Week 70: Most branch churches were founded years ago, and the bylaws were largely written to meet the needs of that time. When a branch church, for instance, moves to a new location, doesn't it seem the wise thing to write a new set of bylaws to meet the needs of today?"

Response 1: Miles Harbur

You’re making a great observation! It’s one I can speak to from personal experience…

Several years ago our branch church gradually decided to move out of our building and rent it out. It had become too big and too expensive for our group. We felt we were serving the building, instead of it serving our needs. The members wanted to improve the venue and the feel of our services, meetings, and community engagement.

Moving out of the building was a very important step in putting these desires into practice, but not the only step. We wanted greater informality, greater democracy, fewer committees, increased authenticity, and easier access to our services and meetings for members and for anyone else who was interested. We began to see that the way we were "doing" church had to evolve along with our change in location. We began to experiment with new Church Manual consistent forms of organization, services, meetings, and other ways of acting as a church that would have been impossible under our old bylaws.

For example, we shifted the new member admission process away from a focus upon judging an applicant against a checklist of personal behaviors (smoking, drinking, using medical care, etc.), toward an honest assessment of whether the person loves and believes in Christian Science and is trying to live the ideas in Science and Health.

We tried to consciously focus on church activities that members felt were really important and worth their time and attention. For our group, it meant including everyone in all decision-making via email. It meant eliminating committees or activities that no one really cared about, and encouraging individuals to try out new ideas that they felt divinely guided about—activities such as participation in health and healing expos, conference call services, and more engaging Wednesday meetings.

The process of syncing our bylaws with how we are evolving and learning as a church—with more vigor, inclusiveness, inspiration and connectedness—is a continuing one. In the meantime, our financial picture has grown into greater freedom to do things that are important to our members and for our community. Our membership has also grown.

It's really freeing to ask ourselves, “What kind of church do we want to be part of?” And as we live, pray, experiment, and learn in honestly addressing this question, we'll naturally reassess our current bylaws. Are they serving us—making the best use of our church resources to fulfill its mission? Or have we become servants of our bylaws—have they become burdensome, causing too much busywork, out of date?

At a recent Church Alive conference, I heard a talk given by a member of a church group that reduced their bylaws to a single page as their group's sense of spiritual purpose evolved and clarified.

Church members deciding to make buildings, spaces, and bylaws into servants, rather than masters of their church experience allows the spiritual mission and energy of the Church of Christ, Scientist—proving the utility of Christian Science in ways that speak to hungering hearts—to determine the specific forms it takes in our branch and its community.

Response 2: Susan Mack

I can speak from experience on this question. I have been a member of four branch churches with lengthy bylaws, and while I never questioned the need for so many rules, I do remember wondering if our members were really familiar with them—I know I wasn't. So, when I was part of a start-up Christian Science Society about a decade ago, I wondered what it would be like if bylaws could be one page long. Could it be done and really cover the necessary structure to govern a branch church? Wouldn't it be wonderful to have bylaws that were so simple that every member could easily master and refer to them? The basis for these bylaws was a living, palpitating spirit of hearts aflame with love for church, with just enough guidance for the day to day activities of church so that we could proceed with "wisdom, economy and brotherly love" (Manual, p. 77).

Three of us constructed this document, and 11 years later, it still stands as sufficient to guide our vibrant and growing Society. I love this quote from Irving Tomlinson's book Twelve Years with Mary Baker Eddy: "With Mrs. Eddy, I well know simplicity of rule and action was the important thing. She saw the value of simplicity in branch churches and warned about over-organization. At supper one evening she commented, 'I do not believe in much organization in church. The churches are over-organized. Were I to have charge of a church today, I should have it founded on the Bible. I should talk to them from the Bible. I should direct their thought to the Bible, and I should expect them to be obedient to the Bible” (p. 156).

