Children’s Formation

Godly Play

The Children’s Gathering on the Square - The joint program takes place in The Loft at the back of St Peter’s Church, from 9 am to 10 am on Sunday mornings. It is appropriate for children who are curious about the bible stories that they hear in church, enrolled in preschool through the 6th grade of school. Older children are welcome to assist as ‘helpers.’

2013-2014 Program

June 8. Happy Birthday Church!  Pentecost Party.  Our last meeting of the year will be a celebration of all the blessings, discoveries and creations that occurred throughout the past year of Godly Play.  After a summer vacation, Godly Play will begin in September.

June 1. The Mystery of Pentecost. Pentecost is all about transformation. Today we remember the changes that transformed the disciples to apostles when they received the Holy Spirit. But that doesn’t just happen on Pentecost, does it? We are invited by this elusive presence of God, this spirit that is as close as our breath but hard to “see.” Was there a time that you can recall recently, when the Holy Spirit transformed you? What was that like? Did other people see it or feel it, too?

May 25. Day of work and re-creation. There is no planned story this Sunday. We will, however, have a lesson. Our lesson will grow from our work together as we spent time in re-creation.

May 18 Our Personal Saint. After his resurrection and before his ascension, Jesus used the time to prepare his followers to carry on his message. Some individuals have lived their lives in such extraordinary ways in service to God that we call those people saints. These extra ordinary individuals are recognize by the church, but many others live extra ordinary lives of service and are known to God alone. Today we invite the children to propose people from their own lives they feel live with God in an extra-ordinary way. You may wish to ask your child what choice they made in identifying the extra-ordinary in their lives.

May 11. Mary the Mother of Jesus. It could be said that Easter is the perfect season to focus on the life of Mary. While her willingness to be the mother of Jesus is and important aspect of her life, she continued to be lovingly present through the boyhood, adult life and death of her child. Today we will hear her story and hear how she mothered Jesus, and served to mother us all.

May 4. The Good Shepherd and the World Communion. This is a lesson will help us mesh the scripture we hold so dearly in our Bible and our weekly worship together (our Liturgy). As we revisit the Parable of the Good Shepherd and weave it together with all the people around the world who share in the Eucharist at communion tables everywhere. There is a connectedness that goes way beyond our own congregation. I wonder if you have come close to this table? I wonder if you have ever heard the words of the Good Shepherd spoken just for you?

Apr. 27 The Holy Family and Jesus and the Twelve. We begin the season of Easter and hear again the story of the Holy Family. Again we enter into the story of the Mother Mary, the Father Joseph, and Jesus. We meet Jesus as both baby and risen savior. In both forms, Jesus was, as he has been since, “reaching out to give the whole world a hug”. The story continues as we learn more about the twelve disciples of Jesus. We hear their names and learn a little about their lives and the symbols used to represent them. If you had a symbol to represent the essence of your life, what might it be?

Apr. 20 Easter Day – No Godly Play scheduled

Apr 13. The faces of Easter VII. Today we hear the final story in the week’s journey towards Easter. We walk through Jesus’ life death and resurrection. Quite a lot for anyone to digest and make sense of.  But then again as Christians we spend our whole lives trying to understand the story, don’t we? Your job as adults is no not turn away from the difficult story because you struggle with it. We all struggle with these mysteries, it is our job. Talk about the wonderings; say aloud “I wonder how Jesus can still be with us in this new way?” “I wonder how the sadness of Friday can turn into the pure celebration of Sunday?” It is the journey that is important. We walk together, we wonder together, we learn together as we move closer and closer to the goal.

Apr. 6 The faces of Easter VI. We continue on the journey toward the Christian mystery of Easter. At times we feel the journey will take forever and yet, before you know it there you are. We review the stories we have heard in the previous weeks and add some more. We remember the miracle of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, his boyhood adventure in the Temple of Jerusalem, his baptism in the Jordan River by his cousin John the Baptist, the 40 days in the desert preparing for his public ministry and how he carried out those ministries.  Today we go with Jesus as he becomes a parable himself.  You may wish to ask your child how this waiting and listening time feels to them. What are we waiting for?

