Bethel Community Presbyterian Church

San Leandro, California

To strengthen the hermeneutical skills, Biblical literacy, and spiritual agency of worshipers through the development of Bibliodrama in a local congregation that will help traumatized people to find themselves within the story of God.

Summarize your grant project and how it will address a need in your worshiping community. 

Our project will explore the practice of Bibliodrama- a form of role playing and improvisational theater using Biblical narratives- in the life of a local congregation. Through its implementation in both liturgical and discipleship spaces, we will examine its efficacy in rekindling a love of Scripture, fostering empathy across difference, and cultivating healing space for traumatized people as they bring their own diverse life stories into conversation with the story of God.

What two questions might you ask about worship in the coming year that will generate theological reflection and shape your project? 

-How do we create a more robust, holistic, and inclusive practice of Biblical engagement that balances lived experience with intellectual rigor while moving beyond the model of traditional sermons? 

 -How does Bibliodrama help reclaim our theology from oppressive systems so that traumatized and marginalized peoples might encounter the goodness, faithfulness, and love of God as revealed in the Bible? 

How will your project impact the worship life and habits of the congregation?

First, it will help rekindle a passion for Scripture in an age and context where Biblical literacy is in decline, as practices of role-playing, improvisation, and storytelling make Scriptural engagement more accessible and embodied for congregants.  Amidst a diverse congregation with a range of lived experiences, the project will also form a space of connection, empathy-building, and mutual understanding, as we share more of our thoughts, feelings, and stories with one another in Bibliodrama. Finally, this project will give us a lens for reading the Biblical narrative with a lens for trauma and healing, oppression and liberation, while inviting traumatized and marginalized communities to find themselves in the story of Scripture. 

What might be your greatest challenges (or challenging opportunities)?

One challenge as we engage Bibliodrama is that it requires a high level of vulnerability. People may be nervous to engage, either because they are intimidated by the form or feel hesitant to open their lives so deeply. Additionally, we'll host some experiences virtually due to a hybrid community, and coordinating over time zones and adapting for Zoom may be challenging. Through creative and adaptable facilitation, education, and pastoral care, we are excited to foster transformative experiences. 

What do you hope to learn from the Grants Event and other grant recipients?

We hope to learn about the other projects that are happening in this cycle. We also hope to learn a  little bit more about the leadership and administration of the grant, and potential pitfalls to watch out for, as well as how to think about aspects of publicity, promotion, and documentation.