Response 1: Patricia Tupper Hyatt
Rotation in office is vital to the growth of a branch church. Each time a member assumes a new responsibility, he or she is forced to grow—and, as each member grows, the church grows.
The responsibility for moving members from one position to another belongs more to the church than to the individual member. It’s been my observation that if members are “holding on for dear life” to certain offices, they have already been left in those offices far too long! They may even have fallen for the temptation to “identify” with their positions, and this could lead to fear of losing one’s very worth if taken out of them! Through enforcing timely rotation in office, we protect one another from such needless concerns and prevent hurt feelings from the get go. We encourage spiritual progress all around.
Sometimes the problem is that no one else will accept a given position. It may seem daunting, especially if the one who has held it has done an exceptional job. In such a case, it’s comforting to consider that it’s something like moving into a new office in the workplace. You have demonstrated your readiness to work in that office, as evidenced by your being asked to do so. Yet, you don’t need to go to the time and effort to furnish it. It already has a desk, a computer, a printer and all that is needed to carry on the work. Isn’t it the same with taking on a new position at church? The “office” is already provided and set up. The talents and qualities required come intact with the office. All you have to do is simply move in and begin expressing these individual qualities and talents God has given you.
Rotation in office also prevents church stagnation. When a corporation needs a particular department to move in a new direction, change is likely to take years if the same staff is left in place. Yet, the company can effect immediate change simply by putting in new personnel—people who hold no preconceptions as to procedure. Hence, a church that repeats the same Readers, the same Clerk, the same Treasurer, etc., isn’t likely to express the degree of freshness and new expectation as will a church that is obedient to Mrs. Eddy’s vision in this regard. She wrote in The First Church of Christ Scientist, and Miscellany, “Rotation in office promotes wisdom, quiets mad ambition, satisfies justice, and crowns honest endeavors” (p. 250).
Response 2: Don Adams
Rotation in office is about more than just “taking turns.” It’s really about spiritual growth and progress.
Mary Baker Eddy constantly challenged the status quo and brought change. She wasn’t trying to impose her own personal opinions, but praying to honor this verse from the Lord’s Prayer, including its spiritual sense: “Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Enable us to know, —as in heaven, so on earth, --God is omnipotent, supreme” (Science and Health, p.17). Shaking things up just to replace another person’s way of doing things with our own way doesn’t necessarily guarantee real freshness or progress. Striving to listen for God’s angels, to be receptive to His direction, to see God’s nature more clearly—these motives, Mrs. Eddy assured us, “give pinions to thought” (Science and Health, p. 454). And thought pinioned with love sparkles.
Progress is human evidence of our individual spiritual growth. Rising higher, we change. We progress. The world progresses, including our churches. If we’re not changing and progressing in our daily lives, we’re probably not growing much. Change, freshness, new inspired views, better ways of doing things—these are organic fruits of spiritual development and maturity. These harvests—these fruits of our growth—come with us wherever we go. We call this growth healing, and other people can’t possibly stop our spiritual growing and healing.
Science and Health states, “All the varied expressions of God reflect health, holiness, immortality—infinite Life, Truth, and Love” (p. 518). Note Eddy’s use of the term, varied, here. The perfection of being is expressed in variety—infinite variety. Spiritual growth, then, shows up in less sameness and more variety.
Commenting about the new Manual By-Law providing three-year terms for Readers in The Mother Church (p. 26), Eddy wrote, “The effect of this By-law has been earnestly and conscientiously considered. Its intent is to enlarge the capacity and increase the interest in this large Church—by conferring its duties and honors on a large proportion of its members” (Christian Science Sentinel, May 29, 1902, p. 624).
Rotation in office provides wider opportunity to share responsibilities, promoting greater spiritual learning while allowing more variety. In these ways, it nudges us nearer spiritual reality. This is fundamentally why, to answer your question, rotation in office is important. However, the only real driver of inspired freshness, variety, and change is the spiritual progress we each make, and which rotation in office supports. Rotation without spiritual growth is often just repetition. But where there is real spiritual growth taking place, we see enlightened ideas, vitality, and healing.