UPDATE: The training has been postponed to September 30-October 1 and October 28-29.
Those interested in becoming Godly Play storytellers have an opportunity this fall at Sackville United Church in Sackville, N.B. and at First Baptist in Halifax. Both events will run concurrently.
Each weekend begins with the Friday evening session from 4-9 p.m. The Saturday component runs from 8:30-5:30. Attendance is required at both weekends to qualify for certification.
Archdeacon Cathy Laskey is one of the trainers of the event. She is the only Anglican Goldy Play Canada certified trainer in the Maritimes and a long-time advocate of the program.
“The first time I saw a Godly Play story, I immediately said, ‘This is good stuff. This is how I believe faith formation can happen well.’
“It’s not preaching. It’s not even teaching in the usual sense. It’s the telling of a story that encourages and enables an encounter with the Trinity.”
Godly Play is unique. Its brochure describes it as “a creative and imaginative approach to faith formation and spiritual development that uses symbols, objects, silence and words to explore biblical stories and Christian practices” using the Montessori tradition.
Although Godly Play was first developed for children, it has great value for all ages, as it prompts the person to imagine, draw, create, discuss and otherwise immerse themselves in the mystery and beauty of God and creation. It’s even being used in nursing homes.
The phase “I wonder” is heard frequently in a Godly Play setting.
“One premise of Godly Play is that children have an innate sense of God, but haven’t developed the language to express this,” said Cathy. “All of us, child or adult, have an innate sense of God, and Godly Play enables one, no matter what age, to engage and encounter our Lord.”
Cathy continues to encourage others to try the program because she’s found such meaning in it.
“What attracts me is the economy of words, the materials used to tell the story and the freedom to wonder,” she said. “When I looked back to the original stories, I discovered something new. It brought the story alive in a new way.”
While Cathy was a parish priest in Shediac, she was able to weave elements of Godly Play into the service, once a month, allowing all parishioners to experience Godly Play.
A Godly Play session begins with a welcome, a gathering into a circle, a prayer or liturgy and then a story, perhaps an Old Testament recounting or a parable. Then various questions are posed: I wonder which part of this story was the most important? I wonder where you are in this story?
“The wondering is deep,” said Cathy. “It opens the discussion.”
After the questions, the participants’ work begins. They can use the story telling materials, create a drawing or other craft, or play. Then a small feast is served, perhaps a cracker, cheese and water. Grace is said and everyone eats together. Clean-up commences and participants are dismissed. It very much mirrors a Sunday morning Eucharist service, said Cathy.
These upcoming training sessions, once completed, qualify participants as certified Godly Play storytellers. Cathy is hoping for renewed interest in Godly Play as so much has been learned during the pandemic.
Archbishop David Edwards says, “Godly Play has been an essential part of the ministry in many parishes. It speaks to both children and adults.”
“I’m hoping more people of all ages can experience Godly Play and deepen their faith,” said Cathy. “For me, it’s a faith formation opportunity.”
There have been Godly Play storytellers in the following parishes: the Nerepis & St. John, Christ Church Cathedral, Woodstock, Shediac, Salisbury & Havelock, Westmorland, Cambridge & Waterborough, New Maryland, Hammond River and Hampton.
To sign up for the Godly Play training sessions, click here.
To view a video of Godly Play, click here.
The Stories of God at Home - An Introduction shares how Godly Play has developed to be a means of supporting faith formation at home in a society where often families are not in church together.
Experience Holy Week in a different way: Cathy encourages us to try out an online version of a Godly Play-like story as we journey through each of the remainder of the days of Holy Week to Easter Sunday. Engage in one of the Faces of Easter videos (between 3 to 5 minutes) a day to get a sense of the language of Godly Play and how it connects with day-to-day life. Take a quiet moment to wonder where you are in the story. Wonder individually, as a family or with friends about the mystery of Easter.
1. Archdeacon Cathy Laskey, seated on floor at centre right, prepares to begin a Godly Play session during a YIG (Youth & Intergenerational) sponsored event at Christ Church (Parish) Church in 2015.
2. A typical Godly Play setting.