Category Archives: Church News

The people behind the curtain: How American Airlines keeps you safe

By Stacey Doud

If you’re like me when you have to travel by air, you get on a plane, try to chill out, read a book, have a drink and just trust that you will land safely. But there is so much more involved behind the scenes that you will never see…until now.

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 Rev. McBrayer

While I was covering a recent story, I was fortunate enough to meet Reverend Greg McBrayer, who is a Chief Flight Dispatcher with American Airlines (AA), a Chaplain and the Director of Dallas/Fort Worth Airport’s (DFW) Interfaith Chaplaincy.

Rev. McBrayer was kind enough to offer me a tour of American Airlines’ Flight Control, which is housed in the Robert W. Baker Integrated Operations Center (IOC) on the AA Headquarters Campus in Dallas.

McBrayer has worked at AA for 40 years (35 years as a Flight Controller) and is very familiar with the ins and outs of making air travel as safe as possible for passengers, as well as working for over 20 years as one of the spiritual lighthouses for passengers and crew.

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The IOC on the AA Campus (Photo: Greg McBrayer)

To get some “layman’s” understanding, watch the last episode of season two of the AMC TV show, Breaking Bad, or the movie, Flight, starring Denzel Washington. These offerings give a “movie magic” glimpse into how airplanes are advised to increase or decrease altitude and airspeed, etc. to avoid bad weather, other planes and more. The situations in these fictional presentations are as rare as when Captains Chelsey Sullenberger and Jeffrey Skiles landed an Airbus A320 in the Hudson River in 2009: It could happen, but rarely does because of the folks working behind the scenes.

McBrayer led us into a large room with many workstations. It reminded me of the trading floor on Wall Street, but without the frantic activity.

“The building is divided into two levels. This bottom floor is mainly admin stuff that are support roles for all of the different departments that make this airline work,” McBrayer said. “This is where the ‘nine to five’ work goes on. These hundreds of folks support the hundreds of people that work upstairs where the Flight Control level is.”

Several glass offices lined the room, one of which is the Prayer Room.

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Prayer Room

“This is an extremely high stress job that we’re in, so we need a quiet place we can go. This room becomes that sanctuary,” said McBrayer. “People have to surrender when they come to work, and [humans] are not good at doing that. It’s out of your hands,” McBrayer said. He intercedes in that perceived loss of control and brings peaceful words to his co-workers when he can.

McBrayer offers ministry in a larger conference room every Monday. If an employee can’t make it to the service, he or she can dial a dedicated phone number to listen in to hear the message.

The other rooms are used primarily for training and classes, including the training that Flight Controllers, including McBrayer, have to take part in every month to keep their certificates active and valid with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

“We have a whole class of guys going through training right now. We have the largest class I’ve ever seen in my 40-year tenure,” McBrayer explained. “This is an extremely long process and it takes about a year. They’re hired and are in here [training rooms] for several months, and then they train with an experienced flight controller until they’re ‘checked out.’”

In his four decades of service, McBrayer has seen a few changes.

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Workstation (Photo: Greg McBrayer)

“Probably the biggest change during my tenure here has been the advancement in technology. This a very, very technical job here, and it always has been, but it’s at a whole different level now. It [technology] changes weekly. It can be difficult to keep up with,” McBrayer explained. “It’s guided by a lot of things that we have no control over, like fuel prices and world events.”

Rev. McBrayer then led us upstairs to the Flight Control Room, which is really the heart of the IOC.

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Photo courtesy of Greg McBrayer

This huge area also looked like something from Wall Street, with the same endless workstations, two or three large screen computer monitors in each station that displayed all of the AA planes in the air at that moment. Some of the employees were in charge of keeping track of the weather, so their screens were full of different types of weather maps. Others were monitoring national and international air traffic.

Should a crisis break out, whether due to weather, terrorism or any other situation that risks the safety of AA passengers, there is a “Command Center,” housed in the IOC. This is similar to the “Situation Room” at the White House. The required staff convene in this room when something like 9/11 happens to formulate a plan of action to address the safety of passengers and ground control staff. The room contains maps of the world and has several clocks displaying the time across international time zones. Each workstation has a phone and a computer, so that all participants can stay current on the progress of each issue, whether it be foreign or domestic.

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Command Center

Next time you are on a flight, remember all the good people behind the scenes that help get you to your destination safely!

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Peace Together walks together for interfaith harmony

downloadPeace Together, a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, held their second annual Walk on November 2, starting at The Colleyville Masjid and ending at Congregation Beth Israel, also in Colleyville.

Peace Together is an inclusive interfaith organization based in Tarrant Country, whose mission is to build relationships among people of all beliefs, cultures, and backgrounds. The Peace Together Walk is a public activity and event that encourages people to put this into action by linking individuals from diverse communities with a public walk designed to build and strengthen relationships between member organizations and the general public.

Attendees from all faiths, religions and even those absent of religion, gathered together to fellowship with each other and to promote the idea that people from all (or no) religions CAN come together for the bigger picture and benefit the community with interfaith peace.