I'm not sure it's so much a question of the times but a demand of timelessness, which always thrives in simplicity. We can all relate to how the passage of time tends toward accretion in organizations. Mrs. Eddy wrote, "Christian Science presents unfoldment, not accretion" (Science and Health, p. 68). Clearly, accretion is not helpful in Christian Science. Frankly, I think many branch churches have tended to just use boiler-plate bylaws from other branch churches to construct their own, but I don't think it was ever Mrs. Eddy's intent that the branch churches model their bylaws after other churches.

From my study of The Manual, I have concluded that Mrs. Eddy’s hope was that each branch church would be keenly alert to the needs of its particular community, and that its bylaws would be designed to meet the needs of the members and the ways in which those members most naturally can communicate and support the democratic processes of their branch church. For example, in our Society, the Internet has allowed for much more efficiency and flexibility in getting a quorum, taking votes, and forwarding useful activities. It has been wonderful to have only twice yearly in-person meetings, and much more business done by email consensus. But that may not be what another branch church finds helpful at all.

The important thing is not "what" we do, but "how" we do it. The measuring stick of the "simplicity that is in Christ," (II. Cor. 11:3) and the prayer of "Shepherd show how to go," (Hymn No. 304) are unerring rules for church organization, and will guide us all to find joyous models for governance that let our churches breathe deeply of the Holy Spirit.

  1. Thank you Miles and Susan for your examples of recent paring down of church rules and bylaws. I have a CS church bylaw collection which is very interesting. All church bylaws I've seen before the 1930's were very simple, very Christian and very much like Mrs. Eddy outlined for The Mother Church. But then the churches got larger, more complicated and they started amending and adding rules until some of the bylaws went from the size Susan mentions to dozens of pages of rules!! For churches experiencing their 100 year anniversary, I always recommend digging out the original bylaws from when your church started. You will be pleasantly surprised and encouraged to simplify!

  2. Excellent question this week. interesting comment from Linda B. while branch churches were adding layers of restrictions in the 1920's and 30's, look what was going on in the rest of the country. Prohibition! and we all know how long that lasted.

  3. CS Church By-Laws might be more acceptable if they follow a logical progression of Christian development by the individual, making allowances for growth. Modern culture does not appreciate "rules" whether it be "school rules"or "family rules", or "church rules", called By-laws. The human mind rebels. Recognizing this factor perhaps churches should prepare and offer Bible Study as a matter of course and invite the newcomer to attend who may not be familiar with the Bible at all. That way those who missed Sunday School and any Biblical study can be educated as to where spiritual healing comes from and why adhering to standards of personal conduct is so important in leading a Christian life as well as how beneficial that can be, as it leads to spiritual growth and natural healing and protection from disease. There should never be any judgmental condemnation involved - just a helping hand of education that hopefully will lead the earnest seeker of Truth to willingly and happily agree to follow the simple By-Laws each church offers as a prerequisite for Church membership. Fellowship, support and love should always be offered to those who attend services but who do not feel they are able to join. I found instant freedom from smoking with the help of a practitioner because membership required it. That sincere desire to grow spiritually by following "By-Law rules" is always rewarded.

  4. Something I have learned about policy from a career in public service, (and by-laws are essentially policy directives), is that by-laws should be considered a "living document." They should never be seen as set in stone. Times and circumstances are ever changing for branch churches, and by-laws need to reflect the changes. There's a great saying, "There's nothing more constant than change." Embrace the positive and God directed changes we encounter in our church work, and re-visit the by-laws (policy) on an as needed basis to be consonant with those changes. The process need not be arduous or onerous, but divinely inspired.

  5. My dear friends. Some of us have been conveying this to the Mother Church for quite some time. At last we see some attention to the matter. Jesus Christ, representing God, did not seek out the well and sin free. He loved them but he sought those of us who had problems. Why then do our CS churches reject these persons from joining them. Jesus had no fear of them, why do we. Of course we should include them, our teachers and healers seek to help them, why not our churches.

    As to use of the internet. Membership in Christian churches has, overall, decreased in the United States. Note, however, the increase in Catholic church membership in the western U.S. (I have no explanation.) Some of us are now learning and healing via the internet. The Principle never changes but our patterns may.

