Our Christian Formation program for children is called Guiding RAY (Religious Adventures for Youth)
At Saint Mary’s, we are committed to the spiritual formation of our children, and our Guiding RAY program provides fun, interactive and spiritual instruction for Pre K-5th grade children. Our classes are designed to both appeal to and offer our children an opportunity to learn key bible stories and to develop their relationship with God. We use “Godly Play” as the curriculum through which we achieve this goal.
Godly Play is a program developed by an Episcopal presbyter. It assumes that children have the presence of God in their life but they lack the language, permission, and understanding to express their experiences. Godly Play is a children’s worship space created specifically for the religious needs of the young child. Children follow their own liturgy which in many ways parallels the Episcopal liturgy parents experience concurrently.
Children enter their own sacred space and are individually greeted by the teachers. As everyone joins in the circle, children get ready for worship and then enter into a sensorimotor storytelling experience based on parables, sacred stories, or liturgical actions. Beautiful wooden figures, felt, and sand are used to capture the attention of the child and allow them to fully enter into the story. The children are then invited to respond through shared wondering and then by a child chosen tactile response with lesson or art materials. After this time, children gather back into the circle to share a feast together and then prepare to say goodbye and leave the space.
In Godly Play, each session follows the same pattern as the Holy Eucharist in the church, so children develop a deep understanding and enjoy fuller participation when they attend corporate worship.
The class follows the Order of Worship:
- Getting Ready (Opening)
- Bible Story (Listening to the Word)
- Wondering (Responding to the Word)
- The Feast (Holy Communion)
- Saying Goodbye (Blessing and Dismissal)
Special services for children (i.e., Ash Wednesday, Good Friday Children’s Stations of the Cross, and the annual Christmas Pageant) are held throughout the year.
Regular Guiding RAY Schedule: early September – mid June
9:30 am: Family Chapel with Father Nathan in the Father James Chapel
9:45am: Guiding RAY classes begin (lower level of Parish House)
10:35am: Children are brought to Church to join their families for Communion
Guiding RAY Director: Megan Akers, GuidingRAY@smary.org; 415-4260
Guiding RAY Teachers & Volunteers: Sandy Couch-Kelly, Hannah de Sorbo, DeeDee Fournier, Heather Gale, Penny Guyton, Julie Otte, Vanessa Record, Roberta Stothart. We are always looking for more teachers/volunteers. All are welcome!