The first story guild was established in 1998 at Grandview Calvary Baptist Church in East Vancouver where Tama was both a pastor and religious educator. Interested in finding alternatives to cut-and-paste Sunday School curriculum, Tama collaborated with her husband, Loren Balisky and friend, Mary Dickau to imagine an immersive, physical theatre experience for kids to engage with Bible stories. For the next 18 years Tama piloted the innovative Eastside Story Guild as it grew from half-a dozen mixed-aged kids to an intergenerational community of 50+ participants. Curtis Mathewson was the first music director and developed dozens of musical scores to accompany the story telling events. And in 2014, Larisse Campbell joined as ESG’s first Artistic Director. Since 2017 the Eastside Story Guild has continued under the direction of Jeqn Sneller.
In 2012, Tama and Curtis traveled to Kenya to attempt a joint-storytelling project between Bantu Christians and Somali Muslims that told the shared story of Hagar and Ishmael. Political unrest in the area made it unsafe to continue the Tana River Story Guild site beyond its first year
.In 2010, with the help of program director Adriana Zepeda, a new story guild site was launched in the Cuchilla del Tesoro neighbourhood of Mexico City. Over four seasons Contando Historias told the biblical stories of King David, Cain and Abel, Creation, and the Resurrection of Jesus.
In 2018 when she started as the Minister of Children, Youth and Families with Canadian Memorial United Church, Tama launched the Burrard St. Story Guild. In 2019 we welcomed Larisse Campbell as our Theatre Arts Director and Ricardo Pequenino as our Music Arts Director.The Assisi Story Guild, s
tarted in 2015, was the first Catholic site directed by Anne-Marie Hughes out of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in East Vancouver. Storytelling seasons included Noah’s Ark, Abraham and Sarah and the first historical (rather than biblical) story of St. Francis.
Currently, all the story guild and story arts materials are gathered online on the Sacred Canopy website (sacredcanopy.com) and onsite at Canadian Memorial United Church, Vancouver, BC.In 2021, Tama began adapting the story guild method to a Sunday School style curriculum called Story Arts .