20 May 2012

saying Goodbye

A couple of days ago, one of the others who leads Junior Church texted me to ask if I'd be able to lead this week (I was away last week because of a funeral). I said yes. After church we held an informal "Gathering" at which we discussed upcoming plans, including the future of Junior Church. [Vandriver and I expect to be abroad during the upcoming academic year, and I am the only [adult] Godly Play enthusiast in our congregation (Seethroughfaith being in England at present).]

photo from Beulah Enterprises
I suggested that the others consider two solutions (or a third option, which would be a combination of the first two). One is the Beulah Land curriculum (the subject of our next guest post). The other is to not have any separate Junior Church program, but to set up a "Play and Pray" area during our regular services (here's a good description of the sort of thing I have in mind, and here's my account of the one time we've tried something like this before). We have never managed to continue Junior Church through the summer, and so last year we ended at Pentecost (which came quite late in the calendar then). So I think the congregation will introduce "Play and Pray" across the summer, and order the Beulah Land materials to consider using for autumn.

(last year)
Today's lesson had been the story of the Ascension. The Gospel of Luke closes with this, and has Jesus blessing his disciples as he is taken up into heaven, after which they return to Jerusalem with great joy. But in the opening of Acts, the story is more poignant. They're discussing the restoration of the kingdom to Israel, and just minutes later Jesus is taken up into a cloud. I picture the disciples just staring into the sky in shock, mouths hanging open. Literally. God has to send messengers: Nothing more to see here, folks. Move along now.

I mention this because it suddenly became clear at our Gathering that the consensus was that we'll have no Junior Church after Pentecost this year either. Since next Sunday, Pentecost, will be a Family Service... that meant I had just led the last Junior Church for this year, my last one for at least a year, and possibly the last Godly Play session we'll have. I'm sure it's due to poor communication on my part, but I was caught completely off-guard. I went off to put things away and realized I might as well go ahead and take them home! [Most of the art materials and cleaning materials belong to the church, but I've assembled and paid for all the Godly Play materials myself.]

It was a terribly sad feeling, and all the more difficult because I had been quite unprepared. I obviously hadn't warned the children at all, hadn't explained anything, hadn't said, This may be your last time to work with these materials.

working with Advent materials today

I'll continue to blog. I'll continue to interact with the children at our church whenever I see them, and I'll continue to look for opportunities to lead Godly Play.

But I was glad of the chance to clear the room slowly and then to walk home (leaving Vandriver to follow with the car) - as my time and space in which to say Goodbye to this stage of things and grieve a bit.

(Update: a follow-up post is here)


  1. I am so sorry! I worry sometimes that I may be the only adult enthusiast, too, as it seems the most vocal are the dissenters. So far, nobody else is volunteering to teach so I get to chose the curriculum. The stories you've shared are seeds that will continue to grow! Thank for you all you've shared here -- your blessings have rippled across the ocean.

    1. Thanks, Amanda! I should clarify that although I'm the only enthusiast, I haven't really had complaints or vocal dissenters. It's just that the other Junior Church volunteers find GP too daunting and are not ready to use it themselves. This year, I provided them with stories to read aloud from the Jesus Storybook Bible, which complemented what I was doing in GP.

  2. I do hope you'll be able to continue your GP journey in a new way this coming year. Beulah Land material looks interesting too. Lovely to have so many possibilities...

  3. I hate this
    I hate it that the vision of Godly Play hasn't been caught
    I hate it that as I am coming back you are leaving and because the materials are yours not the churches then that effectly means that they move with you
    I hate it that there was no real warning for you - and especially the kids - that this might have been the very last time they got to use the materials in their journey with God.

    All that I like about this is that you've been willing to do it - to invest in the kids - to try to challenge the church's theology of children - and somewhat tongue in cheek I like that the advent materials are still the most popular. They were the first. I love them too :)


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