Children meeting God through story-telling

Imagine 20 Primary School-aged children meeting during church. Your first thought might well be noise and chaos!

But once a month, the children gather for something quite different. There’s stillness and silence, there’s calm reflection and craft. It’s called Godly Play.

Invented in the US, Godly Play is a way of doing ‘Sunday School’. It’s less about teaching information, and more about the children themselves experiencing God through the ancient stories of the Bible.

Sat in a circle the children gather to watch a story-teller slowly retell a story from memory. Old Testament stories often involve wooden 3D figures, and a sand box – a little bit of the desert that surrounds Israel. Jesus’ parables are told with a golden box containing coloured felt and 2D paper cut-out figures.

There’s no hurry in telling the story. The story-teller’s slow enjoyment of the story rubs off on the children. After the story is finished, the teller asks the children to ‘Wonder’. ‘What’s your favourite part of the story?’ ‘Can we miss parts out?’ ‘Who are you most like in the story?’

After the children have explored their own responses the circle breaks up for craft. Godly Play sometimes ends with the children sharing a juice drink and a biscuit. Again this is done slowly, like Holy Communion.

This is the aim of Godly Play: to be less like a lesson, and more like Church for children. It’s great fun for adults, too.


Climate Matters!

As 2014 draws to a close, it looks to have been the hottest year on record (and one of the wettest). No wonder there is so much focus on next year’s international conferences on Climate Change.

So St John’s green team have decided it’s high time to renew our EcoCongregation award. It was in 2009 that we became the first Anglican church in Reading to receive the award. One step we took back then was to commit to buying green electricity from Ecotricity, who run the wind turbine at Green Park and are regularly reinvesting profits to create more renewable  generation capacity up and down the country.

Now we’re working on an action plan to help make more of the life and worship of the church as green as possible. As a first step many of us are measuring our weekly gas and electricity at home to discover our personal carbon footprints. We plan to share our findings and then try to reduce our use – a bit of competition should prove helpful encouragement. At the same time we’d like to shrink the church’s carbon footprint too (and its bills!)


At Tyrrell Court

At Tyrrell Court is one of three sheltered housing complexes in the parish. It is situated in London Road, opposite the old entrance to the university, and this year celebrated its 25th anniversary. Like Weirside Court and St Stephen’s Court closer to the parish centre, it benefits from the support of a carer/warden who spends a considerable amount of the week on-site, and between times an on-call support service based in Bracknell. In addition to the residents’ own self-contained flats there is an en-suite bedroom for their family and friends when they come to visit.

Some church members have been taking a communion service there for a number of years, and very much enjoy the welcome they receive from the residents. They are a lovely and lively group of people and at our visit in September we asked them why they are glad they moved into their flat. They all said they enjoyed the community spirit and the friendship, and that it was like living in a big family where they felt secure.

Quite a lot goes on in the way of entertainment, which includes coffee mornings, bingo, film afternoons, afternoon tea and cake, fish and chips lunch once a month and an outing in the summer. When we visit there is a cup (or two) of tea and a plentiful supply of biscuits. But residents also get out and about and find they have everything to hand: Readibus will pick them up, the RBH is just across the road, the doctor is down the road and there is a petrol station on the corner which also has a small convenience store, very convenient when it is pouring with rain!