Thursday, December 21, 2006

Happy Christmas!

Christians, awake, salute the happy morn,
Whereon the Saviour of the World was born;
Rise to adore the mystery of love,
Which hosts of angels chanted from above;
With them the joyful tidings first begun
Of God incarnate and the Virgin's Son.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

A spark of God's love

When my bones were being formed,
Carefully put together in my mother's womb,
When I was growing there in secret,
You knew that I was there -
You saw me before I was born.

Psalm 139:15-16 (GNB)

Before I formed you in the womb
you were contained in my being.
I have known and cherished you forever.

Long before the world began,
I was a spark of God's love.
I was already chosen in the heart of God
to be holy, to be dear.

Macrina Wiederkehr OSB, Behold Your Life

Thursday, November 16, 2006

My church gave me an asbo

Here's another poem I've just discovered on the Net.

My church gave me an asbo*

By Nick Lear

My church gave me an asbo for shouting during prayers
They said I was disruptive: I said I didn't care
My church gave me an asbo for crawling under pews
They said it was distracting - untying people's shoes
My church gave me an asbo for singing the wrong words
They said it was disgusting: I thought they were absurd
My church gave me an asbo for laughing far too loud
They said it was despicable: I felt rather proud
My church gave me an asbo for sticking out my tongue
They said I'm disrespectful: I was having fun
My church gave me an asbo for running in the aisle
They said it's dangerous for a seven year-old child

*asbo = Anti Social Behaviour Order

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Today's people

"Children are not the people of tomorrow, but people today. They are entitled to be taken seriously. They have a right to be treated by adults with tenderness and respect, as equals. They should be allowed to grow into whoever they were meant to be - The unknown person inside each of them is the hope for the future."

Latest activities

So, what's been happening these last couple of months in terms of activities related to my children's work? Plenty of travelling - with meetings in Bilbao, Tarragona, England, Barcelona, Valencia and Madrid!

In September, I was in Barakaldo, near Bilbao, leading an introductory seminar on Godly Play (9th), and later in the month in Salou, Tarragona, running the second Godly Play workshop this year in that place (23rd).

The visit to Salou also included a Godly Play Sunday school class with the children.

At the end of September, I flew to England in order to take part in the Godly Play International Conference. The conference took place from 30th September to 3rd October, at Holland House, a beautiful Tudor-style retreat centre near Evesham, Worcestershire. There were delegates from Canada, Finland, Germany, Norway, Spain, Switzerland, UK and USA.

One of things that was decided at this first European Godly Play Conference was that the second one would be held in Madrid in 2008... and that I would find the venue and host the event!!!

Taking advantage of my time in England, I was able to visit the beautiful Godly Play classroom in Abingdon, Oxfordshire. Such a model classrrom is my dream for Madrid - a place open for groups of children from churches and schools, and also a venue for training events.

Back in Spain, on 21st October I led another Godly Play workshop at a church in the centre of Barcelona, and the following day, during the Sunday morning service, I presented the story of Jonah to a group of children from the church.

However, the day had not yet finished! Taking advantage of my visit to Barcelona, a church in the seaside town of Premià de Mar invited me to present a Godly Play story on the Sunday evening to a group of parents and children from the congregation. This time it was the story of Noah and the Great Flood.

The month of October ended with a trip to Valencia (28th), where I led another Godly Play introduction day.

Finally, on 4th November I took part in a conference on the Family in the 21st Century. This was in Madrid - so this time there was no long-distance travelling involved! At the conference, I led a workshop on Family Breakdown and the its Repercussions in Children.

Now for a short break before I travel again to Barcelona at the beginning of December!

Catching up

I am well aware that this blog has been lying idle for far too long. Meanwhile, I have been keeping my three Spanish-language blogs up to date: You can have a look at these blogs by clicking on the links. Although they are all in Spanish, they do have plenty of photos to make a visit worthwhile, even if you don't speak the language.

