Christian Scientists gather in Boston at denomination’s annual meeting; ponder the relevance of church

By:  Richard Evans, Manager, Christian Science Committees on Publication

Boston, MA — When Christian Scientists convened in Boston, Massachusetts, Monday, June 6, for the annual meeting of their denomination, they faced a question that many mainline Christian churches also confront: can church be relevant today?

CS church edifice with attribution

Their perspective on this question—as on just about everything else—runs counter to the popular narrative. “There’s a universal hunger for the heartfelt experience of God’s saving power,” said Margaret Rogers, chairwoman of the five-member lay board of directors of the Church of Christ, Scientist, which has its worldwide headquarters in Boston. “The demand,” she said, is for a church “that is vibrant with unselfed love and actively engaged in authentic Christian healing for humanity.”

For most Christian Scientists, this doesn’t seem to mean better outreach or new ministries and programs. It means drilling down on the thing they feel they bring to the world: spiritual healing, based on the teachings of Christ Jesus, that is expected to be both humane in spirit and effective in results. “We pray,” explained another director, Allison W. Phinney, “because prayer aligns us with how things really work. It lets us see and feel more of the immense good and the divine Love that’s actually here for us and for humanity.”

Founded 137 years ago by religious leader Mary Baker Eddy, the Christian Science Church is a Christian denomination based on the Bible. While relatively small in numbers, the denomination has branch churches in more than 60 countries and has had an outsized impact on Christian thought by its insistence that God’s goodness brings not only salvation from sin, but healing of illness and suffering.

The group’s diversity is seen among some of the new officers announced at the meeting. The new church president is Annu Matthai of Bangalore, India. The new First Reader—who conducts Sunday worship and Wednesday testimony meetings at The Mother Church in Boston—is Louis E. Benjamin of Hillcrest, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. The new Second Reader is Diane Uttley Marrapodi of Forest Hill, Maryland, USA. Many church members travelled to Boston for Monday’s proceedings, while more followed the meetings live online.

The theme of this year’s meeting—“Church: ‘healing and saving the world’”—comes from Mary Baker Eddy’s view that Christ Jesus’ original Christianity has deep relevance for the world and its future, and that church must be a practical force for good in daily lives, bringing hope and spiritual progress for humanity. One small symbol of this is the planned renewal of the Christian Science plaza in Boston’s Back Bay. The outdoor spaces surrounding The Mother Church will be updated to better benefit the community as an environmentally sustainable oasis in the midst of the city. A longer-term commitment of the denomination has been publication of The Christian Science Monitor, an international news outlet providing daily and weekly news, online and in print—news that is intended to bring light, rather than heat, to the important issues of the day.

Members at the meeting reported on activities in their regions, as well as provided examples of healing from around the world.

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Finding deeper meaning when asking, “Are green spaces healing spaces?”

Karla Hackney (Picture courtesy of Karla Hackney)
Karla Hackney (Picture courtesy of Karla Hackney)

Karla Hackney, writing in Hillsboro Patch in Oregon, probes how treks in green spaces can be more deeply healing.

The author really caught my attention when she referred to a friend’s pilgrimage in Spain on the Camino de Santiago trail.

Recently, I enjoyed watching a movie entitled, “The Way“, in which the main character, played by Martin Sheen, hikes this trail when he goes to Spain to claim the body of his estranged son, who was killed while hiking the same trail.

Houses on hillside in Spain (©Glowimages/stock photo)
Houses on hillside in Spain (©Glowimages/stock photo)

On this trail, Hackney’s friend finds deeper meaning in favorite Bible verses and with this comes freedom from infection and pain.  Hackney includes a link to a 7 minute audio account by her friend.

Another friend reached out “for a connection with God’s infinite love” while summiting Mount Washington.

Hackney says, “In hiking, the important part is to ‘summit,’ to get to that place where, in our heart, we rise above everyday challenges and we don’t allow information from the five physical senses to cloud the pinnacle of God’s beautiful, spiritual creation. We don’t have to locate ourselves in a forest before we can find spiritual peace!”

A touching and helpful article, worth reading.

