Children

For Children

Godly Play is our Church School Program for children beginning with 3-year olds through the 5th grade. The goal of Godly Play is to teach children the art of using religious language (parables, sacred stories, silence, and liturgical actions) to help them become more fully aware of the mystery of God's presence in their lives. Godly Play shapes the spiritual development of each child individually and models the appropriate moral behavior expected of people in a Christian Community.

"Godly Play" is a term coined by Jerome Berryman, an Episcopal Priest, author and teacher, to describe an approach to children's spiritual formation that is based on creating a sacred space in which to present the Biblical stories of our faith, wonder about them together, and then allow the children open-ended opportunities, usually with art supplies, to engage the story on their own terms. Children are invited into the sacred space (classroom) by an adult greeter so that each is ready to enter quietly and without coats, toys or other distractions.

Godly Play follows the worship pattern of the Holy Eucharist by getting ready, listening and responding to a Bible story, sharing food and distinctly saying goodbye to one another. The stories are told very simply, with simple props, and without interpretation or moral instruction. After a story is presented, the children and the storyteller wonder together about aspects of the story that draw their interest.

After a time of exploring the story, the story props are put away, the children choose art supplies they would like to work with, and they spend some time creating whatever they choose, in response to what they feel is most important in the story, or most interesting. Children are also given the opportunity to explore stories which have been presented to them. They each have a folder to hold paintings, writings, sketches, poetry that children work on, sometimes over several weeks for a particular story that relates to their personal experiences.

This is play. It is Godly. It is meeting God along with children rather than teaching them what we adults think they ought to know. Our faith stories are very powerful and offer plenty to think about even without our elaboration on what they "mean." Godly Play is often deeply satisfying for the adults who engage in the stories along with the children.

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