    Great article! Let it open our eyes in a truthful way and let change go forward.


  6. In response to comment #5: As far as I know, The Mother Church has been aware of these issues for quite a long time. It's years now since a list of those "extra" requirements (no smoking, no alcohol, etc.) was removed from the information that The Mother Church gave to prospective applicants for membership; it's now just the requirements that Mary Baker Eddy herself stated in the Church Manual, plain and simple. You can find all three of them on pp. 34-35. That's certainly all I was given when I became a member close to a decade ago.

    Thanks to Miles and Susan for their great insights. I'm a member of a CS Society that's working towards revising its own by-laws for greater simplicity and relevance, so these are good things to think about.

    For anyone who's interested, there's a video from the Boston Church Alive Summit last year that really opened my eyes about the nature of the Church Manual and its relationship to branch churches. Highly recommended for anyone who's also considering these issues: http://members.christianscience.com/church-alive/our-church-foundation-boundless-basis-for-growth/

  7. Can out-dated bylaws become toxic to church growth? If so, the canary in the coal mine is the by-law requiring church members to be "free from the use of medicine." It enables the media to link us with denominations which regard medical care as sinful, and sacrifice children on the alter of their faith. The Committee on Publication has reassured the media for years that our church has no dogmatic prohibition against any form of health care, and when we turn to prayer, we do so because it works, not because of peer pressure. By reinforcing the notion that "Christian Scientists don't believe in doctors," this bylaw hangs like an albatross around the neck of church growth.

  8. This is exciting to hear. Some years ago we worked together as a branch church in a small community to start over with our by-laws, it was an inspiring process. Two main points we considered in writing new ones were: who or what are we trying to exclude? and if it isn't in the Manual of the Mother Church (for example, the smoking, drinking) do we really need to be more exclusive than Mrs. Eddy? We also considered carefully whether or not a by-law was being added out of fear, or love and trust. These guiding principles led to a one page set of by-laws that have, so far as I know, since I'm no longer there, served that church well for the last twenty years or so. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this subject, there is so much healing to be had through this kind of work!

  9. Thanks so much for a really helpful discussion....especially the part where MBE talks about using the bible as her yardstick. Out church is busy looking at our by-laws, and these ideas are most helpful.

  10. Susan's mention of the quote in Science and Health on p. 68 reminds me of yesterday's Daily Lift by Frank Prinz-Wondollek: http://christianscience.com/prayer-and-health/inspiration/your-daily-lift/8-6-unfoldment-not-accretion

    Interesting that both Miles and Susan mentioned decision-making over the Internet, allowing for, in the latter's case "only twice yearly in-person meetings, and much more business done by email consensus."

    It's great to hear inspiring examples of branches getting beyond tradition and ritual, which never were and never will be Christian Science.

  11. I have to agree with Miles Harbur where he mentions to stop focusing on a person's habits when filling out admissions to Church membership. He is right to focus on a persons genuine desire to understand C/S. let's face it, it's these
    Bad habits one wants to let go of and be healed of. Now how is he/her to demonstrate a healing if first he/she has to rid all these bad habits before joining the Church?

  12. Both responses to the question are excellent--well thought out and include guidelines all Christian Science churches (new or old) should seriously consider--both in revising or creating new by-laws and in re-visiting their membership applications.

    Simplicity, a focus on the Bible and the Sermon on the Mount, brotherly love and outreach to one's own community with devoted and primary attention to our weekly Bible Lesson should constitute the driving forces used to propel Christian Science churches.

    I especially appreciated the following statement, ". . . , we shifted the new member admission process away from a focus upon judging an applicant against a checklist of personal behaviors (smoking, drinking, using medical care, etc.), toward an honest assessment of whether the person loves and believes in Christian Science and is trying to live the ideas in Science and Health."

    I see using the above "answers" as guidelines is love in action, and ensures strong, marvelously vibrant and successful Christian Science churches.

    I do appreciate both answers and each following comment.

