Meet Greg McBrayer. He’s a Chief Flight Controller for American Airlines. He’s also an Anglican priest. He serves both roles each day at American Airlines’ headquarters in Forth Worth.
McBrayer spent many years with US Airways in Pittsburgh before being transferred to Fort Worth after the merger with American Airlines in 2013.
Each work day, he sits at a desk overlooking several monitors, with a ground staff below that resembles the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. The Apostle Magazine, a publication of the Anglican Church in North America, recently caught up with McBrayer:
This is where it is run tactically every day. It’s also the place where God has called me to serve Him in ministry.
Life changed for McBrayer after 9/11. He had causally attended a Lutheran seminary, but the attacks pushed McBrayer to take his seminary role more seriously.
At that time, we were going through a great deal at US Air and then 9/11 came and there was an even greater need. 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.
Colleagues knew he was a minister and began gravitating toward him for wisdom and prayer. McBrayer used the opportunity to form a Bible study.
I went to senior leadership and I said, ‘Look, I’d love to come here on my own time, and if I could be provided space, offer Biblical study.
He began offering a midday gathering, once per week, in a command center used by top AA executives to plot strategy and deal with irregular operations and other issues. Over time, it morphed from more of a Bible study to a full service with liturgy using the Anglican Book of Common Prayer.
Reflecting upon its growth and the tangible results, McBrayer said:
It immediately started to grow. It crossed denominational lines. It really didn’t matter. It was just an opportunity to come together as Christians in a workplace setting on our own time, on breaks.
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.
On Call For All AA Employees
McBrayer has become a popular figure. On call 24/7 and well-known beyond AA’s Forth Worth campus (which alone has over 6,000 employees), he has become a resource many turn to in time of need. As The Apostle reports:
The entire company has his contact information to reach him for ministry needs. He has a hotline in which people all over the world can call in to his weekly services to participate from their desk. And, he can be deployed by the company at any time to travel for pastoral needs.
Looking back on the unusual development of his career, McBrayer said:
The greatest reward I get is getting up every morning and getting to say, ‘you know what, God is going to use me today at American Airlines to do Kingdom work.’
That quote–taken out of context–sounds like a delusional CEO trying to justify the next round of layoffs or benefit cuts. But in the context of McBrayer’s life and ministry, I’d say the description fits.
image: @The_ACNA / Twitter