Mar. 30. The faces of Easter IV & V. We are all on the journey toward the greatest Christian mystery, which we know as Easter. In Godly Play, we spend the six weeks of Lent revisiting pivotal moments in the life of Jesus and his journey to the cross and beyond. We add a little more to story each week. Today we hear again the stories of the miracle of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, his boyhood adventure in the Temple and his baptism in the Jordan River by his cousin John the Baptist.  Today we will join him as he spent 40 days in the desert wilderness and the temptations he was subject to there.  We hear about what that ministry would be like. Jesus’ healed peoples and taught Gods words using parables.  We also will spend some time listening to each other as we ponder what each of us felt was important in the stories for us.

Mar. 23. The faces of Easter III. We are all on the journey toward the greatest Christian mystery, which we know as Easter. In Godly Play, we spend the six weeks of Lent revisiting pivotal moments in the life of Jesus and his journey to the cross and beyond. We add a little more to story each week. Today we hear again the stories of the miracle of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem and his boyhood adventure in the Temple.  We will also spend some time listening to each other as we ponder what each of us felt was important in the stories for us.

Mar. 16. The Faces of Easter  I & II. Today we heard the first two in our seven story series called ‘The Faces of Easter’.  We will remember Jesus’ life and ministry over seven stories that we merge into all the Sundays of Godly Play in Lent. The first story tells of the birth of a baby, born to be a king, but not the kind of king that people were expecting. This king was called ‘The Word” and was born a wordless child. The second story will remember how very human and how very divine Jesus was when he was a boy. In this story from Luke, Jesus stayed in Jerusalem after a Passover pilgrimage with his parents and went to the Temple to study with the priests there. Jesus’ parents were understandably upset, Jesus answered, why were you worried, didn’t you know I would be in my Father’s house?  We wondered about these stories together by bringing pieces of other Godly Play stories that we think are important to “help tell the story”. You might like to ask your child what they brought to the story today and why?

Mar. 9. The Mystery of Easter (a.k.a. Lenten Puzzle). Today we hear the story of the Mystery of Lent. We hear this story just as Lent begins to remind us that a change is coming and that we are about to enter another mystery.  This time of waiting is like Advent, but it is even longer because the mystery it prepares us for is an even bigger mystery – Easter! The ‘story’ is really a puzzle of 6 pieces in the shape of a cross to represent the 6 weeks of Lent. It is purple on one side, the color of waiting, royalty and seriousness.  On the other side, the puzzle is white, the color of pure celebration! That is the paradox of the season – it is both serious and somber but promises pure celebration in the resurrection.

Mar 2 The Story of St. Patrick – St. Patrick, someone who traveled for God. Everyone thinks they know about St. Patrick but there is much more to his life than most think. Patrick was born in or near the year 390, and he most certainly was not born Irish. Most likely he was of mixed Welsh and Roman heritage and grew up in the Western part of England (or possibly Scotland). Patrick traveled from one part of the British Isles to another several times, not always by his own choosing. Patrick loved learning and taught about God, the Holy Spirit and Jesus wherever he went.

Feb. 23 Parable of the Mustard Seed – We heard the Parable of the Mustard Seed today. This will be the last parable we will hear in this cycle of Godly Play stories told in the Loft this year. Mustard seeds are very, tiny seeds. The ones we use for cooking are actually mustard seedpods, the seeds are so small that hundreds are packed into that tiny mustard seed we see floating in our pickle jar. We wondered how something so large could come from something so small? With God’s touch, great things can grow.