However, I am well aware that I need to catch up with news for my English-speaking readers. So here we go...

Friday, August 25, 2006

What is a child?

Here's a poem I read some years ago. I've just come across it again in my summer reading, and I thought I'd reproduce it for the benefit of my readership... i.e. for all two of you!!!

What is a child? It's worthwhile being sure,
For their outlook - not ours - he called mature...
Describe a child, then. Simple? Passive? Gentle?
A widespread view, but not one that's parental!
Yes, partly true - but most sentimental.
Those who've had children know they're pioneers,
Tireless seekers hungry for ideas,
Questioners, ready to learn and solve and find,
Committed, energetic, quick of mind,
They trust, they love, but don't use love or trust
As an excuse to sit, grow dull and rust...
If their imaginations are more clear
Than ours, is it not possible they hear?
More clearly too? Are spiritually quicker
Than many a teacher, youth leader or vicar?
May they not hear the voice of God and shout it,
While we get on quite nicely, thanks, without it?
They may not have the knowledge we possess,
So the Holy Spirit has to shift much less
In terms of intellectual debris
Than perhaps he might with you. Or you.
Or me.

From the video Children in the Way, NS/CHP, 1988. Cited in Dallow, G. (2002) Touching the Future, Oxford: The Bible Reading Fellowship, p. 82.


My daughter, Lorna, and her children have just spent a fortnight with us in Madrid. One of the highlights of their visit was the chance for us all to witness the joyful interaction of our two youngest grandchildren, Raúl (on the left of the photo) and Claudia (on the right). They are both about 18 months old.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

RE Teachers' Summer School

Last Wednesday 12th July, I led Godly Play taster sessions at the RE Teachers' Summer School, which took place at the Betania Centre in Ciudad Real. The school was organized by ERE (Enseñanza Religiosa Evangélica) - the government-approved group in charge of training and placing teachers in state schools for protestant RE. Twenty teachers took part, representing churches and schools from various regions in Spain.

Within my time constraints, I was able to present two stories: the Great Family (Abraham & Sarah's faith journey), and the Parable of the Pearl of Great Price. The discussion which followed each presentation focussed on the possible use of Godly Play in schools as an alternative method of teaching RE. Reference was made to The National Society's Godly Play Schools' Project in the UK.

There was also a lively discussion regarding the place of religious iconography in conservative protestant circles, as Godly Play makes much of symbols, wooden figures and Anglican liturgy.

Here are a few photos of the event.

During the free response time that took place after the Abraham and Sarah story, one of the participants went in search of 'altars' from various parts of our Godly Play classroom. He then completed his collection by adding his Spanish ID and photo - as another of God's altars!

Here's some feedback from a few of the participants at the seminar:
  • "I have really enjoyed this workshop - in my opinion this method would be great for the over 5s."
  • "Thanks for the presentation and the way you have shared with us."
  • "It has been a very interesting and innovative workshop - it has sparked off many ideas for our teaching practice, especially that of school RE."

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Family visit

Taking advantage of the Godly Play Enrichment Day (see below), I was able to do several other things: visit my daughter, Lorna, and her family; spend an evening with a friend, David, who has recently suffered the bereavement of his wife; have lunch with my sister, Linda; and also preach at last Sunday's (25 June) morning service at Roxeth Green Free Church.

Here are a few photos of my daughter and grandchildren.

London: Godly Play Enrichment Day

On Thursday, 22nd June, at London Diocesan House (C of E), I took part in a Godly Play Enrichment Day. There were about 60 people attending - mainly from Anglican and Methodist churches from various parts of the UK. I flew in from Spain especially to take part in the event, which, as well as being a one-day refresher course, also provided the requirements for re-accreditation as a Godly Play teacher.

Apart from the introductory and concluding sessions, the rest of the time was spent in groups of about 15 participants. The Enrichment Day was planned around new stories that will shortly be published in volume 6 of the series The Complete Guide to Godly Play. Specifically, we were able to interact with the stories of Sarah, David and Isaiah and view prototype materials for these stories.