To read it, click title: Are green spaces healing spaces?
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Experiencing resurrection step by step

Sunlit field with Resurrection quoteLife is a journey that doesn’t end with death.

This was one of the consensus views shared by some panelists while discussing choices in end-of-life care at the Mid-Michigan Health Spiritual Care Conference in January. One panelist even mentioned resurrection, which got me to thinking more deeply about the connection between resurrection and choices–not just at end-of-life, but choices made throughout daily life.

Before Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, he told Lazarus’ sister Martha, “Thy brother shall rise again.” Jesus said further, “…he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live.” (John 11:23-25)

What did Jesus mean by that? Was he implying that everyone who believes in Christ, or understands Jesus’ teachings, would experience a resurrection in some way? If so, then as radical as this may seem, ultimately, resurrection is for everyone. Maybe not exactly a return to life on earth as in the case of Lazarus, but perhaps in experiencing a new and more spiritual sense of life as immortal, without beginning or end – without death.

Perhaps it’s a little like graduating from school – usually, the culmination of much effort over many years. And this effort to become more aware of immortal being includes learning to make good choices – in how we think and act – on a daily basis. Moses said, “See, I have set before you this day life and good, and death and evil; … therefore choose life…” (Deuteronomy 30:15,19). He linked choosing good with choosing life.

One example of doing this, is not only to treat patients in end-of-life situations with dignity and compassion as the conference panelists advised, but to treat everyone with dignity and compassion throughout daily life. Choosing good can also include being honest, unselfish, and decent. Also, being patient and forgiving, and loving others unconditionally.

Christ Jesus’ life was a model of choosing good every moment. Was this why he was able to raise the dead? From his teachings, it is apparent that he knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that life – everyone’s life – is eternal. His death by crucifixion and subsequent resurrection proved this fact. And, for the great suffering and sacrifice he endured to give us this proof, I and many others are immensely grateful. Doesn’t it behoove us to make the most of it by following his example of consistently choosing good?

By making daily choices for good thoughts and actions, we’ll land in the group St. John called “they that have done good,” whom he said would “come forth . . . unto the resurrection of life.” (John 5:29) This continual choosing of good draws us closer to realizing life eternal.

Each choice for good, therefore, is essentially a step in that direction, and, in a way, a little bit of resurrection. And this can be done by all, gently, with grace, until – wherever and whenever – we come to see clear as day that life truly is eternal.

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A better solution to depression than a walk in the park

Wendy Margolese (Picture courtesy of Wendy Margolese)
Wendy Margolese (Picture courtesy of Wendy Margolese)

Health writer Wendy Margolese of Ontario, Canada, writing in SIMCOE News, says, “I am not saying that nature isn’t a wonderful experience, but I’m circumspect of health solutions that end up making me dependent on a person, a place or a potion.”

She offers a way to go further/higher and includes a wonderful example in which a woman used that approach and found freedom from Postpartum depression.

If you’re struggling with depression, you might find these ideas helpful.

Read her article here:
A better solution to depression than a walk in the park

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For Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

(Photo: Bob Cummings)
(Photo: Bob Cummings)

“On the night before his assassination, Martin Luther King said in a speech in Memphis, “We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop…”

Self-syndicated health columnist Tim Mitchinson in Illinois, writing on Fit for Life, applies this idea of a mountaintop view to taking a higher, broader view of freedom that includes freedom from disease – aka health!

A timely article I highly recommend: The mountaintop of health.

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Helpful spiritual perspectives for the new class of graduates

(©Glowimages/stock photo - models used for illustrative purposes only)
(©Glowimages/stock photo – models used for illustrative purposes only)

A new class of graduates is heading into summer and then very likely college or career. Here are two articles with some helpful ideas applying spiritual perspectives to this exciting time in their lives.

Do our graduates know how to love?

By Eric Nelson on Communities Digital News

Excerpts:

“In an era in which so many people slip off the rails during adolescence, we don’t have the luxury of ignoring a resource that, if cultivated, could see them through,” says columnist David Brooks. “Ignoring spiritual development in the public square is like ignoring intellectual, physical or social development.

