There are 20 new Godly Players in the Moscow region! Nineteen women and one man from four different churches attended the first-ever Core Training in the heart of Moscow. It was a privilege for me to meet and spend three very full days with such lovely people who truly carry children in their hearts and take seriously the idea of accompanying them on their journey with God!
Ironically, the training took place in an old German church, the Lutheran Cathedral of Peter and Paul. It was amusing to me to find this very German architecture just minutes away from Red Square!
Normally, we only have 12 participants at a Core Training, so it was challenging to have such a large group. I was assisted in the training by two experienced storytellers, Asmic from Moscow and Alesya from Minsk. These two amazing women were invaluable, and the training could not have taken place without them!
On the first day, everyone came ready with notebooks and pencils expecting more of a lecture format. They were pleasantly surprised to find that the training was interactive, experiential and encouraging of critical thinking skills, and with elements of a spiritual retreat.
As you can imagine, we wondered as a group about a great many things. In the picture below, we spent time thinking about what we, as the church, and God might want to say to the children through the sacred space/room that we create for them.
Another particularly intense and moving Wondering involved the principles of Montessori that are inherent in Godly Play as well. Asmic introduced the principles on notecards, placing them on the floor in the middle of the circle. Each participant was asked to stand by the principle that she/he was most drawn to. As each person shared the things that attracted them, the rich love and devotion to serving children became a tangible element in the room. A truly holy moment.
Here Alesya shares "The Faces of Easter" with the group.
Each participant had the chance to be a storyteller and a door person. They worked hard during the practice sessions, asked great questions, and were very teachable. They were open to learning the stories in their original format, even though their traditions usually differed from the Episcopalian background out of which Godly Play originally emerged.
Telling stories for their peers involves a lot of excitement and nerves!
Lyuda shares the Parable of the Mustard Seed . . .
and Sergei shares "The Good Shepherd and the Worldwide Communion".
The participants gave us feedback at the end of the course that they had rarely encountered the level of love, support, and respect that they had experienced in this group over the last three days.
A moment of joy - receiving a storyteller certificate and a few gifts at the end!
Asmic had a friend bake People of God gingerbread for each person!
Before we said good-bye and blessed one another, we asked each person to spend some time thinking about and write out what they felt the next steps with Godly Play were to be. Some people shared very concrete steps, such as making the materials for the Advent story and sharing it with their children. Other shared long-term dreams. One young woman even said that she wanted to become a Godly Play trainer! I'm praying that will happen.
The seeds of an ecumenical Godly Play group have been planted. Like the Mustard Seed, we trust God that he will water it and cause it to grow, and that the children of Moscow will be blessed through it.