In April of 2018 the Godly Play Foundation Board of Directors, staff, and Trainers announced a new pilot program in the United States: Godly Play Missioners. The goal for Missioners was to bring Godly Play to the world and to bring the world to Godly Play. Through gatherings, introductory sessions, stories in “outside the box” locations, and concentrated work with existing programs including reaching out to people who we have trained, everyone was hopeful that the volunteer Missioners would work to change the world through Godly Play. The larger vision was for Missioners to become the bridge for programs needing support before or after attending Core or Advanced Training.
With those goals in mind, the inaugural class of 12 Missioners gathered in Sewanee, Tennessee to pray and learn about the work we had been given to do with lots of excitement and anticipation. The pilot program participants covered the United States from Southeast Florida to Juneau, Alaska and every region in between. Our first gathering acted as a powerful sending forth of Godly Play to the four corners.
Many participants were already acting as Missioners – visiting schools and nursing homes, holding retreats and summer camps, but having them act in an official capacity with guidelines in place helps ensure that the integrity of the Godly Play curriculum unfolds and grows as it was designed.
The outcome of the first year far exceeded any expectations of just how many people were hearing stories! The first cohort of Godly Play Missioners were able to tell stories to roughly 10,673 people in a variety of settings in just one year! See below for a snapshot and breakdown of our Missioners’ impact.
A wonderful example of Godly Play being used in diverse settings is Missioner Melinda Wenner Bradley who traveled to the Baltimore Yearly Meeting, which is the annual gathering of Friends in Maryland. Melinda was asked to do an “all ages plenary” and worked with six other trained storytellers to tell a Faith & Play story, about which she reflects, “They all had materials, and circles, and I told the story. Then we had a group art response. It was a crazy experiment on my part, but it worked and we’re going to do it at Philadelphia Yearly Meeting this summer!”
Joy Studer says her favorite part of being a Missioner is that since the first time she saw the program she knew it could save the church and the world, and that even being a small part of sharing that gift has been such an honor and grown her own relationship with God along the way. Joy continued, “What suprised me while being a Missioner this past year is how many wonderful relationships and connections I’ve made with people along the way.”
Moving forward, The Godly Play Foundation hopes to call and train its next class of Missioners in the Fall of 2019 to continue planting seeds and tending when needed.