Godly Play® News

An Alaska Teenager’s Godly Play Legacy: Honoring Joseph Balko (2000-2016)

Eaglescout5Joseph James Balko died Saturday, May 21st after he collapsed as he finished a race in the Regional Track and Field Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska. He was 15 years old. While they say “there are saints known only to God,” Joseph is a saint well-known to God and to the Fairbanks community.

Joseph left a legacy of Godly Play story materials that he lovingly made for the Catholic Schools of Fairbanks. When he was just 13 years old, Joseph identified the need for more story materials for his school’s Godly Play program. So Joseph decided to produce the materials as his Eagle Scout project. Because of this gift, Joseph’s loving, faithful spirit lives on through all who now–and all who will–work with the Godly Play story materials he produced.

Joseph became interested in Godly Play when his mother, Kathleen Balko, became a Godly Play storyteller with the help of Godly Play teacher Wendy Anderson. At that time, the Catholic Schools of Fairbanks had only one Godly Play in the preschool. Joseph’s work enabled the school to open another space in the school library which could be used by all teachers and students in the Pre-K through 12th grade school.eagle scout project

In Joseph’s obituary, his father Jim Balko said: “Joseph finished everything he started. He finished Boy Scouts with the rank of Eagle Scout. He finished his freshman year at Monroe Catholic High School with highest honors. And Joseph finished his last race with a time of 13 minutes and 10 seconds.”

Catholic Schools of Fairbanks’ Godly Play mentor Wendy Anderson tells us that “Joseph had an extraordinary faith. His kindness and sunny disposition enriched the lives of those around him, and his work will live on even as he has crossed the threshold to the life beyond.”

With deep gratitude and many prayers for all who guided Joseph spiritually and nurtured his deep, personal relationship with his community and with God, we honor Joseph Balko for his service and his legacy.

May you rest in peace in Christ’s eternal light, Joseph. We thank you for the gifts you have given to this world, and our prayers are with you in the next. Every ending is like a beginning and every beginning is like an ending. This is incredibly sad, and we offer prayers to all who grieve your passing and who grieve the passing of children whose time on earth ended early. But we also know there is an Easter kind of joy to your story.

Joseph’s Obituary

Alaska Dispatch News Article

Book Reviews from the Center!

stack of books on the dark wood background. toning. selective focus on the middle bookThe Foundation is pleased to announce a series of book reviews presented by the
Center for the Theology of Childhood.

The Center’s book reviews are available here and more will be added periodically. The first book reviewed in this series is The Grace of Playing: Pedagogies for Leaning into God’s New Creation (2016) by Courtney T. Goto.

The Center for the Theology of Childhood of the Godly Play Foundation is interested in the theory, practice, and empirical research concerning children’s religious lives, their spirituality, and the theological implications of what is learned. The Center is embarking on a project to offer original book reviews of volumes related to the spiritual guidance of children. This project is aimed to serve the international Godly Play community and to draw on it for these reviews, but those generally interested in this field will find them helpful as well.

Interest in the spirituality of children is on the rise, particularly among teachers, child psychologists, counselors, and parents. The reasons range from educational concerns for the development of the whole child to desires to build resilience in children and youth against depression, suicide, and risky behavior, such as drug and alcohol abuse. Research showing a positive correlation between spirituality and coping mechanisms for difficult human experiences and other measures of well-being has contributed to a sense of urgency for understanding both the nature of children’s spirituality and how to nurture and promote it. The Center for the Theology of Childhood aims to help those interested in this work by offering critical analyses of the publications currently available in this field.


Book Review Homepage

The Grace of Playing: Pedagogies for Leaning into God’s New Creation (2016) by Courtney T. Goto

Godly Play in Uruguay

Giving Tuesday 2015

Dear Friends of Godly Play,

Thank you for all the big work you have done!
Empowered by your gifts, Godly Play has reached so many.

Our chaotic world can be hard to understand, but bringing people closer to God through story and wonder makes a difference—a transformative difference.

In 2015 we:

  • Trained over 800 new US storytellers who will inspire roughly 5,000 children and adults.
  • Spread Godly Play in Cuba, Israel, New Zealand, Tanzania, and most recently, Turkey.
  • Brought together 250 Godly Players from five continents for sharing, learning, and wonder in Sewanee, TN, including presentations from our Jewish and Quaker practices and participants from Australia, Canada, Finland, Norway, Tanzania, Uruguay, and the US.
  • Began work on a revised and expanded Second Edition of The Complete Guide to Godly Play.
  • Created 15 new story videos set to publish to YouTube this month.
Godly Play in Costa Rica

Godly Play in Costa Rica

In 2016 we plan to launch a new project: Godly Play Español!

Serving our Spanish-language communities worldwide, Godly Play Español will include trainings and translations which retain the deep meaning and theological integrity of the Godly Play method. We are taking a thoughtful, prayerful approach to Godly Play Español and hope you will support this important work.

Please consider a giving back to the Godly Play circle.

Advent Blessings and Peace,
Godly Play Foundation Board of Directors