Children’s Formation and Sunday School at St. Thomas’ Church
Our Children’s Formation program currently consists of St. Thomas’ Sunday School, which uses the Godly Play method, and Special Events occasionally held for children and their families. The Rev. Michael W. Hopkins is the Children’s Formation Coordinator and principle Sunday School teacher. Father Michael is a retired priest who has made St. Thomas’ his home. He lives in Hornell, but was raised in Avoca and first came into the Episcopal Church at St. Thomas in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
What is Godly Play?
St. Thomas’ Sunday School uses a method called “Godly Play.” The term puts some people off in that it seems not to take our faith seriously. “Play” used in this sense is tapping into the power of story, imagination, and wonder that is especially important for children as they discover their place in the world. In Godly Play, we tell stories from the Bible in such a way as to engage the child’s wonder and imagination. One result of this method is that children often learn the stories and make them their own, and this can happen at a very young age.
Another way of explaining this method is that it is a way of awakening the spiritual imagination—the relationship they already have with God—rather than us trying somehow to put God there. Children have an innate sense of the spiritual. They often “get” what is going on around them (including in church) even if it appears otherwise.
We are committed to every child, and that means no matter how many kids are in attendance on any given Sunday, they get the same lesson.
These include both times of fun and community, such as our Hallowe’en Party and our St. Nicholas Party, and times of deeper learning like “Holy Week for Kids,” held on the Saturday before Palm Sunday.