Godly Play® News

Godly Play Foundation Board Anti-Racism Statement

Like many organizations committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, the Godly Play Foundation Board realized in the summer of 2020 that we needed to become more intentional and active in the work of anti-racism. We are therefore excited to announce that our anti-racism task force will begin its work this December and to share with you the Board statement committing the Foundation to this on-going work of building ever more diverse circles.

Godly Play Foundation Board Anti-Racism Statement

Our mission at the Godly Play Foundation is to understand, promote, and nurture children’s spirituality so that children have the tools they need to make meaning about life and death in a way that will foster growth throughout their lives. In the story of the Great Family (Genesis 12, 15, 17-18, 21, 24) told in Godly Play circles around the world, we hear that God came so close to Abraham and Abraham came so close to God that he knew what God wanted him to do. He made of Abraham a Great Family, “and we are all part of this Great Family, as many as the grains of sand in the desert, and the stars in the sky.” The crises in our country right now reveal the degree to which racism and its legacy of unjust systems and institutions have made many feel as if they are not a part of this family. These crises compel those of us in Godly Play circles to, like Abraham, seek ways to come close to God, so that we have both the courage and the strength to work to make this vision a reality, not just for some but for all.

In response, we, the Board of the Godly Play Foundation, turn and commit ourselves and the Foundation to move beyond guilt and good intentions into action grounded in the Gospel. For us, this means ensuring that Godly Play includes all children as it equips them and the adults who partner with them to imagine and create a more just future.

There will always be more to see and do. So, we will continuously evaluate and address what God is calling us to leave out of our work – or to add – so that we have all that we need for our stories, our materials, our training, and our leadership structures.

We long for the day when the dream of the ancient Hebrew prophet Amos (5:24) and the modern prophet the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. comes true and “justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream;” and we commit ourselves to work toward the realization of this dream for all children.

Announcing our New Executive Director!

On behalf of the Board of Directors, I am pleased to announce that Heather Ingersoll, Ph.D. has been called to serve as the next Executive Director of the Godly Play Foundation. Heather brings a broad range of leadership experience in academia, the non-profit world, and the church to this work. We are most excited, though, by Heather’s relentless passion for and commitment to honoring and nurturing children and their spirituality. Heather is currently serving as the Director of Christian Education at First United Methodist Church, Salem, Oregon and as an adjunct professor at California Baptist University and will officially join the Foundation staff on September 15.

~Mary Hunter Maxwell

“When I first experienced Godly Play nearly two decades ago, I was immediately captivated by the approach and have come to know it as one of the most powerful frameworks for inviting children—and all ages—into God’s mystery in profound ways. In this season of unrest and uncertainty, now more than ever, we need creative and reflective spaces where the spiritual lives and existential questions of children are valued and elevated. I am thrilled to join the Godly Play Foundation and eager to work alongside the community as we continue and expand this transformative mission.” – Dr. Heather Ingersoll

Welcome, Heather!

The Falling Apart – A Reflection Chaplain Courtney Webb

As I walk the halls of the hospital during the day and the streets of the neighborhood where I live at night, I find myself repeatedly reciting and finding comfort in these Godly Play words: “They could only go forward and they did.”

A year ago this week, I completed a chaplain residency program at Children’s Medical Center in Dallas, my husband completed his graduate program, and we moved to Houston seeking new jobs, a new home, and new community. It has been a full year of transition, of learning, of struggle, and of finding new ways to trust God in the midst of it all.

The guiding words I share above come from the Godly Play story “Second Creation: The Falling Apart.” Even the story title seems fitting, as it often feels like many things as we used to know them are “falling apart.” We find ourselves in an in-between place, a liminal space, a global pandemic space, where we don’t know what the journey ahead holds; and yet, we know that our daily lives are experiencing so many differences. We know that we cannot go back to when it was all together (AKA pre-Covid).

Jerome’s language at the end of this Godly Play story continue to guide my feet and my heart as I imagine God journeying with me as we each learn how to create a new future out of all of these differences. Spoiler alert – here’s my favorite part from the end of the story:

“The differences also did something wonderful. Now Adam and Eve could take things apart and put them back together again. They could be creators, almost like God. They couldn’t make something out of nothing, but they could make something out of the differences.

After the differences, Adam and Eve could not go back to when everything was all together in the Garden. They could only go forward and they did.

God sent Adam and Eve out of the Garden. An angel and a sword was put at the edge of the Garden so they could not go back, but only go forward. God went with them on their journey to help them be the best creators they could be, and to be with God in this new way, and to stay one with God.” (Jerome Berryman, Godly Play, Volume 6, 30).

My prayer is that these words are as empowering for you as they are for me. We are daily absorbing and moving through an incredible amount of differences. And yet, I wonder what it looks like to lean into the freedom of co-creating something new with God? When I find myself waiting and wishing to go back to a previous time in life, a previous job, a pre-Covid time, it is easy to sink into a place of despair.

I wonder what might happen if we stop waiting for normal to come back again? I wonder what could happen if we lean into the truth that God goes with us and that we can “only go forward.” I wonder what might happen if we stay curious about how we can take things apart and put them back together again in new ways? I wonder how a present moment and forward-facing mindset can renew hope for the future and help us to continue to make-meaning?

Creator God, inspire us with the knowledge deep within our beings that you journey with us and that you are doing something wonderful with all these differences. Amen.

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Courtney Webb currently serves as a Staff Chaplain in the Texas Medical Center in Houston, TX and is a member of the Godly Play community at Christ the King Lutheran Church in Houston. She completed her seminary studies at Perkins School of Theology and Wartburg Theological Seminary, and is an ordained deacon in the ELCA. As a chaplain resident at Children’s Medical Center Dallas, she learned and practiced Godly Play in the clinical setting and continues to dream of ways to share Godly Play with people of all ages in clinical and congregational settings. Courtney enjoys reading, collecting all of the indoor plants, and exploring Houston’s great outdoors with her husband and their adopted fur-babies.

Silence – a New Offering from Jerome Berryman

Godly Play founder Jerome Berryman has a timely new illustrated children’s book out reflecting on silence. From the publisher, “This illustrated book for children captures the mindfulness, measured pace, and pauses that children experience in the Godly Play circle, or can be a supplement to any child’s bookshelf.”

Silence is important for children; it is the stillness—both internal and external—that children need in today’s frenzied world. Be sure to order your copy of Silence today!

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