Folks wearing hijabs ate with folks wearing yarmulkes, as well as others who had no outside indication of their faith. There were also several atheists present, as Peace Together has no restrictions about who may attend the Walk. Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker gave a tour of the Beth Israel synagogue and explained the items on the altar to the people in attendance.

Peace Together was founded in 2017 by Howard Rosenthal, a resident of Southlake.

“In August of 2017, there were some horrible things that happened in Charlottesville, VA. I became very disturbed by what I saw there. I saw people marching and carrying torches, wearing Swastikas, yelling out anti – Semitic and anti-Muslim lines,” Rosenthal said. “I just felt like maybe, in society, there was some kind of turning point. I had no idea what to do, but I just felt horrible. I started thinking that there must be something that folks, such as the people you see out here today, could do,” he said.

“And so I started talking to people and meeting with people from different institutions, some religious, from the Grapevine, Southlake and Colleyville areas, but I also met with some with no religious ties whatsoever, including Humanists, Free-Thinkers and Atheists. We started gathering, and we all felt as if we had a very important, but rather simple, singular mission of building relationships with our neighbors,” Rosenthal explained.

“We just started from there. We held what we call, ‘The Big Event’ down the street at United Methodist Church here in Colleyville in February of 2018. I thought, ‘Maybe we’ll get 30 or 40 people,’ but we got 300 – 400 people that came that February day. We had speakers from all different belief systems, and then we decided to put on a Walk. We did that in November of last year and found that it was successful. People did want to come together and have an opportunity to meet new people and to share their peaceful thoughts about the state of the world,” said Rosenthal.

“We don’t encourage or allow people to ‘witness’ to people of other faiths. That’s not who we are at all. As an example, a year ago, after the terrible killings at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, we held a vigil here at this synagogue and the Peace Together community was here in large numbers. It was standing room only,” Rosenthal added.

“After the things that went on in Christchurch in New Zealand, we held a vigil at Town Center in Southlake and people knew that we would be there to support each other, and because we have built these relationships, that we could count on each other. Those kinds of times are so meaningful, along with the peaceful activities like the one we are able to do today, define what we are about,” Rosenthal explained.

“There’s a lack of tolerance and understanding in today’s society, and we want to try to keep with this mission. Throughout the year, we will have some smaller events, like we had at First Presbyterian with Pastor Ashley. We are open to other things that will bring people together for this common mission.

“We have received some information about something coming up at White’s Chapel. I think there’s some information being handed out about an event in February. We just want to continue this message. We may not look alike or think alike, but as long as we are peaceful, then why should I impose my history or background on somebody else?” Rosenthal said before he was called away to make a presentation.

Peace Together is currently made up of the following organizations/faith communities:

  • Baha’is of Northeast Tarrant County
  • Bear Valley Community Church
  • Brite Divinity School
  • The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
  • Congregation Beth Israel
  • Daughters of Abraham
  • Euless First United Methodist Church
  • Fellowship of Freethought – Dallas
  • First Presbyterian Church of Grapevine
  • First United Methodist Church of Colleyville
  • Good Shepherd Catholic Community
  • Islamic Association of Mid-Cities
  • Islamic Center of MOMIN
  • Islamic Center of Southlake
  • The Jewish Federation of Fort Worth & Tarrant County
  • Missional Wisdom Foundation
  • Multicultural Alliance
  • Professional Good Doers
  • Roots
  • St. John Church
  • White’s Chapel United Methodist Church

For more information about Peace Together and to find out what events are being scheduled, visit PeaceTogetherEvents.com, call 817-281-5254 or email info@peacetogetherevents.com.

A special THANK YOU goes out to Deb Hinton for inviting us out! 

Enjoy these photos from the Peace Together Walk held on November 2, 2019:

 

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Nativities from Around the World to be displayed in Colleyville

PRESS RELEASE

COME AND SEE:

  • Nativities from Around the World – December 6-8, 1:00-9:00 pm each day
  • Community Christmas Concert on December 7 at 7:00 pm
  • Christmas Devotional Broadcast with The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square December 8 7:00 pm

LOCATION: 500 W. McDonwell School Road, Colleyville 

COST: Free, Families welcome

The Colleyville Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will present “Come and See,” an exhibit of nativities from around the world December 6-8, 1:00-9:00 PM each day. In conjunction with the exhibit, there will be a live nativity dress-up activity for patrons, a free Community Christmas Concert on Saturday, December 7 at 7:00 PM, and the broadcast of a Christmas Devotional Sunday, December 8 at 7:00 PM, which will include music from The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square. All are welcome! The event will take place at 500 W. McDonwell School Road in Colleyville.

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Mormons don’t want you calling them Mormons anymore

By Doug Criss, CNN

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© George Frey/Getty Images Historic Mormon Salt Lake Temple sits on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is embarking on a rebranding effort of sorts.

The church, commonly referred to as the Mormons, really wants people to stop using that word. It also wants people to stop using LDS as an abbreviation. From now on, it prefers that people use the church’s full name, and when a shortened reference is needed, to just use “the Church” or “Church of Jesus Christ.”

Read more from MSN…