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
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.
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.
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!
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)
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.