Using Godly Play with Older People

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Last year Major Marjory Parrott took part in a pilot scheme to use Godly Play with a group of older people and, with their consent, recorded her observations. The aim was to see if  Godly Play could support their spiritual well being.

Six sessions were held on weekday evenings with a small group comprising Salvationists and non Salvationists. The stories used were Creation, The Great Family, Pearl, Good Shepherd , The Mercy Seat and The Holy Family. In each session there was a welcome from the door person, a story, wondering, response, feast time and a final feast time.

When I visited Marjory in the autumn she shared some of her general observations about using Godly Play with this group and they may inspire you!

‘The group went to places of reflection that they never normally go to in a meeting. It took them deeper and allowed them to be with God in a different way. They stepped out of themselves and saw things from another’s perspective.’

Whilst keeping to the principles of Godly Play, Marjory found she needed to make some adaptations. The group engaged in verbal wondering far more readily over tea and biscuits (the feast) after their response time. She thinks that they needed more personal reflection time to process the story. At this point she and the door person helped the early conversations along. By having the same materials on the Response Table she found individuals soon became happy to pick up an activity or sit quietly with little support from the door person.

On a practical level, Marjory chose to tell the story on the floor with participants seated. This worked well as it was a small group but low tables could also be used for the story.

When Marjory first saw Godly Play she liked it but thought it was irrelevant as she didn’t work with children. In taking up the challenge to do these six sessions she has discovered that it is a powerful way to spiritually accompany older people. For her too it has been a spiritual journey, not least in learning the scripts and allowing them to become a part of her. ‘There have been moments of revelation as I have learnt and told the stories.’ She says that taking the time to prepare well has been key.

Enthused by her experience Marjory has also used Godly Play in a local care home. I spoke to the Activities Coordinator who was amazed and delighted at the engagement of the residents. She wanted to know if she and the chaplain  could also train to use Godly Play.

Would you like to use Godly Play over six sessions in 2018?  We can provide you with materials and in return for filling out a simple pro forma at the end of each session you can have a free story of your choice! Our conclusion from Marjory’s experience is that GP powerfully supported the spiritual well being of everyone involved.