Author Archives: Anna Thomas

Passing of Coleen Berryman

With heavy hearts we write to let all of you know of the passing of Coleen Berryman this week. 

As most of you know Coleen was born with the birth defects of spina bifida and hydrocephalus, and yet lived a vibrant life all of her 53 years. In “Stories of God at Home: A Godly Play Approach,” Jerome shares some of her story. He wrote: “She ‘walked,’ swinging along with her brace and crutches from her toddler days until July of 2014 when she had rotator cuff surgery and needed to shift to a power chair. As a teenager she finished high school and then went to art school. She was a painter.” Jerome and Thea were devoted to her (and her sister Alyda). In the years since Thea’s death, Jerome has been her caregiver and fierce advocate, spending most of his waking hours making sure she had the care she needed. At the same time, she looked after him in more ways than we can ever know. We will all miss her and most of all miss them together.

We know many will want to share messages of love in the next few weeks. We ask that you forward them to Cheryl Minor at  to save Jerome’s email box getting too full. She will print them out and create a book for him to enjoy when he has the time to do that.  

O God, who by the glorious resurrection of your Son Jesus Christ destroyed death, and brought life and immortality to light: Grant that your servant Coleen, being raised with him, may know the strength of his presence, and rejoice in his eternal glory; who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, forever and ever. Amen.  (BCP, p. 493)

Official Statement from the Godly Play Foundation’s Board of Directors


In response to the many inquiries we have received given the widespread closures and cancellations resulting from COVID-19, The Godly Play Foundation and its publisher, Church Publishing Incorporated, have agreed that churches may minister to their children and families remotely by creating and sharing videos of Godly Play Storytellers telling stories using Godly Play’s materials.  We encourage this activity as a way to let children see a familiar face, allowing them to engage more deeply.  Godly Play and Church Publishing Incorporated reserve all rights in the intellectual property contained in the Godly Play materials. 

We ask that anyone creating or sharing a video abide by the following:

 1.       At the beginning of the video recording, please state the name of the story and the publisher in the video and note that the material is under copyright and owned by Godly Play.

 2.       Limit the audience in some way.  For example, if you use YouTube, please follow these instructions to designate your video as “Unlisted” and only share the link with a limited audience.  If you use Facebook Live, please only share within a private group or church page.

 3.       Please remove each video after a three-week period.

With hope and expectation,

The Godly Play Foundation Board of Directors

Making Meaning in Exile

When we look back and tell the story of COVID-19, I wonder what your favorite part might be. I wonder what will be most important of this unfolding story. I wonder what parts we will all want to leave out. Today, it feels like the over-anxious response we sometimes hear in our circles, “ALL OF IT!” might be the answer. 
It is our hope that we will look back and recall acts of courage and kindness that, like Rebekah’s offer of water, move us deeply. And, it is our hope that the compelling need to find new ways to share stories and be in community during this time might help us learn more about how best to bring Godly Play into the digital age. 
At the same time, we are already particularly equipped to nurture and equip others with the tools they need to make meaning during this challenging time. Stories of God at Home and the accompanying materials provide a way for families to come together to tell stories– the stories of God and the stories of their own families– and practice make meaning together as the story of their family and its values interact and intersect with the story of God’s redeeming love.
We have received a generous gift to allow us to share these resources at a significantly reduced cost and we hope that you will consider using and sharing Stories of God at Home with the people you know in the next few weeks.Making Meaning in Exile Bundle ($15) Includes a hard copy of Stories of God at Home and two sets of materials: Easter and The Good Shepherd, with a cardboard box, colored prints, and felt underlays.All other Stories of God at Home materials are reduced by 30% for the next two weeks.Free Digital Black and White Download of the Faces of Easter Images.Free Digital Black and White Download of the Good Shepherd Images.Stories of God at Home for KindleAll Godly Play Foundation in person trainings and events have been postponed or cancelled until further notice. We are already seeing many of you planning ways to meet and tell stories virtually, and we look forward to continued virtual engagement as social distancing becomes our new normal for the immediate future. If you are on Facebook, please join our newly created Facebook Group: Knowing Godly Play in a New Way. 

We are holding you all in prayer and hope to connect with each of you in a new way very soon. 
With hope and expectation,
The Godly Play Foundation Board of Directors

Knowing Godly Play in a New Way

Godly Play Forum focused on connecting Godly Players and expanding our digital understanding and capabilities as we respond to the rapidly changing needs of our communities in the midst of COVID-19.

Knowing Godly Play in a New Way
Private group · 177 members
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Retirement Announcement

With infinite gratitude we want to acknowledge the many gifts of Godly Play Trainer and mentor Barbara Sears as she moves into her retirement. Barbara began her work with Godly Play and Jerome Berryman in Houston in 1992, and officially became a trainer in 2000 working with Christ Church in Covington, Louisiana, and Christ Episcopal School.

Jerome Berryman and Barbara Sears in Sewanee, 2015

Many recall her introduction of the “Psychic Sniff” into trainings, gathering everyone outside to wake up the body and cleanse the mind to be able to go back to the circle with renewed energy and focus – Barbara seemed to know how to incorporate play in just the right way at just the right time.

Godly Play Missioner, Ashley Bond, had this to say of Barbara, “So much of my excitement for and deep connection to the practice of Godly Play is due in part to the way in which Barbara modeled for me so beautifully the art of Godly Play. She drew me in the way all good teachers do. To this day, she is the one I go to for guidance, support, clarity, wisdom and encouragement in my work as a Godly Play mentor. Godly Play is a gift and sharing it with others the way Barbara shared it with me is life-giving.”

Barbara’s friend and colleague, Gayle Croxton, reflected, “Barbara has generously shared her love of Godly Play and her deep and abiding respect for children in so many ways and for so many years. It has been a real pleasure and a privilege to learn from her and to work by her side. She teaches me something, without perhaps intending to do so, each time we work together. I am often struck by her ability to be both strong and soft, especially when leading a training, but also with children. She does not shy away from challenges and difficult issues and somehow manages to address them both directly and gently. She is also someone who never stops wondering, reflecting and learning which keeps her spirit and her practice fresh. What a joy it is to call her friend and mentor!  I feel very sad to consider sitting in a training circle without her. We will miss her greatly!”

Barbara and her husband of more than 40 years, Steve, plan to spend more time with their children and grandchildren of which Barbara said, “The grandchildren will be my circle for storytelling for the coming years, and what a joy that will bring.”

Barbara and Sharon Greeley at the 2000 Training of Trainers

Like a pebble tossed into a pond, one can only wonder about just how many lives Barbara has touched in more than 30 years of work as a mentor but we can picture the ripples of circles expanding even past her retirement.

Vacation Bible School!

Remember the day of your baptism.

Vacation Bible School news! Every year many congregations offer a Vacation Bible School during the summer months or during other school vacation times. The length and time (day, evening) vary from place to place, but most purchase a Vacation Bible School kit from a publisher that includes lessons, posters for advertising, music, and more. We are excited to share with our Godly Play community some ideas for using Godly Play during VBS instead of one of these kits. We had a post on our Facebook page asking for people who have used Godly Play as part of VBS we got lots of good ideas. We now have a tab on the Godly Play Resources website filled with ideas to get your creative juices flowing. We would love to add more ideas, so keep them coming! Here are just a few of the ideas that were mentioned…