'Come Dance With Me'
A report from the 2017 Godly Play Conference in Sheffield Cathedral, which marked 10 years of the charity's work and influence
Godly Play UK has been committed to providing an annual childhood spirituality conference for 10 years, and this year the theme was ‘Come Dance With Me’.
Two hundred people gathered in Sheffield Cathedral to hear John Bell of the Iona Community, reflecting on the ‘Tangibility of Jesus’. This marked the opening of the two-day conference with people travelling from all parts of the UK, Europe and the USA.
John explored the sensitive and challenging ways in which Jesus physically touched and was touched by people. He spoke of his experience of Godly Play with children from a school in an UPA parish in Middlesbrough. For him it was a significant method through which the spirituality of children can be supported and affirmed.
On Saturday, the Revd Peter Privett, a Godly Play trainer and Chair of the International Godly Play Council, developed the theme further. He took inspiration from a poem by Hafiz, a 14th-century mystic.
Every child has known God,
Not the God of names,
Not the God of don’ts,
Not the God who ever does anything weird
But the God who only knows four words
And keeps repeating them, saying:
“Come Dance with Me.
Dance as a metaphor for our ongoing relationship with God, and insights from writers taking the theme of dance were explored. Searching questions enabled delegates to reflect on their role in supporting the spiritual life of children.
Workshops helped people to explore the versatility of GP in schools, care homes, and for their own spiritual journey.
In 2007 Godly Play UK became a charitable trust and has expanded to include a team of 14 freelance accredited trainers and 50 volunteer advocates. The event in Sheffield celebrated 10 years of the charity’s work and influence. Over that time, countless children and adults have benefitted from space and time to enter the stories.
Godly Play has helped all ages to come closer to God and themselves through play and creativity.
Godly Play (www.godlyplay.uk) is a movement that promotes support for the spirituality of childhood. Its influence has broadened to include churches, schools, elderly care settings and other communities.
Using a dynamic, open questioning technique, ‘I wonder…’ it draws on biblical stories and a rich and diverse heritage of worship, to investigate religious truth and the dilemmas of contemporary living.
Sian Hancock, tutor at Bristol Baptist College, is a Godly Play trainer and member of the Children, Young People and Families Round Table.