A weekly Rector’s Notes Article, July 15, 2019
Part of our work as a community of faithful people is creating a worshiping space that is radically welcoming to all people, regardless of age or ability. There are conversations to be had in the future about how we can become more accessible given the constraints of our space, but we can take action now to be radically welcoming to the youngest visitors and members of our parish. It is in that spirit that we are expanding the front family sitting area on the lectern side of the nave.
By removing one additional pew, placing intentional seating for parents and for little ones, and providing access to not just engaging, interesting, and educational activities but a clearer, unobstructed view of what is happening throughout the service, our hope is to create a worship experience that benefits all in our parish.
One component of this is utilizing a part of the Godly Play model that encourages holy play. This is a tangible, hands-on engagement with the stories of our faith. Stories that are told season-after-season in our Joyful Noise Eucharist every Sunday at 9:30am, can be examined, explored, and recreated through the play of children being granted access to the story components during worship. This is not play that is overtly loud and disruptive but rather tasks children with thinking deeply about the characters that are part of the story and how they can see themselves present in the story as much as what the story is trying to teach them about our faith and how they are called to live into faith in their lives.
As we progress throughout our liturgical seasons, the stories available for play will necessarily shift to reflect the stories they are hearing at 10:30 as much as the stories they are hearing at 9:30 (we don’t always have a perfect overlap of story as much as we do theme). A good practice for you might be to see if you can identify the stories we are hearing with the Godly Play components that are out and available, that are used to create scenes you can see as you come up for communion. All the Godly Play stories will be placed on a shelf directly under the lectern.
Through our encouragement of holy play, of encouraging our littlest members to explore their faith, whether it be with Godly Play stories, reading children’s books that explain the components of our faith and worship, coloring, or simply being close enough to watch the service without obstruction, we practice the radical welcome that not only is our call as followers of Christ, but is essential towards being a space where all feel welcome and encouraged to engage in worship whether they have been here for 40 years or 4 minutes.
In order to help build up our supply of holy play appropriate materials and resources, please follow this link to an Amazon shopping list to purchase materials for our new space. We thank you in advance for supporting families, children, and a deeper worship experience for all in our congregation. I also encourage you to check out the new library children’s space. This enables our youngest members to continue to feel welcome as they go from worship to fellowship. Some of our new resources will be utilized in this space to further the learning and engagement they experience on Sunday morning.