Feb. 16 Parable of the Sower – A lot of people think they have this parable all figured out. If you put seeds in good soil they grow, right? Thorny soil is problematic; rock soil is nearly impossible and skipping the soil makes seeds merely bird food. But Jesus reminds us in the telling of this parable that the seeds grow to some extent everywhere. So what is that seed he is talking about? The soil? Does this mean that good soil is not really important? We have pondered the meaning of these things.

Feb. 9 Story of “St.” Valentine – Several times during the church year, the lives of individuals who have served God in a particular way, are celebrated. Some of these individuals lived so long ago that there is almost no tangible evidence of their lives, all that remains is the story. Today we celebrate the life of “St.” Valentine who  loved for God. Valentine was executed of February 14, 270. The practice of sending love messages on February 14 originated in part from the story of Valentines’ note to the jailer’s blind daughter. This day celebrates love and commemorates Valentines life.

Jan. 26 Work Day – Due to the St Peter’s Annual Meeting scheduled for this morning, we will be spending the entire Godly Play time in community building ‘work time,’ during which the children may chose to create, explore or serve in the maintenance of the Godly Play room and supplies.  The Parable of the Good Samaritan will be shared on Feb. 2

Feb. 2 Parable of the Good Samaritan – Parables are the closest thing we have to the actual words of Jesus. We treat these stories with great respect and wonder. Today we heard the story of the Good Samaritan. Why would a man whose people (the Samaritans) was part of a culture with a great deal of distrust and enmity toward the Jews (who felt the same about the Samaritans) would stop and help (and really care with his time, money and concern) when a priest and Levite (both thought to be devout Jews) crossed to the other side of the road and passed by).

Jan. 19 Parable of the Good Shepherd – We heard the Parable of the Good Shepherd, which is found in a gold parable box, because parables are gifts that were given to us 2,000 years ago. In the story, The Good Shepherd knows each of his sheep by name and they know the sound of his voice. While he shows the sheep the way to the good green grass and the cool, clear water, he also goes wherever he needs to when they are in danger.

Jan. 5 The Holy Family and the Wise Men’s Gifts – This Sunday we have anticipated the arrival of Epiphany (January 6, tomorrow) by changing the color of our altar and calendar to green.  The in the tradition of the church, green symbolizes the green things of Gods earth and referring to growth of the spirit of God within us in response to Jesus coming at Christmas. The church’s mission is to grow the Gospel of Christ  from its source in the Jewish community to all nations on earth.) Epiphany is the day our tradition designates to remember the arrival of the Magi in Bethlehem. We recalled together all the weeks in Advent as we had before Christmas but gave special attention to the final blue candle, the one that represents the 3 Kings. Here we stopped and focused on what the three gifts were the Magi brought for the baby who is the Messiah. Gold is not a surprising gift for a king, but did you know that frankincense was used in worship thousands of years ago and is still used today? Myrrh is a resin that was burned at funerals. What did the three wise men foreshadow about this baby that maybe others did not yet realize?

Dec. 22 Advent IV The Wise men and Christmas
This is the fourth Sunday of Advent, the first two blue candles; the pink candle and the third blue candle are lit. This is the week when we remember the Three Magi who knew all the stars in the sky. When they saw “a wild star” they just knew they had to follow it and so they began the long journey from their homeland in the east. We remember them on the fourth week of Advent but also acknowledge that they really arrive for our celebration of Epiphany on January 6th because they have so far to go. Finally, we light the white Christ candle. White in the church is the color of pure celebration and so we light this candle for Christmas, the day Christ was born.

Dec. 15 Advent III The Shepherds
On this third Sunday in Advent the first, second and third candles of the Wreath are lit. This third candle is the only pink candle of the wreath. The pink candle reminds us that amid all this waiting is a special kind of joy. Pink also reminds us of Jesus’ mother, Mary. The story we hear how the shepherds were called from their fields by the angels and told to run to Bethlehem to see the Savior.

