Introduction to Philadelphia Yearly Meeting's Faith & Play Working Group
In May of 2005, an exciting thing happened that changed how many of us approach religious education in our meetings. Philadelphia Yearly Meeting hosted a teacher accreditation weekend for religious education teachers interested in learning how to use the Godly Play® curriculum. Godly Play®, created by Episcopal priest Jerome Berryman, opened the way for Friends to teach stories of the Bible using a method that:
- embodies the Quaker idea of continuing revelation,
- supports multiple perspectives on a story,
- encourages silence as a tool within storytelling, and
- honors the diversity of ways the Spirit works within each person.
As Friends, we felt a deep resonance with these aspects of the experiential curriculum. It did not take long during that weekend for a group of Friends to begin discussing ways we could use the full range of techniques in the Godly Play® method to also tell stories of Quaker faith, practice and witness. We formed an ad hoc working group of Friends from Baltimore, New England and Philadelphia Yearly Meetings. For the last nine years, we have worked to create these companion stories for Friends. We considered many names for our work, and settled on Faith & Play because it represents the heart and method of our work, and also because it is analogous to another touchstone for Friends, Faith and Practice.
As the working group continues to create and refine additional stories for Friends, the bank of stories grows and deepens. As they are written in the manner of Godly Play®, the stories are meant to be a companion to the work of Jerome Berryman, and for their use to be effective one must first have a working knowledge of Berryman’s methodology, theology of childhood, and classroom management strategies. Therefore, we do not recommend these Faith & Play stories to teachers who have not had Godly Play® training.