Week 56: "How can Reading Rooms more proactively reach out to the community?"

Response 1: Pamela Cook

To Mary Baker Eddy, the community included the whole world. Her outreach embraced all mankind. She dedicated her life’s work, Science and Health, to “honest seekers for Truth” (p. xii). A Christian Science Reading Room is a conduit for delivering Science and Health to a worldwide community of seekers.

Mrs. Eddy wrote, of Christian Science, “Every man and every woman would desire and demand it, if he and she knew its infinite value and firm basis” (Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896, p. 232). So, in considering the mission of our Reading Rooms, we might ask, “What can we do to make sure every man and woman knows the ‘infinite value and firm basis’ of Christian Science?” We might consider every proposed activity in the context of this goal.

One proactive step that has been successful in Reading Rooms is the addition of a prayer team. This ensures dedicated metaphysical support and provides an off-site opportunity for branch church members to serve in the Reading Room. The Reading Room attendant and prayer team member jointly serve that day, with the prayer team member giving a thorough Christian Science treatment to the Reading Room, much as a Christian Science practitioner handles a case. Reading Rooms with prayer teams have reported more community interaction and increased sales.

For Mrs. Eddy, the impetus for outreach of any kind was healing. Every step of progress was rooted in consistent, consecrated prayer. She didn’t make a move until God impelled her. We can follow our Leader’s example. Mrs. Eddy was a business woman; she expected her book to be profitable. She wrote of “having learned that the merits of Christian Science must be proven before a work on this subject could be profitably published” (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 35). As we become better healers, we inevitably see more active and profitable Reading Rooms.

Mrs. Eddy described the weekly Bible Lesson as “a lesson on which the prosperity of Christian Science largely depends” (Church Manual, p. 31). The prosperity of Christian Science is intrinsically linked to the prosperity of the Reading Room. When the Lesson is the focus of a Reading Room, it contributes to the prosperity of the community it serves.

In her 1901 address to The Mother Church, Mrs. Eddy wrote, “To my sense the Sermon on the Mount, read each Sunday without comment and obeyed throughout the week, would be enough for Christian practice” (Message for 1901, p. 11). Reading Rooms are reaching out to their communities by hosting weekly gatherings for this purpose—reading aloud the Sermon on the Mount without comment. Newcomers respond to this pure offering.

By definition, a Christian Science Reading Room cannot exist outside “the structure of Truth and Love” that is Church (see Science and Health, p. 583). Thus each Reading Room is safely sheltered under the wings of the Church Manual. Mary Baker Eddy gave us only 171 words governing Reading Rooms, leaving ample room for each branch church to find its own unique ways to reach out and “impress humanity with the genuine recognition of practical, operative Christian Science” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 207).

Response 2: John Rinnert

When thinking about the essential mission of a Reading Room it occurred to me that its purpose is to communicate the Word of God. The phrase “And God said…” is used ten times in the first chapter of the Bible and introduces God’s revelation of reality. What’s wonderful about this, is that the end result of God speaking is the absolute harmony and goodness of all: “And God saw every thing that He had made, and, behold, it was very good” (Genesis 1:31). Mary Baker Eddy likens divine Science to God’s Word. She writes in part, “The true Logos is demonstrably Christian Science, the natural law of harmony which overcomes discord” (Science and Health, p. 134). A Reading Room makes God’s pure word available to the public by offering and selling the published works of Mary Baker Eddy. Therefore the Reading Room is really offering to the public the opportunity for harmony and goodness to be experienced on a scientific basis rather than by chance or circumstance.

As the husband of a graphic designer, I have learned that marketing is pretty important. I’ve also learned that there are almost an infinite number of ways an individual or business can market itself. And so a Reading Room might produce some flyers, beautify its window display, host a lecture or Bible study group, or set up a Twitter account. All of these things may have their place to help “get the word out there” but the Bible cautions, “my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord” (Isa. 55:8). The real success of Reading Rooms comes when we discover that God’s Word has within itself its own method of marketing. Marketing is a helpful tool to reach people but healing prayer—and the Word of God—are vital to the Reading Room’s spiritual growth and purpose.

