Children’s Formation

Godly Play – The Children’s Gathering on the Square

Sundays, 9:15 – 9:55 am
The Loft at St. Peter’s Church

Godly Play 2015All children who have had some experience in a group setting (e.g., pre-school or elementary school) are invited to participate.  We are located in the “Loft” at the back of the St. Peter’s Parish Hall, a short walk across the mini-park behind The Cathedral of St. Andrew.

The program begins on Sunday, September 13, first Sunday following Labor Day, and continues on most Sundays until Pentecost. We attempt to begin at approximately 9:15 am to allow children attending the 8:00 am service at St. Andrew’s a chance to arrive. We conclude a few minutes before 10:00 am to allow children attending the 10:00 am service at St. Peter’s a chance to arrive to church on time.

In the class, we follow a curriculum titled “Godly Play,” which follows a Montessori-style instructional methodology.  The children are told a brief, bible-based story and then invited to work with art materials or items from the story.  We conclude the morning session with a “feast” (actually a light snack) after sharing a small prayer of thanksgiving.

Lessons for October

October 11 – The 10 Best Ways to Live
Today in the Loft, we will hear the story of the 10 Best Ways to Live. We will talk about how hard they are to keep all the time but that God asks us to try. The first four are about how to Love God while the last six are ways to help people love one another. The middle one, “Remember the Sabbath”, is a bridge between Loving God and Loving People.

October 18 – The 10 Best Ways to Live continued….
The 10 Best Ways are found in the Old Testament and were given to Moses, but Jesus simplified what we are called to do in the New Testament. Jesus said: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” We will use our work time to explore how we can keep these two commandments.

October 25 – The Ark and the Tent
After Moses received the tablets of the commandments (the 10 Best Ways to Live) God’s people created a special container to protect them.  We call that container “the ark of the covenant”.  The ark was set in the sacred tent of meeting. They carried the tent and ark wherever they journeyed and believed that God’s presence was to be encountered there.

Please feel free to contact Beth Young if you have any questions.  You are also welcome to sit at the side of the room to observe if you would like to see the group “in action.”

Beth Young

An In-Depth Look at Godly Play

Godly Play is based on the teachings and writings of Jerome W. Berryman, including Godly Play: An Imaginative Approach to Religious Education and other works.

Among the subjects at the training are the four genres of Godly Play language:

  • the Language of the Sacred Story, usually three-dimensional, in which God is the main character and the People of God encounter God’s “elusive presence”;
  • the Language of the Parable, generally two-dimensional, “supporting the timeless quality of Jesus’ words to us”;
  • the Language of the Liturgical Action story, usually both two- and three-dimensional, “supporting a deeper understanding of the liturgical focus.” Liturgy “helps express inner and outer existential realities in a way that allows others to participate”; and
  • the Language of Silence, which is assumed to be full, rather than empty.

Each language genre teaches us something about children and their faith journey. In the Language of the Sacred Story, “we understand that children have already experienced the mystery of God. What they need is an appropriate language by which to identify, name, value and express in community what such an event means.”

The “very different and curious kind of communication of the Language of the Parable gives us the “best approximation of the voice of Jesus,” which children need to hear during their language formation.*  In the Language of Liturgical Action, we learn that “Children need meaning and companions to share their faith journey. Like any art, to learn to worship, one must worship.” The Liturgical Action Lessons help show us how.The Language of Silence is especially important in a world in which children (and adults, I believe) “have a growing inability to listen.” Beyond being silent, children need “stillness (from within) . . . if they are going to learn.”

There is a theology to the Godly Play room. It is a sacred space, set up carefully for children, the way the church sanctuary is set up. (Children in the Episcopal Church, we learned, are entitled to equal money, space and time as the adults.) The core story is that of the Holy Family:  “God so loved the world he sent the Christ Child to us as a human, always with his arms outstretched, ready to give us a hug.” Godly Play provides the tools for children’s journeys of faith: its space is inviting, and creates mystery and wonder. We are visually reminded it is a holy space. It invites touching things, yet it is clear there is something reverential about them. It is a quiet space that facilitates prayer and contemplation.

Godly Play can be a trans-formative experience for everyone involved, whatever their ages. We are lucky to have this program in partnership with St. Peter’s as the foundation of our Children’s Ministries at The Cathedral of St. Andrew.
*Source: Godly Play Core Training material

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