporter at richard. ruelas@... or 602-444-8473.


http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/1110phxbriefs1110.html

Phoenix news briefs

Nov. 10, 2005 12:00 AM

Renovated Sky Harbor chapel unveiled today

PHOENIX - Do you ever feel like praying before you get on an airplane?

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has a chapel for just that. It has just been remodeled and will make its debut this afternoon in Terminal 4.

The center will be staffed by professional and volunteer chaplains from a variety of faiths. It was redone as part of widespread terminal renovations that includes phasing in more than 40 new shops.

The chapel has regular hours for individual reflection, as well as scheduled religious services. The interfaith facility is also used by Traveler's Aid, a group that offers emergency assistance to distressed passengers.

For more information, call Chaplain Al Young at (602) 244-1346.


well they already have a government run church in sky harbor airport which is run by the city of phoenix. this looks like more mixing of religion and government to me.

http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/0520ablution20.html

Airport answers prayers

Christine Keith/The Arizona Republic

Ahmed A. Ali, one of many Muslims who drive taxis and limos at Sky Harbor, cleanses himself at a new wash area at the airport before one of five daily prayers.

Washing area at Sky Harbor helps Muslims

Michael Clancy

The Arizona Republic

May. 20, 2004 12:00 AM

When limousine driver Jihad Manfoukh needs a place to clean up before praying, he heads to the taxi and limo holding lot at Sky Harbor International Airport.

There, on a blacktop expanse, airport authorities have installed a cleanup station to help Manfoukh and other Muslim drivers meet their religious needs. Two faucets, two feet above the ground, enable the drivers to conduct ritual cleansing, including washing of the feet, before they pray.

They are situated as part of washroom facilities in a fenced-off parking lot on the west side of the airport, where taxi drivers gather, waiting to be called forward to the terminals for fares.

"The cab drivers were asking for more washroom facilities as a group, and a majority of them wanted some place to wash before they pray," said Deborah Ostreicher, public information officer for the airport. "Sometimes there are as many as 400 drivers waiting, and they can be there for hours at a time.

"This is a way we thought we could reach out as a customer service."

The facility was funded through airport user fees, she said, not taxpayer dollars.

Observant Muslims pray five times a day: at dawn, noon, midafternoon, sunset and evening.

Imam Abdur-Rahim Shamsid-Deen, spiritual leader of Masjid Jauharatul- Islam in south Phoenix, said the station might be the first in the United States for Muslim drivers. He said the drivers include many refugees, including large contingents of Somalis and Pakistanis.

The cleansing, called ablution, is symbolic of purification, Shamsid- Deen said. The hands, washed three times, represent actions, and the feet, also washed three times, represent a solid foundation and a means of travel.

"We are preparing to communicate with the creator," Shamsid-Deen said. "We need to be clean."

Manfoukh, a Chandler resident who was born in Lebanon, said Muslim drivers have been asking for a place to wash their feet for about a year.

He estimates that 80 to 90 percent of drivers at the airport practice Islam, adding that the group gets together and prays in a shaded area beside the washrooms.

"If you come at sunset, you can see 20 men or more praying together," Manfoukh said. "They are from all over the world, and they are working hard here. They want to pray every day."

Abdul Malik Omar, who owns Metro Transportation, a limousine company, said observers sometimes can see 30 or 40 people praying together in open space. While the foot-washing station is helpful, more accommodations are needed, he said, including a permanent place to pray.

Muslims are allowed to pray anywhere, as long as it is not considered ritually dirty, as a washroom would be, and as long as they are facing the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

Reach the reporter at mike.clancy@... or (602) 444- 8550.


in the central phoenix section of the friday, october 19, 2001 issue of the arizona republic they had an article about a church at sky harbor airport. (this sections is not in all issues of the arizona republic. just those that go to central phoenix)

the article was titled

"airport chapel spreads wings"

and was on page 1 of the central phoenix section.

kelly ettenborough wrote the article

email kelly.ettenbroough@... phone (602)444-7728

the churches address is

sky harbor interface chaplaincy 3800 e sky harbor blvd, termial 4, level 3 phoenix, arizona 85034-3712 (602)244-1346

rev al young is the airport chaplain.

they claim the church receives no money from the city of phoenix, but me being a untrusting person suspect that they get free rent from the city of phoenix, or some other sweatheart deal.

the 2001 budget for the chaplain's office is $90,000. they say half of that is used to help people who loose their tickets or dont have enough money for dinner.

the article said there are about 45 other airport churches in the united states (despite the fact that the 1st amendment demands seperation of church and state).

on sundays they have protestent services at 11:30, chatholic mass at 12:30, and at 6:30pm greek orthodox evening prayers.

would anybody be intersted in pissing them off and seeing if we can get some atheist services there on sundays? or maybe have a few american atheist meetings there?


in the central phoenix section of the friday, october 19, 2001 issue of the arizona republic they had an article about a church at sky harbor airport. (this sections is not in all issues of the arizona republic. just those that go to central phoenix)

the article was titled

"airport chapel spreads wings"

and was on page 1 of the central phoenix section.

kelly ettenborough wrote the article

email kelly.ettenbroough@... phone (602)444-7728

the churches address is

sky harbor interface chaplaincy 3800 e sky harbor blvd, termial 4, level 3 phoenix, arizona 85034-3712 (602)244-1346

rev al young is the airport chaplain.

they claim the church receives no money from the city of phoenix, but me being a untrusting person suspect that they get free rent from the city of phoenix, or some other sweatheart deal.

the 2001 budget for the chaplain's office is $90,000. they say half of that is used to help people who loose their tickets or dont have enough money for dinner.

the article said there are about 45 other airport churches in the united states (despite the fact that the 1st amendment demands seperation of church and state).

on sundays they have protestent services at 11:30, chatholic mass at 12:30, and at 6:30pm greek orthodox evening prayers.

would anybody be intersted in pissing them off and seeing if we can get some atheist services there on sundays? or maybe have a few american atheist meetings there?


Source

Phoenix news briefs

Nov. 10, 2005 12:00 AM

Renovated Sky Harbor chapel unveiled today

PHOENIX - Do you ever feel like praying before you get on an airplane?

Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport has a chapel for just that. It has just been remodeled and will make its debut this afternoon in Terminal 4.

The center will be staffed by professional and volunteer chaplains from a variety of faiths. It was redone as part of widespread terminal renovations that includes phasing in more than 40 new shops.

The chapel has regular hours for individual reflection, as well as scheduled religious services. The interfaith facility is also used by Traveler's Aid, a group that offers emergency assistance to distressed passengers.

For more information, call Chaplain Al Young at (602) 244-1346.