by Bill Gordh
I smiled when I saw the art the children of St. John’s journey group created to go with the story “A Night of Peace.” The Scottish story tells of God speaking to the animals about a forthcoming night of peace. God tells the animals that when they see a mighty star in the sky, a star shining down on the little town of Bethlehem, they will feel peace in their hearts and in the world. The images the St. John’s children created—a wolf on a hill, a fox, a lion, a swan, a couple of rabbits, several stars with big decorative jewels on them---enlivened the story. I also sensed what I’d hoped would happen did indeed happen --- that the children made a deeper connection to the story by making art to accompany the text.
“A Night of Peace” will be one of several stories published in my new book Making Room for Everyone: More Stories for Building a Children’s Chapel. The book comes out August 2020 by Church Publishing, the Episcopal Church’s official publisher of worship materials and resources. Whereas my first book with Church Publishing, Building a Children’s Chapel: One Story at a Time, was composed of almost entirely of Bible stories and illustrated exclusively by children at the Episcopal School in New York City, my new book presents folktales from around the world and is illustrated by several churches, schools, and synagogues. The underscores our openness to God’s rich world and our support of children who come to children’s chapel from varied cultural backgrounds.
I am thrilled that the St. John’s Fall Faith and Fun Journey Group is working with two of the thirty-seven stories retold including the Scottish tale “A Night of Peace” and a Japanese folktale “The Stonecutter.”
Bill Gordh is an author, storyteller, curriculum designer, songwriter and banjoist. He is the Director of Expressive Arts at the Episcopal School in New York City. Bill grew up in Roanoke where his father was a chaplain at Hollins College and for three summers performed at Mill Mountain Playhouse when it was still on Mill Mountain. Bill led a children’s chapel at St. John’s in the spring of 2017.