Tag Archives: godly play

Sacred Space for Godly Play

by Jeannie Babb

light on church pew

Liturgical spaces help us come close to God

Where do you go when you need to pause, ground yourself, and reconnect with the Holy Spirit?

Sometimes I like to slip into an empty church and walk up the aisle, watching where the sun slants through the windows and lightly touching the wood of each pew until I find a place to kneel. I notice how the space feels sacred even when empty of the souls who have invested it with such meaning. A church is a people, not merely a building; yet I find holiness in this very space set aside for worship, as if the wood and stones are saturated with so many prayers from thousands and thousands of services.

Another place I find that sense of reverence is in the Godly Play space. Continue reading

Enclosing a space in which to be open

A book review and interview with Jerome Berryman, author of Becoming Like a Child: The Curiosity of Maturity Beyond the Norm

by Jeannie Babb

“Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).

Becoming Like a Child The Curiosity of Maturity Beyond the Norm by Jerome Berryman

Focusing on a single saying of Jesus, Jerome Berryman’s latest work combines decades of research with a lifetime of practice with lively stories from the Godly Play classroom. It’s the kind of book I want to spend much more time with, before saying anything at all. Yet, I also want to share it with you as soon as possible, because I hope you will read it and share it, and we can discuss it.

Becoming Like a Child (Church Publishing, 2017) is the sort of book I’d like to study in a Sunday class or a seminary class. Although the book is in some ways about Godly Play, it is not exactly a monograph. One need not be familiar with the practice, nor even interested in children’s ministry, to read this book and be led into a deeper understanding of Christianity, of the metaphor from which it takes its name, of human nature, and of oneself. Continue reading

The Mystery of Christmas, the Wonderful Impossible

A Reflection on the Story & an Interview with Jerome Berryman
by Jeannie Babb

The hymn O Come All Ye Faithful is as majestic as it is ubiquitous. For me, it evokes an early childhood memory so visceral that singing the refrain still gives me a shiver.

Wise men or magi adore baby Jesus

“They were late. Every year, they are late! They are adoring the baby.”

I’ve sung this Christmas carol in the plain white-walled space of the Southern Baptist Church in which I was raised, and beneath vaulted ceilings, and in a house church with tambourines. Yet, when I hear those words “O come let us adore him,” I am transported back to the seventies. Continue reading

Because God Imaged Us

The Story of Godly Play at Christ Church in Statford, CT
by Jeannie Babb

“What are you doing for children?”

This is the question the Rev. Scott Lee asks me when he learns I am the Christian Formation Director of Otey Memorial Parish.

“Godly Play,” I reply simply. Before telling him I also work for the Godly Play Foundation, I want to see what he’ll say about the ministry.

Scott Lee tells the Ten Best Ways

The Ten Best Ways shared with the congregation

At the mention of Godly Play, Lee excitedly tells me how it has changed his church. Christ Church in Stratford, Connecticut, had very limited Christian education opportunities when Lee answered the call to serve as Priest-in-Charge. Only two or three children attended on Sundays, with one faithful mother greeting them each week.

After the death of Blanche Kent, the beloved parishioner’s daughter Lauren wanted to give the church a significant memorial. Thinking of Kent’s love for children, Lee suggested launching a Godly Play program.

He says, “Godly Play is the best the church has to offer for formation for young people. I also knew that it provides deep formation for the storytellers.” Continue reading

All Saints and All Souls

This Holy Family is for You

As we celebrate All Saints and All Souls, I find myself reflecting on the community of holy people whose handiwork brought Godly Play to the parishes of which I have belonged. My previous parish is a small, rural Episcopal church who brought Godly Play to their community some twenty or more years ago. If collective memory is correct, a cohort of lay and ordained traveled to be trained by Jerome Berryman himself as they began the enterprise to share the stories in Young Children and Worship with the children of the parish. Creating the Godly Play space was truly a community effort.

I find myself recalling the woman who created and painted the ceramic nativity set that the children still use. Roberta died several years ago, but her presence and faith lives on in the art that she created for the children. “This Holy Family is for you,” says the Godly Play script. Continue reading