Report on meeting 17th November 2015
A talk by Sally Lessiter on Mary Baker Eddy, founder of Christian Science
Sally Lessiter from Oxford spoke about the life of Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910) and the beliefs of Christian Science. The title of her major book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (1875) gives the clue to the understanding of Christianity, which she promoted: an interpretation of the Bible with healing at its centre. Like the Quakers and the Salvation Army, the Church she founded has no clergy, sacraments or ritual, though it does support full-time Christian Science practitioners and nurses who treat patients through prayer and physical care. Mrs Eddy ordained the Bible and her book Science and Health to be the ‘Pastor’ of the Church, and passages from both books are read on Sundays and studied by members, who refer to themselves as students of Christian Science.
After a detailed account of Mary Baker Eddy’s life in 19th century America, Sally responded to questions and comments. These focused on the relationship between the Christian Science concept of healing and conventional medical treatment, and on questions of matter and spirit. Christian Scientists do not see God as Trinity, and, as stated by Mrs Eddy in Science and Health, “take the inspired Word of the Bible” as their “sufficient guide to eternal Life.”
The Christian Science Mother Church is in Boston, Massachusetts, and the Church’s website is www.christianscience.com
Some key dates in Mary Baker Eddy's life:
1821 Born in Bow, New Hampshire USA
1843 Marries George Glover, who dies a year later, leaving her expecting a baby
1853 Marries Daniel Patterson, who proves unfaithful. Years of poor health.
1866 A severe fall on ice leaves her gravely injured and expected to die
1866 Healed through new insight into Jesus' teachings from reading her Bible
1866 to 1875 Intensive study of the Bible and the beginning of her healing practice
1875 Publishes the first edition of ‘Science and Health’, her seminal work
1877 Marries Asa Gilbert Eddy
1879 Together with her students forms the Christian Science Church, “to commemorate the word and works of our Master, which should reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing.”
1881 Opens the Massachusetts Metaphysical College to teach Christian Science healing
1883 Begins publication of The Christian Science Journal - a monthly magazine
1892 Reorganizes the Church as The First Church of Christ, Scientist
1894 Builds The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston
1895 to 1898 Writes the Manual of the Mother Church (its governing document) and establishes the church infrastructure including its publishing arm, provision for public lectures, method of teaching, and the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine.
1906 Builds a much larger church adjacent to original Mother Church
1908 Establishes The Christian Science Monitor, a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper
1910 Dies aged 89