It was back in summer 1996 that the first discussions were held between the Zurich Airport Authority and the Council of the Evangelical Reformed Church on establishing a chaplaincy at the airport. As a result, the Reverend Walter Meier (Reformed) and Deacon Claudio Cimaschi (Roman Catholic), both of whom were already closely associated with the aviation world, were asked to jointly devise a concept for the new institution. All the parties involved agreed from the start that the proposed chaplaincy should be as interdenominational as possible. The Catholic Church of the Canton of Zurich also signalled its interest, and both churches pledged their financial support. So it was that on 1 February 1997, Reverend Meier and Deacon Cimaschi were able to formally assume their new offices at Zurich Airport. They joined a growing movement: there are now 148 airport chaplaincies in 39 countries around the world.
Since its establishment, the Zurich Airport Chaplaincy has seen the addition of a further chaplaincy member, the catholic pastoral assistant Mrs Andrea Thali, who joined the team on a part-time basis in summer 2000. In addition to the chaplaincy, which is open 24/7 and located in Check-In 2, today’s facilities also include a multifaith prayer room in the transit zone (airside) in terminal D which is open to all visitors.
The Chaplaincy offers its services, which are entirely free of charge, to all people at the airport: providing pastoral care for travellers, asylum seekers and airport and airline personnel; conducting church services and performing religious rites (sacraments, and liturgies for special occasions) and coordinating emergency care activities. It also collaborates closely with its various airport partners.
The Chaplaincy’s personnel are available to everyone, irrespective of belief, religion or world view. And their aim is to provide pastoral care which is relevant to our times, is based on the teachings of the Gospel of Christ and emphasises the value and appreciation of each and every individual.