Godly Play Conference, Grant Opportunity

Godly Play Conference, Grant Opportunity

by Anne Clarke, Lifelong Christian Faith Formation Coordinator, The Episcopal Diocese of Northern California

Some of us have used the language of Godly Play to tell the story of the Risen Christ during this Easter Season, a story which calls us to join disciples as they learn to “Know Jesus in a New Way.” My favorite moment of that story is when we’re invited into Thomas and the disciples’ doubt and wonder: "And why wouldn’t he have some doubt? Their minds were stretching, stretching to be big enough to know Jesus in this new way."

Children often invite us to know Jesus in a new way, and to remember that we are all disciples on a journey of questioning and wonder, just like Thomas and all the others who have come before us. If we’re doing this Christian discipleship thing well, I think we are always looking for new ways to recognize Jesus in our midst, and new ways to tell the story to our children (and to ourselves). And we are probably better off if we start out by being honest with ourselves, and with our children, that it takes some serious work and preparation and learning and conversations with each other to be disciples. If we’re really in the business of forming and being disciples together in community, then we’re all going to need to bring our A-game, old and young alike.

Godly Play Conference and Grant Opportunity
We have an incredible opportunity this August to better equip ourselves for deep, sustainable ministry with young people, regardless of what that looks like in your congregation at this moment. This isn’t just a chance to build up a nice-looking Sunday School program. Asking God to help your community grow in its ministry with children will transform everyone involved- you’ve been warned! (In the words of another children’s story: “Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.”)

From August 11-13, 2016 the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa will host a Godly Play Training and Children’s Ministry Conference. There are scholarships and grants available to support congregations who want to bolster their Godly Play program, begin a Godly Play program, or who want to explore or begin other forms of children’s ministry (regardless of the size and make-up of your congregation). If you’re ready to register for the Godly Play training only, click here. If you’d like to apply for a scholarship for the training, or a grant to begin a new children’s ministry, or discuss another possibility, please indicate your interest using this short form, or please contact me at anne@norcalepiscopal.org or call 916-442-6918 ext. 215.

Daphne Vernon, the Director of Spiritual Formation at the Church of the Incarnation in Santa Rosa, explains what Godly Play has meant in her ministry, and why she is hopeful that some of you will join her in this event: “Starting a Godly Play program in your parish can be a very unifying experience for everyone involved. Everyone can be involved in the faith formation of our children from helping to make or pay for stories, setting up the class room, being a doorkeeper/greeter or being a story teller. All of these contributions make a difference in our children’s lives as well as deepening our own faith formation. Participating in the three-day training is a great opportunity to deepen your knowledge and confidence in providing a Godly play program in your own parish. It’s a great opportunity to get to meet Godly Play teachers from other churches as well that can become a support network in your future Godly Play endeavors.”

There are many wonderful Christian formation programs for children, and I believe that it is important for each congregation to discern what kind of Christian formation would work best for them (and I am here to help you do that work!). However, a substantive program like Godly Play has some important attributes, even if it seems difficult initially. Sometimes the need for training and preparation is seen as a negative thing when congregations are choosing a form of children’s ministry, but in my experience, a program that draws people more deeply into a life of faith and spiritual practices is actually more life-giving and sustainable than something that seems easier to begin.

The Rev. Sarah Quinney, Assistant Rector at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Roseville, also points out the transformative possibilities of beginning a new way of children’s ministry in a congregation. “We began transitioning to Godly Play this fall at St. John’s,” she says. “We prayed for a while and discerned that it was a new thing God was calling us to do with our children, and with our adult volunteers. Truly God has been steering this ship. Along the way, we have been equipped with everything we need, and most importantly our hearts and minds have been open to the process. We have been and are being transformed by Godly Play. The trust that transitioning to such a program requires has strengthened our faith. Whether or not they are aware, Godly Play is not only impacting our children, but it is making a lasting impact on the whole congregation, and, eventually, on the community where we live.”

I hope that this conference will provide a chance for all of us to see that we are in this work together, and that we have the resources to support each other in the challenging, life-giving work of discipleship and formation. Please be in touch with your interest and questions about this event, and about children’s ministry. I look forward to the conversation, and to seeing you in August!

Click here to learn more about the Godly Play Children's Ministry Conference.


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