Since the fall of 2007, St. Thomas has offered an innovative, Montessori based learning method for children’s Christian formation called “Godly Play.” This is a participatory process of spiritual formation for children designed to mirror an Episcopal worship service, but with full “hands on” participation by both the children and the adult facilitators. The children are encouraged to take an active role in interpreting the significance of the stories they learn and the interactions they have with one another.
We always welcome new children to join us – whether their participation can be on a weekly or occasional basis. For more information, please speak with our rector, Nancy Lee Jose, who introduced St. Thomas’ Parish to this highly effective approach to learning that regularly evokes from the children themselves the vocal urging of their parents to come to church more often because they otherwise miss Godly Play! All Godly Play teachers attend a “Safeguarding God’s Children” program sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Washington within six months of beginning work with our parish’s young people.
Godly Play Class Overview
Classes begin at 10:45 a.m. Before class, the children are greeted enthusiastically by the Doorkeeper outside the Godly Play room. The Doorkeeper spends the time right before class helping the children prepare themselves to enter this sacred space and to hear the lesson. Once inside, the children are presented with a hands-on lesson, told by the Storyteller, usually related to the church calendar or coinciding with the scriptural readings appointed for that Sunday. Knowing that different children have different learning styles, Godly Play incorporates tactile, auditory, and even taste and smell experiences in presenting the Lesson.
- Lessons include The Flood and the Ark, The Parable of the Mustard Seed, and Jonah, the Backward Prophet.
- They also include “liturgical action lessons” during which children learn about the church’s ceremonies, including Holy Baptism and Holy Eucharist.
The Doorkeeper is also present throughout the Godly Play class to assist the Storyteller. After the lesson, a storyteller poses a series of “wondering questions” to the children. These questions allow the children to explore their own interpretations of the lesson and to share them with others. The Storyteller listens respectfully to each child’s response without suggesting that any particular answer is right or wrong. The children may also pose their own wondering questions to the group. Following the wondering questions, the children are given time to respond to the lesson using a medium of their choice. Children are given the opportunity to choose whether to use various art materials, continue to work with the storytelling materials, or to engage in some other way to express their thoughts and feelings about that day’s lesson or previous lessons. The response is not teacher-directed, but self-directed. Following the response time, the children are prepared to join the entire St. Thomas community upstairs for the feast of Holy Eucharist. Once the children have joined the congregation in the sanctuary, they participate in the service from a seating area reserved for ministries with children or with their families. Children also volunteer to participate at the altar during the Eucharistic prayer.