Thursday, February 14, 2008


I had my first workout at the gym yesterday and man am I sore today--especially in my arms. But I was pleased with my performance on the treadmill and elsewhere. I think this will work out. It's funny, I'm used to college and university gyms (and Dojos)--the gym I just joined is much fancier than that: lots of piles of white fluffy towels around, flat screen TV's in the locker room, new equipment, juice bar, etc.

This morning at Belmont House no one came to the Anglican Communion Service run by COTM. Just at the Chaplain and I decided that this was a sign that it was time to give up doing the service for good, a nice Presbyterian lady showed up. When she heard that she was the only one she went into the hall and grabbed the next person to walk by and convinced her to attend, as well.

Still, it has become clear to Don (the Chaplain) and myself that it's time to re-evaluate Messiah's mid-week service. It seems that the other Anglican churches in our neighborhood (Redeemer, Christ Church Deer Park, etc.) once had midweek chapel services like us, but found them to unsustainable once the people that developed them moved on. It seems that priests like my predecessor were able to build up a following over years of work, and that when they moved on the corresponding service at Belmont simply collapsed. I seem to be suffering the same fate as the other churches. The only mid-week Anglican Communion service still thriving is the one run by Milton Barry (of Grace Church on the Hill). He's the last of that generation of local clergy doing ministry at Belmont House.

But all is not lost. Although the chapel service is struggling, we can still do Communion on the fourth floor (this is where folks with cognitive deficits live). Like Redeemer and Christ Church, we are simply going to drop the chapel Eucharist and continue doing a short service upstairs.

When Don and I decided to drop the mid-week Communion service, I felt disappointed and sad (more than I expected to feel). It's the end of something. So I decided to wrap it up with the two nice ladies in the chapel. Don and I sat down with them and I led an abbreviated morning prayer service. I ended up doing a meditation/homily about love (it is St. Valentine's Day), which they appreciated very much. It seemed fitting to end things on that note.

Today I had a very encouraging meeting with a person working on a cutting edge of children's ministry. I'll be able to talk more about this in a few weeks as it develops, but it looks like I finally have a direction to go with Christian Ed. at COTM. They next key will be hiring the right person to help us develop and implement the vision!

Now I need to write my Prayer of the Week and then get to the gym for today's discipline!



Blythe said...

Hi Tay -

I occasionally read your blog and enjoy it. I'm very curious about the "cutting edge" children's ministry that you mention. I'm a big fan of Godly Play and believe it is truly on the cutting edge of children's ministry. Can you give a hint about what direction you're moving in?



Tay Moss said...

Sure, Blythe, I'll give you some hints. But first let me say that this parish has been doing Godly Play for several years and that it has served this parish well in that time. However, we have begun to run into the limitations of the program in our circumstance. The main problem is that since we are a "one-room Sunday School" kind of church, the kids have all heard the Godly Play stories a million times and are frankly quite bored with them by now. This isn't a problem in parishes where the kids can be divided up by ages and can therefore "graduate" from GP to other programs. It's hasty to say that we are abandoning GP all together, but we may shelve it for a while (at least until we have some new, younger kids that have never been through it).

Keep in mind, BTW, that Godly play has been around for a while. I believe the first actually classes happened in 1972. It's very popular in the states and I was familiar with it in that context well before I went to seminary.

So to go beyond Godly Play we are looking at something that focuses on the development of character and virtue. This is part of a larger movement spearheaded by the Roman Catholic Schools and now being explored by the Public School Boards. The secular version is, of course, missing the whole Christ thing, which is where the church can come into the picture.

This is about much more than just making kids behave well or ethically--we're talking about nurturing the spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit such as love, self-control, generosity, and so forth.

My meeting today was with a professional educator and ordained person who has a lot of excitement and energy for this work, so I'm sure what we develop will be special!


Blythe said...

Thanks for your response, Tay.

I hope you don't mind if I respond to your response! Hmmm...where to start? Perhaps I should warn you that being a "big fan" of Godly Play sometimes means I wander over to the side of being a "fanatic!"

Having used Godly Play for about 10 years now, I'm well aware of its history and its limitations. Let's hope that just because something has been in development for 30 years, doesn't mean it can no longer be cutting edge. You would certainly be in the wrong business if ideas and practices that were 30 years old were passé! I happen to believe that Jerome Berryman was ahead of his time in the development of Godly Play and many of us are just now catching up to him. When he began wondering with children about the great stories and rites of our faith, many of us were seeing children simply as objects or recipients of information that adults held. When he was inviting children to respond deeply and question both personally and in community, many of us were providing pat answers and fill-in-the-blank worksheets. I believe the reason Godly Play has flourished in the past five years or so in England, Germany, Finland, Spain, Tanzania, Canada, and Australia is because adults are finally realising that not only were many of our methods faulty, but we really weren't getting what Jesus was about when he kept putting children in the centre and encouraging adults to be more like them. Godly Play has been the impetus for many to take seriously the spiritual gifts inherent in children and begin to learn how to nurture those gifts without coercion or condescension.

As for the children at your church having heard the Godly Play stories a "million" times and finding them boring, first of all it must mean that yours was a leading parish in using Godly Play in Canada, so good for you! Also, it may be a sign that a) they haven't been introduced to some of the new stories in the Godly Play repertoire, and b) the leaders haven't been properly equipped to both understand how and not be intimidated to go deep with the children in their wondering and response. In many parishes with larger groups of children where the children are grouped into age level clusters, they have multiple Godly Play rooms, continuing to use the stories for all ages. In some parishes in which the "one-room" model is employed, the storyteller simply invites the younger children to go to work time and continues to wonder more deeply with the older children and often tells them one of the stories developed especially for them. And of course, there are the settings in which Godly Play is being used in the continuing faith formation of youth and adults. So, I'm not sure that it's fair to say that children need to "graduate" from Godly Play in order to continue in their spiritual growth and faith formation.

Anyway, I'm happy to hear that Godly Play won't be completely shelved at your church, and I'll look forward to hearing about the special program that you, your colleague, and your parishioners develop.

All the best,


Tay Moss said...

Blythe, thanks for the thoughtful response. I agree with you that many of the limitations we are experiencing may be the result of execution rather than the program itself, but in order to get to a place of excellence in execution I think we need the energy and enthusiasm that a new initiative will provide us. The fact is that I just don't have anybody in the parish right now that is really excited by Godly play and willing to invest the time to develop it further here. That may change in the future, but for now I have to feed the people I've got, and this change is being driven by their needs and my own sense of the possibilities inherit in building a new program.