Dec. 8 Advent II The Holy Family
This is the second Sunday in Advent. If you are keeping an Advent Wreath, you will light the first and second candles today. On this second week we remember the Holy Family’s trip to the City of David, Bethlehem. They got there so late; there was only a stable available for them to sleep in that night.

Dec. 1 Advent 1 – The people 2,000 years ago were waiting for a Messiah and we wait today. On this first Sunday in Advent, we remember the prophets who pointed us to Bethlehem, the city where King David had been born 1,000 years earlier. They knew that something special was to happen there. They were not clear what it was but they told the people to “Pay Attention, for something amazing was to happen in the City of David.

November 24.  Jonah, the Backward Prophet.  (part two)  After Jonah is rescued from a terrible fate, God speaks to Jonah again. This time Jonah does what is asked of him and God spares Nineveh from destruction. Yet Jonah is not happy with the outcome. Jonah is hard to understand. Or is he?

November 10. The Ten Best Ways to Live. Today we will hear the story of the 10 Commandments. We will talk together how hard they are to keep all the time, but God asks us to try. The firs four are about how to Love God wile 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. 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. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with al 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.”

November 3. Honored Seniors Brunch at St Peter’s and work day. This Sunday at St. Peter’s church there will be a special brunch prepared to honor those church members 90 years old and greater. At least six of these special people are able to attend church regularly. The children of the Loft from both Sts. Peter and Andrew have been invited to attend. Several children with performing skills will entertain the group and the rest of us will enjoy a brunch, listen to our elders and time permitting we will work in the loft on some reflection projects.

FOCUS for Oct. 27: The All Saints Lesson. Today we will hear the All Saints Story in celebration of All Saints Day (the day that follows All Hallows Eve!) In our Episcopal /Anglican tradition we trust that each of us is a member of the Communion of Saints just by virtue of being one of God’s children. The symbol in the story is a mirror, an invitation to remember that God loves each of us just the way we are. And yet, we are called to try to be our best selves in everyday life. Saints in our tradition – St. Francis, St. Patrick, St. Nicholas and so many more, are only part of the story. We will wonder with your children who are the saints they know personally…whom do they see as saints?

FOCUS for Oct. 20: The Great Family. The story today will be told using the Desert Box. We will enter the story about Abram and Sarai (who God later renamed Abraham and Sarah) who left their home and family for a place that God would show them. They found God was with them everywhere they went, not just in this place or that place. God promised them that he would make of them a “Great Family” and God did keep God’s promise. Abraham and Sarah began a great family of many generations including us. “As many as the grains of sand in the desert, as many as the stars in the sky.”

FOCUS for Oct 13:  The Flood and the Ark.  We will hear the story of the Great Flood today.  God’s beautiful creation had changed a great deal before the flood and God chose Noah and his family to build the ark and preserve the creatures while the earth was washed lean. After the rain stopped and the earth was dry enough to depart the ark, God made a covenant with all people that this would never happen again. The sign God gave was a “bow in the sky” which we think of as a rainbow.

FOCUS for Sept 29 : The Days of Creation “In the beginning…”The story today is from the very first line of Genesis. In the story of creation, we begin to trace God’s elusive presence with God’s People. With the gift of each day, God said, “It is good”. We will spend some time remembering what was created on those first six days. We will also spend some time thinking about the seventh day when even God rested and gave us the gift of a day to remember all the gifts from the other days.

FOCUS for Oct. 6. Celebration of the Life of St. Francis. This Sunday is the closest to the feast day of St. Francis. St. Francis’s life is popularly associated with the blessing of animals but we will hear that his life was much larger than that. St. Francis practiced rigid rules of poverty for himself and his followers, he loved to sing and wrote poetry, he loved all manner Gods Creation and considered them to be his brothers and sisters, and he created the first recorded living nativity scene to celebrate on Christmas.

Children’s Formation

The Cathedral’s youth ministry is a joint effort with St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, our next door neighbor on Queen Emma Street. Youth ministry is a fun, exciting, safe way for teens to explore and develop their relationships with God.

