50th Anniversary Celebration of the Chapel of St George, Heathrow
A service of thanksgiving in celebration of the dedication of the 50th Anniversary of the Chapel of St George took place in the Chapel on Thursday 11 October 2018. More than 100 Church leaders, Chapel Trustees, Multi-Faith Chaplains, past and present, as well as members of the Heathrow Airport Ltd Executive and those who have a practical role within the Chapel attended and participated in the service – a fitting tribute to 50 years of worship, prayer and pastoral care.
Guests arrived to rousing music played in the Chapel garden by a brass ensemble of the Staines band of The Salvation Army who also provided music during the service. Windsor based Royal Harmonics acapella male voice choir (Chorus Leader Pete Wickham) also provided music and delighted the congregation with a polished rendition of the song “Ride the Chariot”.
The Bishop of Willesden, the Revd Pete Broadbent, delivered the sermon in which he reflected on 50 years of chaplaincy support to staff and passengers alike at the heart of Heathrow. He expressed thanks to God for the blessings of the past and anticipation and hope for the future.
Bishop Pete said:
“It is said that it was Robert Kennedy, assassinated in June of 1968, who, on a previous visit to the UK, asked whether there was a chapel in Heathrow where he could attend mass. After much haggling with a taxi driver, he was taken to a local Roman Catholic Church.
“His provocation gave impetus to the project to build what is now St George’s Chapel Heathrow, which opened in the year of his untimely death.
“It has been deeply encouraging to be able to give thanks together for the chapel and its life; for the ecumenical partnership represented in this building and in the Chaplaincy Team, cemented in love and mutual respect; and for the privilege of ministering to those of all faiths and of none in this amazing airport.”
The Chapel was decorated for the occasion with a display of some beautiful artwork. Artists Anna Sikorska and Marie del Pino Cornejo, in association with Arts Chaplaincy, an initiative from the University of the Arts, London, were commissioned to produce 50 conversations in colour in celebration of the event. They have been in residence over the summer, exploring the work of the multi-faith chaplaincy team and translating conversations with passengers and staff into works of art, 15 of which are installed in the Chapel.
In addition, The Austin Sewing Club (leaders Raheela Sadiq and Syeda Shah) who work in partnership with Hillingdon Adult Learning were commissioned to produce a banner in celebration of the 50th Anniversary. The banner illustrates the nations of the world, bringing multi-faith and multicultural communities together in a work of artistic beauty.
Following the service, a reception was held and a buffet lunch was enjoyed by guests in the Town Square, Starlight Point during which Chaplain, the Revd Dr John Parry gave a brief history of the Chapel, and Head of multi-faith Chaplaincy Howie Adan honoured the work of all involved in the organisation of the day, including the sterling work of Heathrow Volunteers.