Children’s Formation

Godly Play

The Children’s Gathering on the Square
Sundays, 9:00 – 10:00 am
The Loft at St. Peter’s Church

The program takes place in The Loft at the back of St. Peter’s Church, from 9:00 to 10:00 am on Sunday mornings. It is appropriate for children who are curious about the bible stories that they hear in church, enrolled in pre-school through the 4th grade of school. Older children are welcome to assist as “helpers” or participate in “The ROCK” (Relationships, Outreach, Christ & Kids) program located in the Sun/Son room at St. Peter’s.

November 9. The Life of Moses (the conclusion). Today we will present the continuation of the story of Moses. When Moses came down from Mt. Sinai, his face was shining after his being so close to God and God being so close to him. The same thing happened when he went into the Tabernacle to pray. He was in the wilderness for forty years as a shepherd working for is wife’s father. Then he was in the wilderness another forty years before his death on Mt. Nebo where he looked over the river Jordan to see the Promised Land, but he could not cross over.

November 16. Story of the Books of the Bible in Godly Play Groups. Students are encouraged to locate the stories and lessons for the day in the context of the Bible. Today we will review how the Bible is organized. We will use a wooden bookshelf with wooden “books,” each labeled with the title of one book of the Bible. These titles are color coded to represent the types of writings, such as the Law (5 books), the Gospels (4 books), Old Testament history (11 books), Paul’s Letters (13 books), and so on. It is hoped that the students will come to regard the Bible as a library devoted to the history, present and future, of the people of God.

Godly Play

The Children’s Gathering on the Square. The program takes place in The Loft at the back of St Peter’s Church, from 9am to 10am 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’ or participate in “The Rock” program located in a neighboring room.

October  19      Exodus.  Today we will hear about the adventures of the People of God as they go out from slavery into freedom through the water.  For Jewish people, the Feast of Passover keeps this core event alive, for Christians, Baptism reawakens this event.  This is an absolutely huge story, but for our lesson today it will be compressed to focus on the People’s experiences of God’s elusive presence.

Recent Sessions

October 12 – The Great Family. The lesson today will be told using the Desert Box. We will enter the story about Abram and Sarai, (God later renamed them 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 that promise. Abraham and Sarah began a great family of many generations including us.

October 5 – The Flood and the Ark. The lesson for today is the story of the Great Flood. 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 clean. 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”, a rainbow.

View the 2013-2014 Program

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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