By: Kevin Ness
Boston, MA — In today’s culture of political divisions and religious strife, Christian Scientists spoke at their church’s annual meeting of “a new spirit” emerging, which is calling forth the best in people across denominational and national lines.
In an interview, the chair of the denomination’s board of directors, Allison Phinney, pointed to the simplest of signs seen at a nearby Methodist church in Boston’s South End: “God is Love.” “You are Loved.” “Justice.” Said Phinney: “Materialism doesn’t satisfy. It is Spirit, God, that brings us into newness of life, shifting thought, revealing the power of church.”
“Newness of life”—a Biblical expression—was integral to this year’s meeting. The theme, “Let us feel the divine energy of Spirit, bringing us into newness of life,” came from the denomination’s textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by church founder Mary Baker Eddy. The meeting took stock of the challenges as well as the promise facing many Christian denominations in this period.
These very challenges have prompted many to look to their core values as people of faith, the board emphasized. In these core values is the power that renews individual lives and revitalizes churches and society as a whole.
There’s an awakening, Phinney said, to the fact that “we have to work together, that it requires the practical Christianity, which Christian Scientists would term healing, so evident in the life and love of Christ Jesus.” It is bringing out “a new spirit of joy and healing at work in our own movement right as communities around the world are searching for deeper answers to human needs.”
The recent launch of a daily digital edition of the 109-year-old Christian Science Monitor is one result of this deeper look at core values. According to church officials, it represents a modest new beginning, focusing less on the number of Internet hits and more on the Monitor’s basic ideal of healing and impartial journalism. “We’re seeing ever stronger demands for just treatment of all the members of human society,” Phinney noted, “and we know it is Spirit, God, the divine influence and energy, that is touching the heart of humanity.”
The new church president introduced at the meeting, Irmela Wigger of Hamburg, Germany, is a Christian Science practitioner and teacher active in the ministry of spiritual healing. Following a tragic incident of violence in her family some years ago, her church family brought her through. “Church is about serving God,” she said, “and from this serving we get a pouring out of Love—God’s love—you can’t imagine.”
According to the church’s clerk, Suzanne Riedel, new members joined the church from 29 countries, including Australia, Chile, Democratic Republic of Congo, Indonesia, Mauritania, Mexico, Portugal, Togo, Uruguay and Zimbabwe, as well as the United Kingdom and United States. The meeting included reports of healing as well as church progress.
Founded 138 years ago, the Church of Christ, Scientist, is a Christian denomination based on the Bible. The use of the term “Science” refers to what Mary Baker Eddy saw as the spiritual laws of God as understood and demonstrated by Jesus. Members come from all walks of life and backgrounds, including the physical sciences. Said board member Rich Evans, “We don’t equate serious spiritual commitment with ignorance or unreasonable belief.” The conclusions of the Christian Science founder “were untraditional in some respects, but she thought deeply about the relation between practical Christianity and demonstrated proof of God’s great love for humanity.”
Church officials noted that work continues on the renewal of the Christian Science plaza in Boston’s Back Bay. The outdoor spaces being improved around The Mother Church will better serve the community as an environmentally sustainable public haven in the midst of the city.