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Annual Meeting News 2023

Dear Editor:
With so many recent reports of churches and churchgoers in decline, I recently found fresh inspiration from attending the annual meeting of my denomination, the Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston. The Christian Science church has not been exempt from those same headwinds but the meeting left me filled with renewed hopes about the future of heart-driven organized religion.

   The deep spiritual insights of the Bible resonated throughout the weekend’s events that showed the transformative spirit and undiminished healing grace of the Christ power at the heart of Jesus’ teaching and ministry. From this foundation, members considered how to engage as spiritual pilgrims and community members in the face of apparent fading participation in organized religion in general. 
 

     Tackling head-on this common impression of decline and the connection between a revitalization of religion and that of society itself, Church Board member Keith Wommack related the inspiration of Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son. After wasting the inheritance from his Father, decline evident, everything lost, and little hope for gain, he “came to himself,” the Bible says. It was there, in abject penitence, that the toxic demand, “give me,” was replaced with the humble prayer, “make me.” “Make me as one of your hired servants.” Wommack then asked, “Are we believing that everything we have received of our Father [of God] is lost?  Are we demanding, ‘Father give us?’ Give us members for our churches and Sunday Schools. Or are we humbly praying, ‘Father, make us your humble servants?’”  Isn’t this then a call to service, for our families, our communities, and the world with more selfless love? As Wommack concluded, “We are made to love and be loved.” Another Board member, Mary Alice Rose added, “Caring for the local community is doing what the Bible says: ‘...ministering one to another as good stewards of the grace of God.’” Examples of this ministering included individual testimonies of physical and mental restoration — a transformed life for a former prison inmate, permanent healing of anxiety attacks, and new parents overcoming family challenges. Such tangible experiences are hopeful responses to society’s broader yearning to hold crime in check, provide better access to results-oriented healthcare, resolve divisions and conflict, and address mental health needs.

 

 

       This is the power of church for humanity and is especially relevant to all communities of faith. Mary Baker Eddy Eddy, the discoverer and founder of Christian Science, defines church in a spiritual way as the “…structure of Truth and Love” — the foundation of God’s strength, care, and protection. And because, as Jesus Christ has said, “The kingdom of God is within you,” there has been and can be no diminishment of the true church — this living transformative spirit within — even if the polls seem to suggest otherwise by pointing to a decline in the number of traditional churches, synagogues or mosques (or their members). Such data does not mean that society is any less hungry for spirituality, or that people are less likely to find prayer a solution to today’s challenges. 

       The world needs this assurance of God’s love found in the opportunity of joining together in worship. We all are part of this true mission of church, which affords us the privilege to do all we can to relieve the sufferings of humanity. Let us take to heart the assurance of Christ’s teachings and healings. And let us “go and do likewise” as we love God and love our neighbors. Our communities of worship really are making a difference for humanity. And that is cause for hope!

-Margaret Lewis

Wisconsin Christian Science Committee on Publication

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