More information about the Christian Ministry for Children during the 10:30 worship hour can be found on our website. Classes start Sunday, Sept. 9. Please contact the Cathedral’s new director of formation, Susan Lukens, or 524-2822.

Christian Ministries for Children is up and running with our partner on the square, St. Peter’s. Under the creative and talented teaching of Annalise Castro, Lay Associate at St. Peter’s, children ages 3 through fifth grade attend class in a special room designated for their learning, called “the Loft.” Castro is trained in the curriculum designed by Jerome Berryman called Godly Play, which presents Biblical stories in four categories, Sacred stories, Parable, Liturgical Lessons, Silence. The telling of the stories culminates with asking the children to “wonder” about certain aspects or people in the story. Godly play is deeply imaginative, incorporating the essence of the mystery of God for the young children engaged in the lessons.

We are lucky to have such a talented teacher facilitating our children’s Christian formation. After two years of teaching English on a volunteer basis in Thailand, Castro returned to complete her B.A. in Asian Studies from the University of Hawai’i. A member of St. Peter’s since 2008, Castro became a staff member in May 2012, as lay associate working with parish priest Father Andrew.

Castro has a deep spiritual calling to the Christian classroom. When asked why she has chosen to teach Christian formation to young children, she says, “When I was a child, my family didn’t attend church. I went with a friend one Sunday for the very first time. I remember how special and safe Sunday School felt to me . . . Years later, I realized it was the love of God in that place that set it apart.”

Castro’s determination to bring the same kind of experience to children attending Sunday School classes at Saint Andrew’s Cathedral and St. Peter’s is evident in the amazing room she spent the summer renovating for the classes. Called “the Loft,” it is set up with Godly Play centers for storytelling, complete with a sand box representing the desert. Again, Castro’s own testimony reveals her inner spiritual teacher. “I want the programs I work on to have the same feeling for the kids on the square today. That they may have the opportunity to feel first hand the love of God and, hopefully, one day, they, too, will look back and say this is a place that was special to me.”
We are grateful for the blessing of Castro’s gift for teaching and the laughter and joy our children will find in her classroom

An In-Depth Look at Godly Play

By Ann Katherine Reimers

From March 2 through 4 this year, St. Andrew’s Cathedral generously sponsored congregants Beth Young and Ann Reimers to attend a Godly Play Core Training at Church of the Epiphany in Kaimukī. It was a wonderful, intensive experience that included a study of the “Spirituality of the Child Plenary,” opening and closing worships, learning together, and individually performing Godly Play sacred stories, parables, and liturgical action stories, and learning to configure a Godly Play classroom. Young and her son regularly attend Sunday Loft sessions, where Young has performed Godly Play stories.

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. The trainers for the three-day program were Sally Mancini and Caryl Menkhus Creswell. Jenny Wallace, long involved in Children’s Ministry at St. Andrew’s, coordinated the training, and has since continued to facilitate the maintenance and development of Godly Play skills, organizing storytelling practice sessions and assistance in creating Godly Play spaces in various churches in the Diocese. Wallace, who was recently accepted to be a trainer for trainers of Godly Play, helped facilitate the implementation of Godly Play at  Emmanuel, St. James, and, along with Annalise Castro at the Loft, has been working through the summer to get ready to begin these Christian children’s ministry classes in the fall using Godly Play.
Godly Play participants were able to attend two woodworking sessions, courtesy of Clarice Corbett, from Emmanuel in Kailua, to create Godly Play settings, props, and figures. A set of materials was made for each of the churches involved in the training.The 17 participants included congregants of St. Matthew’s, Waimānalo, St. Andrew’s, St. James, Kamuela, Hawai’i, St. Mark’s and St. George’s, Honolulu, and Emannuel, Kailua.

Among the subjects at the training were 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 St. Andrew’s Cathedral.
*Source: Godly Play Core Training material

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