  13. Thanks so much to Mike, Susan and all others for responding to this question. It seems that the discussion has begun to center around the idea of branch-church membership requirements. Apparently, this is is a topic that has been around for many years. The May 9, 1942 "Sentinel" addressed the topic of "Concerning Use of Drugs and Medicine"; and it was re-printed in the editorial section of the June, 1942 "Journal" (pp. 174-175). What follows are excerpts:

    "Should Christian Science churches accept as members applicants who use medicine, drugs, or material means for healing? The teachings and works of the great Master, Christ Jesus, and our beloved Leader, Mrs. Eddy, clearly indicate that they should not. The members of Christian Science churches should accept fully the teachings of Christian Science and attest in their lives that Christian Science is adequate to meet and master all human ills and to usher them into the harmony and health of the divine nature. If applicants for membership do not rely fully on Christian Science for the healing of physical and mental infirmities, they are not yet ready for membership in a Christian Science church; but such seekers need not be discouraged, for divine Love will support their faltering footsteps and aid them later to attain membership if they study Christian Science earnestly and strive to gain a knowledge of God and His healing power."

    This topic is very familiar to me. I applied for branch-church membership and answered truthfully on the application that I did indeed use a prescription medication (I had received help from practitioners through the years, but had not experienced healing for this particular difficulty). My application was rejected; I was told that, before I would be considered for membership, I would not only need to discontinue use of the medication but would also have to experience a Christian Science healing of the physical problem. I believe the dear board members of this church were acting according to their highest sense of right. My heart goes out to them for their sincerity. The decision to continue attending that particular branch church was not easy, but I went back and am to this day a regular attendee. I will be forever grateful that I made that choice, because it allowed love to pour in where a feeling of deep hurt seemed to be.

    I do have a lingering question, though, and I would appreciate feedback. More recent periodical articles have included the statement that Christian Scientists are free to make their own health-care choices/decisions. TMC Board members have said this, as well. If a current member of a branch church is allowed to choose a medical path for help, why is it that a membership applicant is not allowed to do so?

  14. Typing Girl: Your response makes one think. However, it is a bit confusing. You begin with agreeing with the firm policy which did not allow you to be a member but, at the end you seem to go in the other direction. I agree with the other direction. I do not drink or smoke either. Nonetheless, if one with these habits can seek a Christian alternative, should they not be allowed to? Jesus may have drunk wine. Other Christians do too. I am not sure that MBE, who personally opposed both for good reason, did not turn away persons seeking healing who did. I am not sure of what you refer to.

    If a person sees value in joining a CS church, God Bless them. It is an excellent course to follow. Should they be smokers and drinkers or, should they be under medical care and are seeking an alternative healing, what better way than to be with persons who believe similarly. As I noted before, Jesus sought these persons lovingly. I had an acquaintance who was active in the Practice of Christian Science; a member of a branch church, the Mother Church; Journal listed; and, so on. He had what was called a heart attack and was admitted to a hospital. They cared for him. His position was sincerely "thank you," but, " what kind of a CS member would I be if I remained in the hospital. He checked out. Several days later he passed on.

    I have been under medical care before and found some of the care givers more openly supportive of CS than some CS members I know. Becoming Spiritually oriented is the work of an eternity. How can I find a solution, however, if I cannot enter the school? I am a member of a branch church, the Mother Church, and am Class Taught. I would not miss reading my lesson, daily, for anything. It is rich with information and opens my mind to new ideas and, healing all the time. Moreover, I am open to discussing CS with anyone showing an interest. Why should our branch churches not do the same?

  15. Ahhh,yes, that is what many people are asking and that is why many branches/societies are changing their membership applications and their by-laws.

    Thank you for referencing the 1942 article above...and that was the climate/thought when I became a member in the 60's. At that time I smoked and drank alcoholic beverages. Through the prayerful help of a Christian Science practitioner I had seen that Christian Science heals and quite quickly! My two year old daughter had been healed of a rash on her arm. The first treatment it disappeared completely--on that arm, and appeared on the other arm. The practitioner commented, "Well if it's going to move, let's move it off..." And off it went--that was indeed the end of it. Some months later I had cold symptoms that would not yield and I was suffering. The thought came to me that I really wanted to be a Mother Church member. My desire to serve the cause of Christian Science was greater than my desire to drink and smoke! The cold symptoms disappeared rapidly and I never had a desire to smoke or drink again! Love that story! Six months later I joined the branch church I had been attending and The Mother Church.

