‘Godly Play’ is a very specific way of telling religious or Bible stories to children and adults. It was developed in the US in the 1980s by Jerome Berryman, a Presbyterian minister who was later ordained an Episcopalian priest. Godly Play has undergone a vibrant development in Christian education in recent decades, not only in the US but also in the UK and other European countries.
In Godly Play the text of the story is reduced to a bare minimum – leaving a lot of room for the individual imagination of the listener – and visuals are used to support the story. These visuals can be small wooden figures (‘the people of God’) being moved along in a heap of sand (‘the desert’), or seven paintings of the seven days of creation (Genesis), for instance.
There are many stories: Old Testament stories, New Testament stories, parables, enrichment stories, stories about the saints and about the sacraments, and each of them has their own fixed text and set of visuals.
Madeleine de Boer is our Godly Play Story teller: “When watching and listening to a Godly Play story/parable, it feels like entering into the bible and experiencing what is going on almost physically. So not so much ‘hearing’ bible stories, but ‘living’ bible stories: being there!”