To me this fact is illustrated through the idea of fruit and fruitfulness. By studying this concept in Scripture, we discover that “fruitfulness” has little to do with procreation but has more to do with the fruits of Christ-healing. This makes even more sense through the lens of Jesus’ parable of the Sower and seed (see Luke 8:5-8) and how he makes the connection between God’s Word and the seed. How does a seed spread itself? Not by going on Facebook but by encasing itself in the naturally sweet and attractive fruit. It is the fruit of healing healing that will spread God’s Word and promote the cause of Christian Science through its churches, lectures, and Reading Rooms.

In Mrs. Eddy’s time Christian Science grew exponentially because of its healing power and there is no reason for this divine operation to change in our own time. Jesus said, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). This light of spiritual growth and Christian healing overcomes all obstacles of resistance and is universally marketable.

  1. I've been a reading room manager (the Manual calls this position at The Mother Church "The individuals who take charge")for both a large church with a downtown strip mall location and a small church with a room inside the church building, and in both cases, I gave a lot of thought to Mrs. Eddy's desire that the RR be "well located." In her day, that meant close to the car (trolley) stops, even if the RR was on the 2nd or 3rd floor of a hotel or other building. Today, I think "well located" means the Internet, no matter where the physical location is. If every church and RR also had a web site, in addition to the local site, perhaps CSPS could set them up with links to large sellers like Amazon so that the RR's would get "credit" (including remuneration) for sales of items which are not physically carried in the RR (especially Bibles.) I would love to support CSPS and the RR with every Bible purchase I make, even if the RR doesn't stock the inventory. My dream is to see thousands of "well located" RR's on the Internet with daily sales through this amazing tool, 24 hours a day, whether the physical location is open or not...

  2. So glad to see that "This Week's Question" is "back in business". I have really missed these lively forums. I'm sure that many of the "regulars" also feel the same way.

    I would like to second Linda B's very interesting suggestion that the local reading rooms create an internet presence. Do any local reading rooms currently have that kind of thing?

    With more of an internet presence, this would counteract a problem faced by many branch churches/societies: due to increased real estate costs, it is becoming more difficult for many branches facing declining revenues to maintain a first floor downtown reading room. Many branches are being forced by financial circumstances to relocate their reading room back into the church edifice, where it is less likely that a newcomer would be apt to "wander" in.

    I would be very interested in hearing others thoughts on this situation.

  3. It is each church's unfoldment as to where the Reading Room should be located. Christ Jesus taught by the wayside, from a boat, on a mount, in the temple so the Christ Truth is not limited to a specific location and the Reading Room is the activity of the Christ in the community. One branch church in which I was a member located its Reading Room in a shopping center and another in a building separate from the church but in the center of town. Both reach newcomers. In both cases members invited the surrounding community into the Reading Room through mailings, through gifts of the Monitor or Sentinel, or by personal invitatin. Sometimes just walking through the business district offering free copies of the Monitor or Sentinel which had a written or printed invitation to visit the Reading Room and the Church as well attached. Sometimes mailing a Sentinel or Monitor to a specific group when the focus was on a topic the group would be interested in, ie business to the business community, education to teachers, finances to everyone, family to counselors and so on. Each activity was of course supported metaphysically and with each activity we expected healing for each individual we invited. We have had visitors come who said they had at one time attended the Sunday school , or they had a relative who was a member or a neighbor who said they always wondered what our Reading Room was about. Students were delighted to find the resources we offered for their study. We have so much to offer we just can't keep quiet about it.We must "spread the word"!

  4. Location, location, location. Where is Reading Room located in our thought and the thought of the community?
    I think of Reading Room as the hottest location in town, a summit of inspiration where a feast of soul is on offer and the Christ Truth is the ultimate attraction.
    When the people located Christ Jesus they said to him according to many modern translations of Mark 1: 37 - 'Everyone is looking for you.'

  5. There certainly is a need for progress in this area.

    Growing use of the Internet, including increased activity by The Mother Church in its outreach to the world via Internet communications, has provided an inexpensive and effective way of reaching a world-wide audience.

    In this web-based age, the challenge for a local Reading Room to meet the needs of its community by means of a walk-in presence is not an easy one.

