The Cathedral of St. Philip - Atlanta, GA

Sunday Morning

A Place for Everyone

Children’s Chapel takes place during the 8:45 a.m. service as an option for parents and children who are not yet ready to experience the full liturgy together, though children are always welcome in “big” church.

Children four years (by September 1, 2019) through fifth grade begin in church with their parents, then follow the children’s acolytes and leaders out at the sequence hymn. Children rejoin their parents at the Offertory. Two- and three-year-olds attend their own chapel service, which begins at 8:45 a.m.

Worshiping together is central to our common life here. Please join us with the confidence that children and their natural exuberance are not only allowed, but welcomed!

Godly Play, our Sunday School classes for children age 2 through fifth grade, starts at 10:10 a.m. Helping parents to access age-appropriate ways to participate in and reflect on our liturgical life, our sacred stories, our call to Christian service, our charge to share the Good News, and our shared spiritual life is essential to our ministry with children. Godly Play is at the heart of our Sunday morning classes and the Godly Play philosophy permeates all that we do with children and families at the Cathedral.

While all children are invited to participate fully in the liturgies here, we understand that some parents are more comfortable having their young children cared for by our professional and loving nurturing center staff during Sunday Morning services. The Nurturing Center is open for children four and younger from 8:30 through the end of the 11:15 service each week.


The Ten Best Ways for Parents

One Godly Play lesson introduces children to the “Ten Best Ways” to live. This is the story of the Ten Commandments. The following ten best ways are not commandments, but ways we invite you, the parent, to support your child’s Godly Play experience.

  1. Help your children be on time and ready! The ideal arrival time is between 10:05 and 10:10. Teachers need time to prepare for the day’s lesson, so please do not send your children to Sunday School early. Encourage your child to go to the bathroom before class. Children are always welcomed into the circle, but it is best if everyone is settled before the story starts.
  2. Be patient, knowing that part of what we are teaching the children is the importance of slowing down and being ready to be with God. The Godly Play circle is built slowly and lovingly, to welcome each child, one at a time. When children arrive, they wait outside the door while the teacher helps them get ready to join the circle.
  3. Say your goodbyes at the door, and know that the teachers are ready to make the next hour a safe and welcoming time for every child. Even if your child is not ready to go in, you may leave them to continuing getting ready with the doorkeeper once the rest of the children have gone into the room.
  4. Do not come into the room during drop off, class, or pick up. The Godly Play room is a sacred space for the children, and having additional adults in the room is disruptive to the flow of the class. The doorkeeper will dismiss the children one at a time so that each child has time to clean up their own things and say goodbye to the teachers. Again, please be patient! This is an important part of the lesson.
  5. Do attend the Open House on August 23 during the Sunday School hour or schedule a time with Lisa to visit a classroom. The environment is a critical part of the curriculum, and knowing more about the way things are set up will help you connect with your child about what happens there. You may also observe a class by appointment. It is best to observe when your own child is not a part of the group.
  6. Try not to be discouraged if children do not have the words to tell you about their experience in the classroom. Young children, in particular, will not always be about to tell you what they learned, because what they learned was how to learn about the powerful language of the Christian people. We will send out “parent pages” via email each week that can help you connect with your child through the lesson.
  7. Know that there may not be a physical product for their “work” that day, because some of what they are learning cannot be put into words even by adults. In Godly Play, we focus on our relationships with God, the depth of relationships in the community of children, and learning how to use the Christian language to make meaning of our experiences.
  8. Understand that some days we will choose not to include all of the parts of the lesson. In Godly Play we believe that we have “all the time we need,” and it is more important to respond to the needs of the children than to stick to a strict schedule. Skipping a particular piece of the lesson is not a punishment, it is an intentional decision made for the benefit of the entire group based on the time available.
  9. Support the program by learning more about Godly Play. Introductory material is available to borrow from the Education Department or to buy in the Cathedral Bookstore. Contact Lisa for information about trainings, adult Godly Play circles, and other resources.
  10. Stay connected with your child’s classroom teachers and Lisa. Always email or call 404-365-1082 if you have questions or concerns! 

In a Nutshell: The Godly Play Philosophy

About Children

  • Even young children today face and wrestle with complex existential issues.
  • Young children already have a spiritual life of depth that adults may not understand or honor.
  • Young children can discover and use the language of religious narrative and symbol that will allow them to express themselves spiritually and “make meaning.”

About Children’s Work

  • Children’s Play is their work.
  • Children are encouraged to choose their own work during each class.
  • Children like to work when it is work they have chosen for themselves.
  • Teachers do not interfere with the children’s work unless the child asks for help.
  • When a child seems unable to ask for assistance, it should be offered by the adult.
  • Part of the work of the community of children is the care of their own classroom environment and how they treat one another.
  • Children like to feel self-sufficient: it is good to allow them the opportunity to clean up their own spills and put away their own work.

About Teachers and Children

  • Teachers are guides. They do not need to have all the answers.
  • Children have much to teach adults who will take the time to listen.
  • Children are encouraged to do the work of discovering answers.
  • When a teacher takes time to listen and observe a child, the teacher can find more effective ways to lead the child into new discoveries.
  • Children are treated seriously and with deep respect; they are subjects, not objects.

About the Classroom Environment

  • The Godly Play classroom is a place for children :
    • To be themselves
    • To learn how Christians live in community
    • To come closer to the mystery of God’s presence
    • To learn the language of the Christian people
  • Respect for the space and for one another is maintained in a Godly Play classroom to help the children feel safe.
  • A Godly Play classroom should help each child feel successful.

About Enabling a Community of Children to Develop

  • In Godly Play children are encourage to form their own community and take care of one another.
  • A classroom is not “over-adulted.” This allows children to form a community and empowers them to be responsible for their space. It also keeps the storyteller and doorperson focused on the children and their work.