Godly Play

Here at The Church of the Annunciation, we offer Godly Play, a unique Montessori-based children’s Christian education curriculum for children 3 years through third grade. We are attracted to this curriculum because of its primary premise: that children are not empty vessels that require filling with what they should believe or how to know God. Rather, it is based on the principle that God is already in children’s lives, and they may even be aware of God’s presence from a very early age. What children need help in learning is how to be open to God’s presence, and to develop a language (both verbal and non-verbal) with which to interpret and express what they already know and feel.

In our Godly Play classroom we have created a sacred space in which lessons are presented via story-telling of Old Testament sacred stories, New Testament parables, Church liturgy and the three great mysteries of Christmas, Easter and Pentecost. The children then are able to reflect upon the lessons through play, using the same lesson materials and simple art materials to come closer to the presence of God that is with them constantly.

Rev. Jerome Berryman, the founder of Godly Play offers this: Godly Play values process, openness and discovery. Godly Play teaches children the art of using Christian language – parable, sacred story, silence and liturgical action – helping them become more fully aware of the mystery of God’s presence in their lives.

 When Christian language is learned by the Godly Play approach, it is learned as a means to know God and to make meaning of our lives. This approach is quite different from the traditional model in which the teacher tells the children what they need to know. Godly Play is not about things that are that simple. It is not just about learning lessons or keeping children entertained. It is about locating each lesson in the whole system of Christian language and involving the creative process to discover the depths of meaning in them. It’s about understanding how each of the stories of God’s people connects with the child’s own experience and relationship with God. Godly Play respects the innate spirituality of children and encourages curiosity and imagination in experiencing the mystery and joy of God.

 The goal of Godly Play is to show how to be open to the Holy Spirit, The Creator, and the Redeemer all at once and all the time in every place. To achieve this goal is to help children become deeply rooted as Christians and yet at the same time use this powerful language and community to be open and creative.

Matthew 18:3

And (Jesus) said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.

What is Godly Play?

From Rev. Jerome Berryman, the founder of Godly Play: Godly Play values process, openness and discovery. Godly Play teaches children the art of using Christian language – parable, sacred story, silence and liturgical action – helping them become more fully aware of the mystery of God’s presence in their lives.

 When Christian language is learned by the Godly Play approach, it is learned as a means to know God and to make meaning of our lives. This approach is quite different from the traditional model in which the teacher tells the children what they need to know. Godly Play is not about things that are that simple. It is not just about learning lessons or keeping children entertained. It is about locating each lesson in the whole system of Christian language and involving the creative process to discover the depths of meaning in them. It’s about understanding how each of the stories of God’s people connects with the child’s own experience and relationship with God. Godly Play respects the innate spirituality of children and encourages curiosity and imagination in experiencing the mystery and joy of God.

 The goal of Godly Play is to show how to be open to the Holy Spirit, The Creator, and the Redeemer all at once and all the time in every place. To achieve this goal is to help children become deeply rooted as Christians and yet at the same time use this powerful language and community to be open and creative.

In the coming months, Wendy will be making Godly Play presentations to the Vestry, the men’s breakfast group and the ECW board. She will be presenting a lesson just as she would to the children. If you would like her to make a presentation to your group, please contact her or David Lowe.

The plan is to begin with our youngest children in the nursery classroom with a small amount of materials and lessons. Then, over time, expand the curriculum to older children with more materials and lessons. It’s a program that grows in depth with the age of the child and is even used with teens and adults in some parishes. The curriculum is material intensive and consequently, we will be asking for volunteers to use their talents in help us to create the lessons. We will need the talents of woodworking, painting, sewing, and crafting. The program also relays heavily on volunteers not only to teach but also in support of the Godly Play classroom. We hope some of you can find time to support this amazing program.