In 1866, Mary Baker Eddy was healed of an injury that neither medicine nor surgery had been able to help. In fact, she was on her deathbed when one final act saved her life: calling out for her Bible. As soon as she had it, she began to read about Jesus healing a sick man, in Matthew 9:2. Suddenly, she found she was feeling much better, and even able to get up.
She called this event her “Great Discovery”, which led to her “discovery of how to be well” (Retrospection and Introspection by Mary Baker Eddy). She spent the next three years studying the Bible, experimenting, and praying. She wanted to find out if the experience could be repeated, and whether there were empirical laws governing it. She found there were. Soon, she was healing other people, and those in trouble began to call on her when medicine couldn’t help them. She gave what she discovered the name ‘Christian Science’.
One of the doctors who saw her helping people urged her to write about her experiences, and so she began her main work explaining her system of Christian healing. Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures became a way for her to pass on her methods to new students, and eventually they were able to heal people, too. These readers of Mrs Eddy’s book gathered into an organisation and gradually developed into a Church, with Mary Baker Eddy as Leader and Pastor Emeritus. Following this, Mrs Eddy soon dedicated the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures to serve as Pastor to the church and, still today, the weekly Lesson Sermons continue to consist solely of readings from both these books.
Nowadays, The Church of Christ, Scientist, includes around 1,850 branch Churches of Christ, Scientist and Christian Science Societies. These are based in over 80 countries around the world. What’s more, there are several hundred groups of Christian Scientists in 130 countries, who are not allied with any particular branch, and who hold informal services from time to time.
Everyone’s invited to attend Church services and Christian Science lectures, and to visit the Christian Science Reading Rooms, anywhere in the world. Young people up to the age of 20 are also welcome at Sunday School.
These branches were all established as a result of the success of The First Church of Christ, Scientist (you’ll often hear this called The Christian Science Center). It is also known as The Mother Church, and it’s the administrative headquarters of the whole organisation. If you ever visit Back Bay neighbourhood in Boston, U.S.A., be sure to go see it - it’s certainly worth it. The church itself was built in the 1890s, and now adjoins the much larger domed extension which was added just after the turn of the 20th Century. If you don’t spot it from a distance, you’ll probably hear it - it boasts one of the world’s largest pipe organs, built in the 1950s. Nearby, you’ll find the 11-story building finished in the 1930s which provides the home for The Christian Science Publishing Society. Inside, it has a three-storey tall stained glass globe, called the Mapparium through which visitors can walk. The building is also home to The Christian Science Monitor (the international newspaper) and The Mary Eddy Baker Library. Altogether, these buildings give the Christian Science plaza on Huntington Avenue huge renown, and the spot is instantly recognisable to visitors. In fact thanks to its architecture, along with the Plaza’s Reflecting Pool and fountain, it’s one of Bostons most compelling attractions.
In terms of how we run our organisation, The Christian Science Board of Directors is a five-person executive entity created by the founder, Mary Baker Eddy, to administer the Christian Science Church. It’s governed under the terms defined in her version of a church constitution, called the Church Manual. This provides the guidelines for the overall structure of the Church. Branch churches are run democratically by its members.
The Scientific Statement of Being is a fundamental axiom of Christian Science. It explains the spiritual nature of man, which is central to our beliefs. It’s read aloud in churches (along with I John 3:1-3) and in Sunday schools at the end of every Sunday service:
“There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter. All is infinite Mind and its infinite manifestation, for God is All-in-all. Spirit is immortal Truth; matter is mortal error. Spirit is the real and eternal; matter is the unreal and temporal. Spirit is God, and man is His image and likeness. Therefore man is not material; he is spiritual.”
From Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, page 468: 8-15.
From Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, page 497: 3-29.