I worked on an energy trading floor for over twenty years during my professional career. It was a center of financial operations with employees sitting at trading desks lined up in paired rows so that traders, operators and analysts could quickly communicate with each other. Each desk had up to six stacked computer screens displaying technical information. Larger computer screens displaying international news and weather information were arranged around the floor. White noise leveling and carpeting made communications possible in a room full of active people. Some people told me that they could never work in this chaotic environment, but I loved the constant buzz of activity.
What does this have to do with ministry? In the Anglican Church in North America website article (www.anglicanchurch.net/?/main/page/1925) titled Ministry Redefined: Bringing the Priesthood into Corporate America, Greg McBrayer works in a similar operations floor for American Airlines. He is the Chief Flight Controller for one of the world’s largest airlines. “I came into the aviation world about 40 years ago and I’ve spent my entire adult life in flight control.”
Since I have flown hundreds of commercial flights and traveled to most of the world’s major airports, I understand the stress that McBrayer deals with in his chosen career. “It’s also the place where God has called me to serve Him in ministry.” The tragic events of September 11, 2001 propelled McBrayer to re-evaluate his vocation. “There was a tremendous amount of anxiety in the profession, in all ranks throughout the industry. And, you know something, I was beginning to be used more in my ministerial role in that setting than I could be in a church.”
Greg McBrayer is also Fr. McBrayer who wears a clerical collar as an ordained Anglican minister. He went to American Airline’s senior leadership and asked for space to hold Bible studies for all denominations. “It was just an opportunity to come together as Christians in a workplace setting on our own time, on breaks.”
He started with a simple noon-day Bible study that turned into prayer and worship. “Management started seeing fruitfulness. They realized people were being more attentive in their jobs, it seemed like there was just a whole different feeling in the office. Attendance improved.” What started as a small ministry grew into the larger American Airlines ministry. “McBrayer also services countless thousands of passengers and employees of all walks of life who venture through the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. His position at American Airlines has provided him opportunity to become the director of DFW Airport Chaplaincy, a separate but related ministry.”
Mission is being sent into the secular world. It is being faithful in our work, home, and community – all phases of life. McBrayer stated: “you’re going to be here most of your life, so why not be used here. The need is tremendous. … the richest mission field in our country today is corporate America.” After 34 years working in corporations, I agree. The workplace hungers for meaning and purpose. Materialism and power cannot fill that hunger. It comes from a desire for something far greater: self-actualization in God’s image, service to our community as Jesus taught, and the hope for God’s kingdom here on earth. Fr. McBrayer is serving that purpose now.