Gently encouraging healing

Practitioners in branches July Wahlberg

Photo by Katie Duntley

In college, I got to know a practitioner in my branch church. She was friendly, selfless, and inclusive of members and newcomers alike. I admired her obvious dedication to Christian Science. One day she asked if I’d stay after church to talk with her for a bit.  She surprised me by saying she wanted to give me a chance to ask her any questions I might have about the practice of Christian Science. The practice? I confessed that yes, I had occasionally given thought to the full time practice of spiritual healing, but at the time, I was ardently pursuing another career.

Still, I was touched that someone had noticed some spiritual yearning in me. We had a substantial talk that day, and her words of encouragement stuck with me over the next few years until I began taking cases myself and, ultimately, advertising my practice in the Journal. I’m glad she was there.

Of course, this practitioner wasn’t the only one at the branch who was healing herself and others.  And I’ve noticed that in Mary Baker Eddy's writings, when talking about healing work, she often refers simply to a “Christian Scientist” rather than a “Christian Science practitioner.” For example, she writes, “The Christian Scientist has enlisted to lessen evil, disease, and death; and he will overcome them by understanding their nothingness and the allness of God, or good” (Science and Health, p. 450). And, “If students do not readily heal themselves, they should early call an experienced Christian Scientist to aid them” (p. 420). With the expectation of reliable healing work already going on among the members, why might Eddy have included the provision that each branch church have a full-time practitioner?

It certainly isn’t to establish any kind of hierarchy within the church–practitioner’s votes don’t count double at business meetings or anything like that. But perhaps it has to do with the qualities that a practitioner brings to the branch. The Church Manual requires “ample time for faithful practice” (p. 82). Someone who spends much of his or her day in earnest, Christian prayer is necessarily cultivating and cherishing–living!–qualities that help a branch to thrive, like purity, discernment, wisdom, love, moral courage, high expectations, affection for others, and selflessness.

With the practitioner at my college branch, the fact that her full-time job was praying for others probably helped give her the discernment, moral courage, and spiritual authority needed to give me a gentle push. Out of all the loving, friendly members at this particular branch, she was the one that proactively supported my own budding practice–seeing its potential before I did. Her presence and example was a resource to visitors and an inspiration to members. The divinely-inspired energy she brought the branch showed us the potential any one of us had for healing, and we could then take that confidence out into the community. It wasn’t her “job” to inspire, encourage, or mentor her fellow branch church members, but that activity grew naturally and spontaneously out of her practice.

Some branches today find themselves without a full-time practitioner and are praying about this issue. Often the demand in cases like this is for everyone involved to spiritualize thought just a little bit more than the day before. To prayerfully, quietly appreciate the practice, potential, and availability of Christian healing today. When branch members individually and collectively do this, they may just find the next Journal-listing emerging from someone in their midst.           

This is the third blog in a series exploring the role of practitioners in branch churches, and the Manual provision that each branch church have a Journal-listed practitioner to organize.  To read other blogs in the series, click on the following links:
Answering the call: Practitioners in branch churches
The relationship of a healer to church progress
  1. Thanks for this Melanie.

  2. Beautiful ans so helpful, Melanie. Thank you!

  3. Sweet and true!

  4. Excellent article, Melanie. Gently emerging into the practice because of deep love for Christian healing....your article puts this all into proper perspective. A kind and encouraging word for all of us. Deep thanks.

  5. Thank you Melanie for this important and thoughtful article. It underscores and supports the wonderful practitioner roundtables that are happening around the world.

  6. You never fail to give inspiring ideas and experiences. Thank you, Melanie

  7. Melanie:

    These ideas and experiences certainly increase my need to be more receptive. Thank You!

  8. Thank You

  9. I like to keep an account of new ideas. Ideas or thoughts which are new to me and that perhaps I wasnt aware of yesterday. Today the idea came from you Melanie and its that Mrs Eddy said "its the Christian Scientist that has enlisted to lessen evil...etc. Not necessarily the practitioner but each and every one of us as a Christian Scientist. We are all practitioners in some degree or another working to see the unreality of evil, disease and death. So thank you.

  10. Thank you so much. That's so encouraging!

  11. This was a Good wake up call for me. I could see myself reflected in these words.

  12. It is beneficial to the C/S Church to have a Practitioner. They give full time to pray and work for the success of the Church in the area.

  13. Thank you Melanie
    Very sweetly put and so true !
    It is so important to see and encourage all the good potential there is in each one of Gods precious children big and little. Thanks again!

  14. Thank you Melanie for this lovely sharing!

  15. Thank you, Melanie,

    A dear friend in a branch church I attended as a member for more than 30 years had a profound affect on my development as a student of Christian Science. She was quiet, dedicated, loving, patient, humble yet very strong in her substantial role as church member and practitioner. She was also a Christian Science teacher (C.S.B.). She encouraged me and co-authored my very first Sentinel article. She was always there to answer any questions I might have, but her responses were never authoritarian or opinionated. They always allowed and encouraged me to search deeper and to find answers through Christian Science--within the Bible and Mrs. Eddy's writings. I recall her sitting quietly during business meetings and only giving oral counsel when it was requested--and that very seldom. Her modus operandi was simple; silent prayer. "Thy will be done" seemed to be her greatest strength in all things church. Her testimonies were always metaphysical rather than personal and were timed perfectly to address whatever the thought might be that needed adjusting or correcting at the time, but there was never preaching or grandstanding. Her verbal sharings were few and far between but always appropriate to the occasion. Yet in the 30+ years I was a member of that church and served in just about every capacity the church offered during that time, I don't recall any "church wars" or members taking opposing positions on issues or even bickering. Her work was for Church--never one of taking sides or chastising personalities, and it was powerful and effective. It was so gentle that it took me years to realize the monumental impact her presence had, and I still marvel at it today. And, I continually turn to her example as I try to pattern my own behavior (as church member and Christian Science practitioner) after her example. I will always be grateful for what she taught me--and continues to teach me far beyond those special years of our human association. The role of Christian Science practitioner is potentially magnificent in any branch church. It must never be underestimated or marginalized and must always be upheld by each church member--who is, in reality, that practitioner.

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