Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Exploring Play

At the Godly Play European Trainers' Conference, some of the UK trainers let me know about a free on-line course from the University of Sheffield called "Exploring Play: The Role of Play in Everyday Life". 

In Godly Play circles, we spend a lot of time talking about exactly what play is and why it is important. There are philosophers, most notably Johann Huizinga of the Netherlands, who have argued that the ability to play is what sets human beings apart from all other forms of life. Indeed, we begin to play as infants and continue to do so in one form or another for the rest of our lives. And "play" looks different for each person.

One of my first assignments in the class was to define "play". I wrote that play is something that we do voluntarily and enjoy. We'll see if the professors there and my virtual "classmates" agree. 

Although the course started yesterday, I was still able to sign up today. So if any of you are interested in joining in as well, click here to do so.

How would you define "play"?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Godly Play European Trainers' Conference

After a rather long blogging hiatus . . .  I'm back! We spent part of our summer holidays in the U.S. visiting family and friends, attended a conference in the Czech Republic, and then started back to work.  I have taken on a new position as the children's minister for a larger church in the area, that our church plant partners with, in order to help them slowly implement Godly Play. (More on that project later!) All of these things have been a great adventure, but haven't left much time for blogging.: )

I have also just returned from the Godly Play European Trainers' Conference in Ely, England. What an inspiring time it was! Trainers from all over Europe (and one Australian!) came together to exchange ideas and discuss the progress and future of Godly Play on our continent.

European trainers wondering together about how to support Godly Play mentors
on their journey beyond Core Training that our countries offer. 

The theme of our time together was "The Spiritual Guidance of Children". Over the years, Jerome Berryman has gradually shifted the language of Godly Play from a type of religious education to the spiritual mentoring of children. While the idea of spiritual guidance has always been intuitively present, the new language, especially in Volume 8, brings this idea to the forefront.

One of our workshops focused on the newer Volume 8body of stories. Here are three different versions of the materials from "Knowing Jesus in a New Way" by Godly Play Resources, Godly Play Finland, and Peter Privett of GP UK.
Our speaker was a Jesuit nun named Gemma Simmonds who you can read about here and here. (If you ever have the chance to hear her, I'd highly recommend it! And you might recognize her voice if you watch the BBC.) Although Gemma doesn't explicitly work with children, she spoke to us about how to give spiritual guidance and reminded us that we as mentors need spiritual guidance as well. 

The conference took place in the small village of Ely, which has a massive gothic cathedral right in the middle of it! We spent a lot of time exploring this beautiful place of worship.

The Ely Cathedral

This is a piece of modern art entitled "Way to the Cross". As one nears the cross, the path becomes lighter. The distance is also exactly the same as one would walk inside the prayer labyrinth below. 
This is one of the few medieval prayer labyrinths left in Europe. It was
a beautiful experience to pray with it in the mornings.
Heidi, one of my colleagues from Germany, and I on top of the cathedral's Octagon Tower.
A view from on top of the Octagon Tower. 
What would a trip to England be without a spot of tea?
With Rachel, another of our trainers in Germany.
I'm so thankful to have been with such inspiring people who are passionate about children in such a beautiful place!