    The suggestion made by Pam Cook in her article above -- formation of a prayer team that meets in the Reading Room -- is a good one.

    In my view, service in the Reading Room by all active members of a Christian Science church could be a most helpful way to improve Reading Room activity, and promote use of its resources.

  6. Just as we don't sit in our homes and wait for people to knock on our door and ask to get to know us, but instead we are usually out working, shopping, teaching, volunteering, etc. in the community, meeting people naturally through normal daily activity, perhaps if we are working as a reading room attendant we could come a little early more often and meet and take time to chat with those in buildings or offices neighboring our physical Reading Room location on a more regular basis. Meet the people that work near your Reading Room, see what their needs are, share literature appropriate for their need, and invite them to visit us in our Reading Room.

    One day last fall while I was a substitute attendant in our Reading Room it dawned on me that our Reading Room shared a parking lot with a probabtion office next door which I had never really noticed before being somewhat new to the area. There was a steady stream of cars and people next door all day. There was a recent Monitor in the Reading Room on the topic of jobs needed in today's economy. I figured many people on probation might be looking for jobs. When my shift at the Reading Room was up, I walked next door, introduced myself as working in the "Christian Science Reading Room next door" and asked if they would like a copy of this Monitor for their waiting room. (I noticed when I walked in that there were no magazines and nothing at all to read.) I showed the woman at the check in desk the featured article on jobs. She welcomed the Monitor and said yes, they would be happy to make it available in their waiting area.

    There might be other neighboring shops or offices near your Reading Room that might like to meet you and know about the Reading Room. The Reading Room has something for everyone, so if we really know our "neighbors", (literally and figuratively) around our Reading Room we can better meet their need which will help them to feel comfortable in dropping by our Reading Room. After all, you are more likely to drop by a "friend's home" than a stranger's!

    Prayer, humble listening, the desire to love more, being pro-active instead of passive, willingness and courage to act on the ideas God reveals to us will bring us fresh ideas on how to better share our Reading Room with others, blessing the communities we are located in and blooming wherever we are planted!

  7. Would someone like to define a "successful Reading Room"? And then provide an example of such a one, including the details of its success, as well as related financial matters and S&H sales? My expectation, based on MBE's very few mentions of RR's, is that her purpose was to get her books out to the public through what was then high-end publishers' technology---Reading Rooms. But my experience with a variety of RR's over the past six decades suggests we're not at all accomplishing her mission. But maybe there are exceptions? If so, we should share, share, share whatever concrete, sustained examples there may be.

  8. There is this tendency by Christian Scientists to speak and act in concepts that are beyond their demonstration. Yes, we can take every aspect of every situation and translate it into it's spiritual interpretation. This is the ultimate goal but there are often practical intermediary steps. When Eddy said that reading rooms should be "well located" we can take this metaphorically (spiritually) or literally or both. Would we locate a reading room in an obscure, isolated, inconvenint place with no windows or lighting? Isn't human or physical marketing involved to counteract this poor choice? There is much that can be done from a more human level. If we don't cherish and appreciate the human structure what makes us think we can cherish and appreciate the spiritual concept of Reading Room, for example. Eddy made this point to Martha Wilcox "that unless I was faithful and orderly with the objects of sense (unrighteous mammon, see Luke) that make up my present mode of consciousness there would never be revealed to me the truer riches or progressive higher revealments of substance and things...and all right useful things that I had been calling 'the unrighteous mammon' were mental and represented spiritual ideas". So let's cherish the colorful window displays, the drinks offered visitors and all the other creative ideas expressed by our church members. In Persistent Pilgrim the author states "Mrs Eddy was continually looking for new ways in which to engage the public's interest in her discovery".

  9. We have made copies of children articles from years past, and punch a hole in each copy, thread with a ribbon and place it in a yellow basket in front of our Reading Room.
    We get many pedestrians that go through this offering and many of them are very young folk wanting something too.
    We do not sell the copies, due to copyright law.
    We also have on hand a copy of The Tenets and Core Beliefs that have proved helpful when inquirers come in. They serve to focus questions from the visitor.

  10. Though I am far from being fully tech-savy, I do use the Internet a lot in my profession as a fiction author. Writers and publishers today are accepting this steadily opening promotion arena as of primary importance in making sales of both print and e-books.

    That experience alone makes me open to the idea of Internet sites and outreach for Reading Rooms. It's where people communicate with each other today, and The Mother Church and CSPS are certainly moving forward rapidly to meet them where they are. As comfortable as I still am with reading print on paper, I also applaud the fact that (for example) a growing number of publications are available via the Internet, and some of them only available that way.

    Therefore, I think a terrific web site and other Internet avenues are "where it's at" for today's Reading Room. (Insofar as that's possible for a church.) Yes, there are challenges, and I've faced many of them in my own work. However, I learned long ago that "tekkies" to create web sites and other communication venues can be hired fairly reasonably. One help source many churches have right at hand would be Sunday School pupils. They'll undoubtedly be fluent in Internet skills if church-going adults aren't.

    That's not to say building-set locations for a Reading Room aren't important and comfortable for many. In my business world, brick and mortar bookstores have been struggling, as most of you know, but now smaller independents and some larger chains are finding new enthusiasm and new customers as they adapt to today's life rhythms and patterns.

    For an example of a Reading Room on the 'net, visit http://www.practicalprayer.org. (Also works as practicalprayer.com.) (We also have an in-church Reading Room location.)

  11. In our community over 100 languages are spoken. We have a small active Reading Room. Right on the corner of the main street through town and street to the Library, we are very visible with huge windows both directions. It is a pretty location with benches out front, gorgeous flower beds and across from two small parks.

    When I serve there is always a spiritual blessing. If no one comes in or buys something every day, effective prayer is immediately given. For example, it had been a couple days with no activity. After serving a full shift from 10-3, I stayed and addressed the lie of inactivity full blast. At 4:30 there was a knock on the door and someone came in and studied for an hour. The flow continued into the days following.

    Prayer is always effective. We sell and give away quite a few Science and Healths and Bibles. The free literature box is usually very active. We are always praying that our wonderful Periodicals find a home. Articles are blown up in the window and people often read them from outside. Windows are for healing, not only for selling. There are infinite ideas that could be implemented.

    People of all nationalities come in. A Hispanic mother came regularly with her children who listened to RR CD's or looked at books while we talked. When her next baby was due she wanted a Christian Scientist to come to the hospital with her. There have been visitors from all over the US and from China, India, Ghana, Japan, etc.

    Recently a dear man, a retired environmental biologist/ engineer with his books in the Library of Congress came in and wanted to know what we had to help youth. He was so interested in addressing the problems of youth through nature topics combined with Christian ethics. We ended up plotting an interfaith group which could meet in the RR after hours and deal with this issue. We have had church Bible study groups after hours in the RR. I feel more could be done in this area that would include the community.

    A man was healed of melanoma cancer after coming into the RR and being introduced to Christian Science. Another was healed of a serious knee problem while studying in the RR. A few who have been in and out of prison love the RR and frequently come in to chat. A young man about to go to trial came in and spent half an hour vehemently praying aloud in our study room. A lawyer prays there frequently, as the Justice Center is near. A woman whose grandson was a star soccer player had mononucleosis and couldn't play in the championship game. She came in and we shared truths. The next week she came back to say her nephew had been healed and won the game for his team. Many come in regularly to chat, study and further their understanding of Christian Science. These are just a very few examples that are ongoing.

    I suppose there are different ideas as to what the Reading Room is and how to run it. I love new ideas. I don't like self-righteousness. I love being fearless, kind and inclusive. I don't like the RR to feel sterile, too prim and proper or like a private club. To me, the RR belongs to the community. It is theirs as a gift from God. So, in my thought it is a big happy living room where family members can come in and be themselves, catch their breaths, work on projects and feel loved and supported.

    Everyone has the Truth already, so when they come to the RR they are coming to share what they already know and love. They are coming home. It seems so natural to see everyone that way and love them so much.

    I urge us all to go forward without fear, but, to pray diligently for ourselves every day. Mrs. Eddy requested some of the students to pray daily 3 to 4 hours specifically for themselves. Wise activity will follow as limits and impossibilities fall away.

    I love this part on Reading Room's from Julia Johnson's, "Mary Baker Eddy: Her Mission and Triumph."
    "The second auxiliary was the Reading Room...where Bible classes, evening conversations, addresses, and the answering of questions about Christian Science healing were carried on. Patients were treated and literature was distributed...Well did the Founder of Christian Science realize that the vision of Truth would be of slight avail without adequate and acceptable presentation to the people. Divine wisdom welded into one the revelation, her love for humanity, and her perspicacity, until no weak place was left in the structure of the movement."
    pg 144-145

  12. Excuse me, that was Julia Johnston.

  13. As a first reader, I roiled at the announcement from the desk that "invited" individuals who wanted a "quiet place to study and learn" to visit the RR. In today's world, many people are multitasking while they are studying and learning. I changed the announcement to "if you would like a noisy, active place to study and learn", the RR is the place for you.

    Also,dividers, whether glass or solid, placed in RRs to provide places for quiet study, often act as barriers that are cold and not inviting people to go in.

    I, too, like the idea of the internet, skype, or other media, but not instead of brick and mortar RRs, but in addition to them.

  14. Reading about posting information about our reading room on internet has been inspiring.

  15. One needn't look far to see what a successful Room-in-Which-One-Reads looks like: the surviving bookstores have comfy chairs, food, and some bustle. To the extent that our RRms are usually deserted, our sites are advertisements for ... what? If you go by a restaurant with big windows and it's empty what do you surmise?

    I've been a big-city RRm chair and have served many hours there and in the U.S. burbs and nowadays I'd lean toward 'net presence, and there are plenty of CSRR examples already online.

    When CSPS will offer all back-articles from the periodicals online -- who can predict? To me it's obvious that whatever RR traffic or sales decline such a move would entail would be more than offset by newcomers able to really rocket through the accrued treasure these periodicals hold. Click, click, gimme all the "diabetes" mentions -- not just titles! Let me read the articles in bed or in the hospital or on my phone. We have this gift -- let's give it ! What a boon to Readers and SS teachers too.

    I am also convinced that the Sisyphan operations most RRms have become keeps potential members from joining who prefer to avoid the antiquated ways of doing things.

    And if a branch must have a RRm, by all means have a waterprof keyboard outside so passersby can have an interactive look at what CS is about. The passive stuff doesn't cut it anymore, esp for esoteric religion.

    A branch might start with a simple quick survey of people who walk by the RRm, asking what they think goes on inside. That will be an eye-opener. RRms should lead with healings, big-type, maybe on large screens 24/7 The RRm as a solution store. Otherwise, we're "preaching to the choir," eh?

    And thank you Linda B of St Louis for your comments, esp, @ #1 above.

  16. ......willingness to follow-through with the ideas God is giving us......is key. It made me think.

    Thanks for the thoughtful comments and love that I "heard" in all the comments.

  17. We held a Church Summit and I had to lead a session on Reading Rooms.
    The following take on 1Corinthians 13 came out of it. Seems right to repeat it here.

    'Though we have a professionally designed Reading Room interior and stunning graphics in the window displays and have not love we might as well be a fish and chip shop or a local café. Though we have a modern ambience, a warm spacious Reading Room with comfy sofas and warm drinks when needed, and yet we have no love, we might as well be Starbucks or McDonalds. And though we have shelves full of books, racks full of magazines and Internet access to a world of information, wisdom, prophecy, and mountain moving communications and have not love, we are become as iTunes without the tunes or a CD without a player. And though we are open 24/7 and increase our sales monthly, and yet have no love for our community, there is no profit to give to the church.

    Love in our Reading room is expressed in patience, kindness, understanding, courage, encouraging cuddles, or cups of cold water. Our work is Love made visible. Our Reading Room workers rejoice in the truth and persevere without a credit card, hoping all things (it has taken six months to obtain a credit card for our Reading Room). Our love for this outreach activity will never fail, and when our perfect model Reading Room is come and carved out, we will have done our part. And now abides our 21st Century, high tech., vibrant, ever unfolding, on the ball with the game Reading Room, but the greatest part is its heart of love for God, and all mankind.”

