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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.