Stepping into St. Mary’s children’s chapel one sees a notable simplicity, a child-friendly environment with obvious structure, and familiar liturgical colors. Materials are presented at the children’s eye level including the beautiful lectern and altar for role playing. Shelving is at a child’s height, the materials are low, and the adult storyteller sits on the floor. The environment is intentionally simplistic to encourage children to leave behind the secular business of life and enter into a quiet space that offers children openness and opportunity through ritual and story to give language to the sacred through timeless and inclusive Montessori-based manipulatives.
During the schoolyear, St. Mary’s offers a Godly Play service in Room 1 for all children age 4 and older during the 10 am Sunday service. Each week, a trained door person greets each child by name and asks, “Are you ready to enter the sacred circle?” Children decide - yes, no, or maybe - and when they are ready, enter the chapel. The service begins with the lighting of the Christ candle and ringing of a gong to center our sacred time together.
Some weeks are story weeks and others are work weeks. On story weeks, the storyteller shares a sacred story with the children and afterward, invites the children to wonder either out loud or silently about how the story intersects with the children’s own experience. On work weeks, the children explore the stories throughout the room themselves. They may choose to retell stories, role play in the Godly Play chapel, or craft/journal about their perspectives. Most weeks conclude with a feast, which is a celebration of communion with water and a cracker and putting out the candle.
Godly Play intentionally views children as individuals who bring a unique awareness and experience to the sacred circle that is inherently separate from parents and siblings. Parents are always welcome in the chapel in the parent circle with this intention in mind. We currently have four trained storytellers with 3-5 years experience in Godly Play and about 10 door person volunteers who rotate throughout the year to participate in this beautiful ministry.
Godly Play Resources: