Godly Play & Faith & Play
Faith & Play™ Stories, Inc., operates as a 501(c)(3) religious non-profit corporation. Members of the leadership group are all officially the Trustees of the corporation, whose job is to manage all aspects of the organization, including:
- Creating, testing, and publishing Faith & Play stories;
- Training storytellers to use Faith & Play and Godly Play stories;
- Providing directions for making story materials, and making them available in kit form;
- Making publications, trainings, and materials as affordable as possible, so that cost is not a barrier to using Faith & Play stories; and
- Nurturing our various communities of practice.
The work is also supported by a group of trained, experienced storytellers from around the US, who share drafts of stories in their circles of children in Quaker meetings and Friends schools. Their role is to test stories under development and provide feedback, serve as regional liaisons as needed, and act as a sounding board for matters related to Faith & Play Stories.
The Faith & Play Group took shape in 2005, a working group of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and a project of Friends General Conference. We are grateful for the early support of both organizations. Faith & Play Stories incorporated in 2018. The first stories were published in 2008, followed by more in 2010, 2012 and 2017. Late in 2017, the complete collection of 16 stories was revised and published in a second edition. More stories are in the works.
In 2010, two members of our group were trained as accredited Godly Play trainers by a third Friend working for the Godly Play Foundation. Together, they developed “Playing in the Light” which is a core training for Friends using Godly Play and Faith & Play stories. One of those two early trainers continues this work today, and developed a companion training, ”Learning in the Light“, for Friends school educators. Trainings and workshops for Friends have happened in eight countries and sixteen US states.
We believe that Faith & Play stories are a vital tool for sharing who we are as Friends and nurturing the spiritual development of children. Our vision is to continue to share Faith & Play stories with Friends through workshops, trainings and story experiences, to add more stories to the growing collection, and to support our communities of practice. We invite you to join us on this important and Spirit-led journey!
We are storytellers, artists, teachers, historians, editors, and faithful Friends. The collaborative work we do together continues to feel Spirit-led and full of energy.
Margo Inglis Lehman has been part of the Sandy Spring (MD) Monthly Meeting community since childhood. She recently retired from Baltimore Yearly Meeting after nearly 20 years’ service as staff and in various volunteer roles. She attended BYM’s Catoctin Quaker Camp as a camper, as staff, and later as a parent volunteer. This camp experience moved her to search for a way to bring the organic spiritual life that is the Quaker Camp experience into the First Day School (FDS) classroom. After being trained as a Godly Play / Faith & Play storyteller, Margo realized she had found the “campfire” for her classroom! She joined the Faith & Play Leadership Group in 2012 and currently serves as Treasurer of the corporation. Margo is a practicing artist and when she’s not teaching FDS, she can be found happily painting outdoors or in her studio.
Candace Shattuck has been part of Faith & Play since its inception in 2005. She brings to the group not only writing skills (her first love) and managerial experience, but also a deep interest in spirituality, in Quaker history, and theology. Candace has been a member of Third Haven Monthly Meeting in Easton, MD, for over 25 years. She recently moved to Seattle, WA to live near her daughter and family, bringing with her the hope of nurturing growth of Faith & Play in the Pacific Northwest. She currently serves as Clerk of Faith & Play Stories.
David Wakeley, a member of Centre Monthly Meeting in Centreville, DE, joined the Faith & Play Group in 2011. He is a trained and practicing Godly Play and Faith & Play storyteller, and for many years has used both to teach First Day School. David was first drawn to the simple aesthetic beauty of Godly Play stories and became inspired to create materials for Faith and Play. His creative background helps guide the group through artistic and story design problem solving. Recently, David began training as an interfaith chaplain following a leading to attend to the spiritual needs of children in crisis. As part of his training, David is exploring how stories can be used to create a sacred space for children to make meaning of and to give voice to the existential questions they face while in distress.
Sallie Welte is a retired wildlife veterinarian with a specialty in oil spill response and the rehabilitation of native wild birds, and a background in environmental education. She has been involved with Faith & Play since 2009, both as a member of the leadership group and as a First Day School teacher at Goshen Meeting in West Chester, PA. Also trained as a Montessori teacher, she brings both organizational skills and a love for materials to our work. “I am renewed by the work we do together, in the patient nurturing of a leading to its full expression in story.” Her skills as Recording Secretary have been critical to our work.
Melinda Wenner Bradley, a member of West Chester (PA) Meeting, served as clerk of the Faith & Play Group from its founding in 2005 to 2018. Melinda is an accredited Godly Play Trainer since 2010, and leads Playing in the Light and Learning in the Light trainings in the US. Her journey in service to this work has taken her to Peru, England, and Kenya to share Faith & Play. Melinda serves as Director of Communications and Training for Faith & Play Stories, Inc. She is also Philadelphia Yearly Meeting’s Director of Programs, and a co-founder of the Quaker Religious Education Collaborative. What she most enjoys is being in a circle on the floor with children, wondering together.
The Relationship Between Godly Play® and Faith & Play
Godly Play is a collection of stories and a particular method for sharing those stories developed by Episcopal priest Jerome Berryman as a way to bring Bible stories and Christian faith formation to children. The Montessori-influenced method includes both a written script and visual materials to help tell the story. All stories conclude with open-ended questions that invite wonder and reflection. Participants are invited into a time for individual response to the story after the communal response of wondering together. This is what we mean by “Godly Play method.”
Over time, the Godly Play collection grew to eight volumes of stories, divided into three different genres: sacred stories (Old Testament), parables of Jesus (New Testament), and liturgical action lessons of the Episcopal tradition. Other Christian denominations — including Friends — began to use the Godly Play sacred stories and parables. Friends found this storytelling method particularly Quaker-friendly in that it left room for individual experience and continuing revelation in exploring the Bible stories with children.
In 2005, a group of Quakers attended a Godly Play training and were so enthusiastic about the possibilities of telling Quaker stories using this method that, with the blessing of the Godly Play Foundation, they began drafting the stories that became Faith & Play.
Faith & Play stories are written in the manner of Godly Play, and are meant to be a companion for Friends using Godly Play. Quakers do not use the liturgical action lessons in the Godly Play collection. Faith & Play stories are the voice of our faith, practice, and witness.
Both Godly Play and Faith & Play stories are best shared by storytellers who have learned about the methodology, the theology of childhood, and classroom management strategies from a Quaker trainer. Since 2010, training to use Faith & Play and Godly Play stories has been offered to Friends by Quaker trainers. This opens for Friends a library of experiential stories available for religious education programs.
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Children work with a Godly Play story in the desert box.