Obviously the various facets of love described by Paul—patience, unselfishness, humility, courtesy and so on—aren’t restricted to a particular religious practice but can and should be utilized in every avenue of life, including academics, athletics, social situations, throughout college and even into the business world.

Are 2015 Grads Spiritually Prepared to Pass Life’s Tests?

By Ingrid Peschke on MetroWest Daily News

Excerpts:

When a graduation speech in rural Alabama produced a spontaneous prayer to a healing God I wanted to stand up and clap, too.

As graduates walk the stage and accept their diplomas, I hope they will consider their spiritual ability to be “right thinkers” by helping their neighbor, choosing honesty and integrity in their daily interactions, and looking to a Higher Power for truthful answers on life’s toughest tests.

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PTSD: Hopeful new treatment approach that looks beyond physical symptoms

120-CR64QQ-Soldier-holding-rifleVeterans suffering from PTSD deserve effective help.

“The need for non-drug treatment options is a significant and urgent public health imperative,” says NCCIH Director Josephine Briggs, MD.

Urgent, because the need for cure is growing, and also because conventional drug treatments aren’t working over the long haul.

This excerpt comes from a thoughtful and helpful Arlington, Virginia Patch article by Richard Geiger, who follows the VA’s search for non-drug PTSD treatment of symptoms.

Geiger looks at how the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) are focusing treatment on individuality.

He also looks at lessons learned from the experience of Col. (Ret) Janet Horton, a Christian Science U.S. Army Chaplain, one of the first female chaplains ever called into active duty. She found it unproductive to try to work directly with symptoms at all. Instead, she focused on the individual’s untouched spiritual identity.

This really is a “must read”:  PTSD Treatment: Symptoms or Souls?

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Guest post: Thinking of suicide? Take your troubles to God.

120-FEDRWLR4R Teen on stepsMy colleague Valerie Minard, writing in Collingswood Patch in New Jersey, shared some helpful ideas when dealing with suicidal thoughts.

Excerpts:

“But what about the teens who suffer in silence or are not ready to turn to a teen suicide prevention group or trusted adult? I can’t answer for others but in my case, I found my connection to the Divine was a life saver during a time when I felt there was no one in whom to confide.”

“The ideas that saved me went along these lines…”

  • “These negative thoughts are not your thoughts. They are lies about your worth and purpose for existing, and you don’t need to listen to them. The ideas God gives you are good. Destructive thoughts are not good. The Bible says, “‘For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the LORD. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope.’””

For more ideas, read the entire article: Thinking of suicide? Take your troubles to God.

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For Health’s Sake, Watch Your Mental Intake

120-Y9IL56J65J5-Glowimages-filling-a-gas-tankYou don’t put sugar in the gas tank of your car, right? And if your car takes “Regular”, you don’t put in ‘Diesel’.

As society becomes more aware that thought affects the body, it becomes clear that it is important for our health that we watch our mental intake.

Consider the following:

  • a 2014 study found that journalists viewing uncensored violent imagery are at increased risk of adverse psychological consequences.
  • “medical students’ disease”, in which 70-80% of medical students experience symptoms of the disease(s) they are studying.
  • Google’s new Knowledge Graph gives searchers medical facts and details on conditions and shows typical symptoms.

Heath reformer Mary Baker Eddy advises, “Stand porter at the door of thought. Admitting only such conclusions as you wish realized in bodily results, you will control yourself harmoniously.”

Watch your intake!

Note: this post first appeared on Ideapod

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Expectancy and Health

120-Y99J36Q5L3R-2-girl-and-a-horse-attribExpectancy, when it connects to the power of God, can do more than sustain us emotionally; it can help heal us physically.

Read more about how expectancy benefits health in my first post on a relatively new social media platform called IdeaPod: Expectation for Good Health.

To read the full-length version of this article published in The News-Herald: Click here.

And to read the Midland Daily News article cited, that contains Autumn Hampton’s wonderful story of recovery from a traumatic brain injury: Click here.

So shall the knowledge of wisdom be unto thy soul: when thou hast found it, then there shall be a reward, and thy expectation shall not be cut off.”~Proverbs 24:14 (KJV)

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"Trust God… Listen for God's voice… Run to God! Your body will glow with health…" ~Proverbs (The Message)