Hope. Courage. Resilience. Forgiveness. These words mean more, not less, against a backdrop of war, suffering and violence. The June 6 annual meeting of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, MA, USA highlighted this message. Church members gathered in-person and online, including members of the Christian Science Society, Sunshine Coast located in Maroochydore, to affirm the promise to be found in these enduring qualities of grace.
When lived, these qualities show “how Christ is transforming human experience,” explained this year’s chair of the church’s five-member Board of Directors, Keith Wommack. The meeting’s theme, a quote from the church’s founder, Mary Baker Eddy, points to “One infinite God, good” as the source of human progress — impelling neighbors and nations to unite in love and bringing within reach aspirations for equality, neutralizing hate, and even stopping wars.
The meeting highlighted small steps of progress toward those goals, including the role of The Christian Science Monitor, its 113-year-old news organization. The Monitor encourages readers’ engagement with world events in the spirit of bringing light — not heat — to complex domestic and international problems. The Monitor aims to reflect the church’s values, such as integrity and compassion, while striving to present unbiased news and recognize often-unseen points of progress.
The Christian Science Church has faced the same surging secular currents as other Christian and religious institutions in recent years. Yet in spite of challenges, members reported how difficult circumstances during the pandemic sparked a deeper love for others, and fresh opportunities to experience God’s healing power. Christian healing is central to the church’s founding purpose.
One woman reflected on the standard of Christian caring set out in the Church Manual, a 105-page volume that impartially governs the lay church and its members. She acknowledged the spiritual growth in love it impels, “a theme throughout the Bible and Christ Jesus’ ministry.” The by-laws also encourage moral and spiritual accountability, such as responding with truth in facing shortcomings, and practicing the Golden Rule.
Another member described how he turned to God for “spiritual renewal.” Christian Scientists believe that spiritual healing is not a miraculous occurrence, but the effect of coming into closer communion with a God of unchanging Love. He was soon healed of medically diagnosed acute and chronic kidney failure. He shared, “I was back to feeling like my true self again. The Christ, Truth, really does come to [us].”
The clerk welcomed new members from 30 countries, including Belgium, Haiti, Spain, Togo and Australia. The new Readers of The Mother Church, who will conduct in-person and online church services in Boston for the next three years, are Mimi Oka of New York City, and Don Wallingford of Atlanta, Ga. The church’s new president, Doris Ulich from Bamberg, Germany, was announced at the meeting.
Participants also had the opportunity to visit the new public exhibit at the Boston headquarters, “How Do You See the World?” The exhibit examines stories of genuine global progress, and shows how individuals have overcome challenges and found hope. The space also encourages visitors to reflect on this question and consider how each can broaden their service to humanity. “You can lose sight of global progress if you just look at the nightly news,” Board member Rich Evans remarked. “You come here, and get perspective. You can say, look at how far we have come.”
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Kevin Ness is the manager of Christian Science Committees on Publication worldwide for The First Church of Christ, Scientist