Godly Play® News

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…

2019 Matching Gifts Campaign

It’s on!

We have $10,000 in matching funds! Our year-end Matching Gift Campaign in ON! Now we need our circle’s support to raise another $10,000 to secure the matching gift!

Please help us meet our goal!!!

We have until December 31st, and every donation helps us on our journey! Together we met last year’s matching gift goal–let’s do it again!!

Please join us in nurturing children’s spirituality and building the Kingdom of God through the Godly Play Method!



The short answer is that your gift to the Godly Play Foundation goes directly to the work of bringing quality Godly Play to children of all ages throughout the world—directly to our vision of enlarging our circle to include every child of God. See a sampling below of how we have stewarded last year’s gifts. I wonder where this year’s gifts will go?


We do it together!

Over the last couple of years we have been:

Increasing our scholarships for training and materials to support churches who have the time and talent but are lacking the treasure to launch or expand their Godly Play program

Adding new story videos to our YouTube page

Revising and expanding the Old Testament Extension stories published in The Complete Guide to Godly Play, Volume 6—similar to the work completed on Volumes 2, 3, and 4—so these stories can be shared more easily throughout the world

Continuing to bring together pediatric hospital chaplains who are Godly Players for hospital specific trainings, including training two new Trainers in Clinical Godly Play this past summer in Dallas to be able to better serve this important audience

Ensuring continued support for families making Stories of God at Home a family tradition – including videos for how to incorporate your family’s important stories

Developing trainings specifically for clergy to ensure church leaders know what they need to do to support their programs

Enlarging our US Missioner program to ensure trained, local support is available nationally and calling a new class of Missioners in 2020

Funding the movement of people and materials to bring Godly Play to new circles across oceans– including the first training in Russia and the rapidly growing interest in South America and the various ways it is being implemented with profound effects

Populating additional social media platforms, such as Godly Play with Seniors and Pinterest

Collectively throughout the world, we have been working toward these goals and have many accomplishments. We also have many exciting projects in line for 2020, including the U.S. Training of Trainers to be held in Ft. Worth in the spring!

Please join us in building the Kingdom of God through the Godly Play Method!

Are You Called to be a Trainer?

Godly Play Trainers Gathering in Chicago

The Godly Play Foundation is pleased to announce we will be adding 12 additional Trainers to our U.S. circle. We will be hosting a Training of Trainers program beginning March of 2020. The application period is now closed.

Are you called to be a Godly Play Trainer? Is children’s spirituality your ministry? Do you love Godly Play? Do you love teaching adults? 

Applicants will be selected for interviews based on experience, engagement, recommendations and geographical location. An invitation to attend the Training of Trainers does not guarantee certification as a Godly Play Trainer. The path to becoming a Godly Play Trainer includes attendance at Training of Trainers sessions (face-to-face in Ft Worth Texas March 18 to 20, 2020 and Zoom meetings), and at least 2 mentored Core Trainings. Certification will follow the mentored Core Trainings and be based on the candidate’s skill in leading adults as well as their understanding of Godly Play and children’s spirituality.

We will keep our larger circle informed of any future Training of Trainer opportunities.

Godly Play Missioner Program, One Year In

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.

Left Back Row: The Rev. Ebony Grisom, Sabrina Evans, The Rev. Regan Schutz, Charissa Simmons, Melinda Wenner Bradley, Cynthia Insko, Jana Sandlin Middle Row Left: Mary Hunter Maxwell, Joy Studer, Lee Dickson, Teresa Phares, Kat Mercer Front: Anna Thomas, Alison Talley, Ashley Bond

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.

Missioner Ashely Bond tells Godly Play BIG at Trinity Church in New Orleans for their opening celebration. I wonder which day is your favorite?

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.

The numbers in white reflect the number of people who heard Godly Play stories. The numbers in red show the various ways that happened, as well as the impact.
Plenary at the Baltimore Yearly Meeting.

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 telling Creation in the snow

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 Winter of 2020 to continue planting seeds and tending when needed.