The leaders and co-ordinators of the event were: Rebecca Nye, the director of empirical research for the global community of Godly Play, and senior researcher at the Faculty of Divinity, Cambridge University; Peter Privett, the Godly Play Regional Training Consultant for the UK and Europe; Cyndy Bishop, a Godly Play trainer who, before recently moving to the UK, was the director for Children’s Ministry for one of the largest churches in the USA; and Alison Seaman, an expert on the application of Godly Play to school RE.

Peter Privett presents the story of Isaiah

Prototype material for the stories of Sarah, David & Isaiah

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Seminar in Barcelona

On 18th May, I was invited to speak on the topic of 'Sunday School' at the CEEB Bible Institute, in Barcelona. The event was part of a series of seminars on the theme of Christian Education.

Seventeen people attended the seminar, representing churches in and around Barcelona. The contents of the seminar included:
1) a summary of the origins of the Sunday School movement, a critical assessment of the 'school model' which many local churches have inherited, and a brief look at alternative models for church-based education.
2) a review of recent investigations into Child Spirituality which, together with insights from Developmental Psychology and Theology, need to inform our work with children in the local church.
3) a sample of Godly Play.

This last part consisted of a presentation of the Creation story (Genesis 1:1 - 2:3). Finally, the participants in the seminar were able to reflect creatively on this sacred story, through the typical Godly Play wondering questions, and draw connections to church-based educational practice.

The concept of 'education' in Spanish also includes the notion of 'child rearing'. This is explicit in some of the other seminars in the programme organized by the CEEB Institute:

· Biblical principles in education
· Moral education & discipline
· The father's role in education
· The mother's role in education
· School education

(Photos by courtesy of AGDE)

Monday, April 10, 2006

Happy Easter!
"He is risen indeed!"

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Leadership Training Seminar - Spanish Women's Missionary Baptist Union

Last weekend (24-26 March), I took part in the 7th Leadership Training Seminar, organized by the Spanish Women's Baptist Missionary Union (UMMBE). The seminar was held in the beautiful surroundings of Guadarrama, near the snow-capped mountains to the northwest of the city of Madrid.

This year, there were two separate parallel programmes: (i) talks on leadership and discipleship matters, as well as on domestic violence; and (ii) work with children and young people. Within this latter track, I was able to present Godly Play in three separate sessions. In all, about 70 people attended (mainly women), from many different parts of Spain, and approximately half that number participated in each of the two programmes.

After observing and actively taking part in a Godly Play story, the participants were given the opportunity to respond individually.

Some chose to do so through reading or creative writing...

...whilst others used the various art materials available.

Following this response time, we celebrated the 'feast', during which the participants freely shared their impressions about the Godly Play method.

After that... even more stories and wondering!

On the whole, the commentaries were very positive:
  • "I really believe this method is a channel of blessing. May God multiply the workers."
  • "It seems to me that Godly Play is a great method as it specifically addresses the child's spiritual dimension. I like the fact that the children are blessed individually at the end of each session."
  • "I'm so glad that this method has reached the church in Spain."
  • "This has really been helpful and a great blessing to me personally. I find it very practical and straightforward."
  • "It would be great to encourage the training of teachers so as to develop our use of this method."
  • "My approach to working with children is very similar to what you have presented, but up to now I have not seen the implications for spiritual direction. I have focussed only on personal, social and intellectual development, and not the spiritual. So, now I feel quite enthusiastic about putting it into practice. Thank you."
  • "Working with children is such a great challenge."
  • "Up to now, there seems to have been little work on children's spiritual development. Of course, there have been Bible stories and verses, but not much work on drawing out personal applications."
  • "This has been such a great blessing for my own life!"

Some of the participants have asked for Godly Play taster days and workshops in their own towns and cities. I guess I shall not be short of work for a while, as this will be on top of all the invitations I already have - just take a look at my Agenda in the right-hand column!