  18. Hi WhatMeWorry (#15),

    To respond to one of your questions about online availability of past periodicals, there's some good news there! The Journal, Sentinel, and Herald are preparing for their web-first transition as I type. You can get more information about the transition to JSH-Online from an article by John Sparkman (Managing Publisher for the Journal/Sentinel/Herald) in the January Journal-- it's called "Next Tuesday, a Year from Now--Is 90 Days Away.

    There's more information in the article, but briefly to answer your question, JSH-Online is expected to launch in March 2012. The online subscription will not only include new JSH content, but also access to digital "bound volumes" so you can search for past articles. Should be a great resource!

    Church Alive Team

  19. I'm all for computer presence. But, the "one on one" still seems important and relevant for meeting individual needs and questions, encouraging individual healing and for sharing qualities of the heart. Such warming Christlike practices of true community are certainly eternal. I resist attitudes of either, 'I don't have time for you' or 'I could care less about you' that sometimes try to prevail in society. A localized Reading Room genuinely demonstrating divine Love counteracts this coldness.

  20. How inspiring everyone's responses have been. The RR will always be a challenge, an ever changing process since it represents how we communicate and respond to our everchanging community's needs. We have found the move to a busier part of our downtown has reaped a busier RR. We have interacted with activities designed for the downtown merchants to promote business for our area - Art Beat, Fairs, MLK Day, President's Day, First Friday Days. We provide hot chocolate and cookies at Christmas time for those who enter, etc. We have taken very active roles in these and non active roles depending on funds, volunteers and themes appropriate for what we have to offer our community. We have a RR Letter distributed to all the local merchants and other e-mail nonCS contacts. We have a Church Newsletter and we're doing interviews of the surrounding businesses to meet them, understand our participation in the downtown, and to give them reflective questions on their goals for the future of their business and how they got to where they are now. The interview is edited and added to our Church Newsletter so our membership can patronize and be familiar with the surrounding businesses. It also helps promote the downtown with our congregation. The manager of the business is then given a free 6 months subscription to our Monitor. We have held nondenominational prayer meetings on world issues taken from The MOnitor and our community newspaper for several years, readings of MBE's works, community URC meetings periodically as well as other organizations meeting at our RR, and now we have been hosting for several years a nondenominational Bible study. The more prayer given to our RR by our congregation, the better sales we have and the greater the attendance in and out of seekers. Not everyone in our congregation agrees with our RR and we've lost a few members because of it. I appreciate #1, #8, and #11's comments and experiences. Truth doesn't change. Neither does S&H but the face of how it is presented to the public and how we may think it should be will forever be changing. We have a big issue on the horizon of the affordability of our RR in its present location as well as maintaining our church building's needs. Many feel they'd rather keep the RR and hold church in it while others would rather move the RR to the church. We are all being called to pray over this "belief of affordability and resources". Eddy started out with nothing but her conviction and commitment to God. That is what we have too. When we get our conviction and commitment in order. the way will open up step-by-step. The mortal view always wants an answer NOW and security for the future, but I think TRUST in God's plan involves the ability to watch the Christ plan take unfoldment with us cheering along the sidelines and moving with it ready for the next unexpected, spontaneous presentation of the divine. I think our RR's are like that. In our RR we've developed lots of relationships with the homeless, mentally challenged, strangers, seekers, skeptics, those who pop in and out. Those relationships are graces of warmth and care and cherishing. I think that's a part of the divine plan. Thanks for all the great ideas.

  21. The comments so far have been very interesting and there have been several solid ideas on how to make progress with the local RRs.

    However, I especially enjoyed this comment by WhatmeWorry:
    "One needn’t look far to see what a successful Room-in-Which-One-Reads looks like: the surviving bookstores have comfy chairs, food, and some bustle. To the extent that our RRms are usually deserted, our sites are advertisements for … what? If you go by a restaurant with big windows and it’s empty what do you surmise?

    I have to agree with this assessment. Most times when I have visited RRs in my area, I have been the solitary visitor at the time. I think that the idea of having extra activities in the RR such as Bible studies, discussion groups, etc. is an excellent way to give the passerby the feeling that there is some degree of activity in the RR.

