Salvation Army expands its chaplaincy work at Glasgow Airport

published on 1 Mar 2016

[Photo: From left, Commissioner Keith Banks, Jim McDonald and Captain Stephen Baker in the airport prayer room]

The Salvation Army has expanded its chaplaincy ministry at Glasgow Airport by appointing a new officer to serve alongside current chaplain Commissioner Keith Banks.

Captain Stephen Baker, who is originally from Pennsylvania in the US, will join the chaplaincy team supporting passengers and staff.

On Monday February 29 Stephen moved into his new role where he will be on hand to offer practical support to the 30,000 passengers who pass through the airport every day. 

The Salvation Army chaplaincy team – which also includes Jim McDonald, a volunteer from Govan Salvation Army – are available to respond to any call for assistance, from an individual to the demands of a major incident, offering assistance to distressed passengers and supporting family members.

The mission of the chaplaincy team is to be there for anyone who needs its service, irrespective of denomination, faith or creed.

Stephen said: “I’m so excited by this new role. It sounds daunting because of the vastness of the airport but I can’t wait to get started. I have a heart and a passion for chaplaincy so this is a wonderful opportunity”. 

“We have a fantastic team in place at the airport, which is well respected and trusted by staff and passengers. Keith himself has such a wealth of experience and it will be an honour for me to work with him.”

Current chaplain Keith has been in his post for nearly seven years but has served as a Salvation Army officer in different parts of the world for almost 53 years.

Keith said: “It’s an absolutely incredible opportunity for Stephen and The Salvation Army. It demonstrates the vital role our chaplaincy team plays at the airport. 

“Of course it’s not just The Salvation Army involved. I am supported by a team of representatives from other faiths that I can call on.

“Our chaplaincy roles at the airport are very complex. Stephen will support me two days a week but because of the nature of the airport I could need him for 10 hours one day and none the next. We could also be called to support in the event of an emergency situation so we need to be flexible.”

New assistant chaplain Stephen moved to the UK in 2002 after meeting his wife Joanna at a Salvation Army summer camp in the USA in 1998.

The couple married in 2003 and entered The Salvation Army’s training college in 2005 before being commissioned as officers in 2007. Their first appointment was in Hastings, where they stayed until moving to East Kilbride 2012. They have three children – Kaitlyn (11), Rachael (9) and Samuel (4).

Stephen said: “This is also a new step for Joanna as well. She’ll become the commanding officer (minister) of The Salvation Army in East Kilbride and I will be there to support her in any way I can. I’ll be assisting two people to do other jobs so I it will be a new experience for me. But it’s one I’m looking forward to.”

Major Russell Wyles, leader of The Salvation Army in the west of Scotland, said: “We are delighted at the appointment of Captain Stephen. His role underlines the good relationship we have with Glasgow Airport and the respect in which Keith and his chaplaincy team are held.”

The stained glass window featured in the photo above was installed in the prayer room at Glasgow Airport to reflect people of all faiths and none.