    One side point. Over the past few years, as branches have continued to sell off their large (and often very empty) buildings, increasingly, some of these churches have moved their services into their RR. At first, I saw this as an evidence of further decline, but now I am not so sure but that it might be a kind of forward step, so to speak. The nature of the CS service, in some respects, lends itself to the idea of meeting in an informal, small space such as the RR. And often, if the RR is in a downtown location, it has much more foot traffic than would usually be the case with the church building. An interesting thought!

  22. Does anyone know of a church that has a mobile reading room? It could have a weekly or daily schedule of locations where people could visit and it would be a traveling billboard enroute to various sites. This must have been tried somewhere. I'd like to know how it worked.

  23. Wonderful free ideas....exciting to see "out of the box" ideas for the RR. I especially love the quote from Julia Johnston's biography re RR's in Mrs. Eddy's day. " Bible class, conversations, etc." Now I have some "ammunition" with our membership for breaking free of this idea that the RR has to be a "quiet place" for study and prayer 24/7. And loved #17, the "redo" of I Cor 13. That is brilliant. I am going to print it out and frame it and present it to our RR as a gift! Perfect!!!! Love the mobile RR idea too.

  24. What is the single most important retail space in your town or city?

    It is the Reading Room. It feeds the hungry far better than your grocery store or restaurant; clothes us in our right Mind better than drugs; shelters us in the house of God; heals better than any hospital, drug store, or alternative therapy; educates better than any other book store or library; exercises both body and soul better than the gym, pilates, or yoga; comforts better than massage, counseling, or psychotherapy; releases from addiction better than nicotine patches or support groups; and erases the need for adult book stores; and entertains thought better than a movie, theatre, or concert.

    Everyone needs what's in the Reading Room for everything they do. Online is great, but you will notice that much of what is listed isn't something people look for online. Reading Rooms should be at the forefront of retail activity in town.

  25. WOW Karen! I am right with you. Thanks for sharing.

  26. Dear Questioner,
    Thank you so much for bringing this topic to our attention for discussion. Your church is beginning rightly (thinking) and will surely end rightly. And look at all the responses already!
    Dear Bob #7,
    Yes, there is a very successful Reading Room in Boston known as The Mother Church Reading Room. Why not contact the Librarian/ Manager, Margee Lyon, about all your posted questions. I get their monthly reports regularly online and just love reading them and passing them on, especially to friends where there is no church or RR.
    Dear Pamela,
    Thanks for including the Prayer Team idea in your introductory remarks. I have served in that capacity for years and love the work. Michael Pabst has pointed out that in his years as a lecturer he knew how churches actively supported lectures, these public talks, with their prayers. He called our attention to the fact that our public RRs need the same kind of consistent prayerful membership support. There may be special needs on any day, but the daily thoughtful preparation of thought and the promotion of the RR mission is essential. Since Christian Healing is the babe we cherish, we also cherish this nursery.

  27. Maybe the Sentinel editor will do a story one day in which people contribute anecdotes about what a reading room has meant to them over the years. I'm sure there are plenty of us who have found a Reading Room to be a place of great inspiration and comfort in times of need!
    I think it's important that church members support their RR with their presence at least once a month even if it's only for a half hour.

  28. I was not certain that my comment would go through. It did, so this is what I have to say. I love having Reading Rooms to go to in person and talk to the wonderful ones that work there and help you. I had been in a seemingly accident, dislocated shoulder, and broken tail bone. I could hardly walk, but I had a young son who wanted to go to a parade downtown. In pain I took him, I passed by a Reading Room that had free Sentinals and Journals outside. I took 2 and read them that day. As I read,my pain left! I was healed! I have even sent this healing to the Mother Church and it was published. If it had not been for that Reading Room, I never would have heard of Christian Science. I have had class instruction, and my family loves Christian Science and have been healed. So, really it not only affected me but others. People that know about C.S. can benefit from the internet. How will the others that do not know about it benefit? There are several mentions of people walking into Reading Rooms and were healed....Let's think about all the others. Thank You!