    When we moved to another state it came to me that we should start a Christian Science Society because I had to travel 8.5 miles to church...so a few families I'd found in the area came together and we did form a CS Society, which then became a branch church. Today I travel 20 and sometimes 70 miles, when I'm helping out one of my children and his family.

    We can change the rules, change this, change that, but it is primitive Christian healing/Christian Science that will attract, bring in the millennium...no way around it.

  16. I, too, love this question, and the discussion that has followed. My branch church has been re-visiting our bylaws, and the question we keep coming back to is "Who do we want to be? How do we want to define our church?" We're realizing that we don't want to be defined by a list of don'ts, but we do want to be defined by a list of "dos." I love that there is no one right answer to this question-- each branch gets to decide from themselves the qualities and characteristics that they value in their membership and their church.

    At the same time, it's so easy to fall into the trap of judging each other-- whether its in the form of a membership application or whether its judging someone else's decision or actions after the fact. It's not enough to say that we don't want our church to be defined by judging one another-- we have to live that in our daily actions as well. I appreciate the respect that the commenters have had for individual branch churches answering these questions for themselves. And for individual members who are making decisions for themselves, according to their own prayers and highest sense of right.

  17. Wisdom, economy and brotherly love characterize the actions of Church members.

    Holding to a higher standard of thinking and living has never been hurtful to anyone. Mortal Mind is screaming louder and louder for relaxing the standard to allow for more indulgence in the material senses. It used to be that a Christian Scientist was known as an honest individual who did not indulge in drinking, smoking or immorality. It is more likely that one thinks of the Mormon Church in this way today and they are growing. We do not need to relax our standards, we need to live up to them. “and draw all men unto “ the Church and the freedom from false attractions.

    I have just reread the Manual of the MC in its entirety and my Branch Church Bylaws. The qualifications having to do with smoking, drinking, morality or medical care are not specifically mentioned with respect to membership in the Manual of the MC. If I am wrong please tell me where I can find it.

    However, It is when one is a Reader that one is held to a higher standard. And yes our Branch church Bylaws expect that the officers and teachers in Sunday School be members of the Mother Church.

    Our Branch Church Bylaws do not mention smoking, drinking, morality or medical care either. Our Branch church has guidelines for the interviewing Committee which are sincerely looked at periodically- They are not Bylaws.

    When individuals desire to form a Church, it is an organization that falls under the jurisdiction of the State in which you reside having to do with taking contributions and not being taxed for property and not having to file income tax forms annually. These are all in the practical area. Articles of Incorporation in the State generally require that a Board be part of the organization and there be bylaws to protect the organization and the members with respect to liability and accountability to the members. It is recognized and everyone can trust that the organization is what it says it is. This is an oversimplified explanation, but it is extremely important that one does not just throw out their bylaws and start over. Do you know where your Articles of Incorporation are and have you read them? Do you really know what your Bylaws say?

    My Branch Church Bylaws consists of Thirty-three “half pages” very amply spaced and is easily read in twenty minutes.

    Let us not lower the standards, but raise up the individual.

    Growing in grace comes back to the “fervent desire” “meekness, patience and brotherly love.” Mary Baker Eddy.

  18. The writer of this "OWN COMMENT" had a Martial Arts Teacher, who would always be saying to use as a student. "You always
    have to be flexible like the tree, if it is not flexible,then it will break".

    How many governments, businesses, organizations, and churches have closed because of inflexibility.

    It is interesting to study some of Soul and it's attributes, balance, flexibility, agelessness, creativity, design, agility, tranquility, equanimity, meekness, blamelessness ect, ect.

    Is it not true, that when one keeps doing the same thing you must get the same results.

    All have a wonderful adventure,

    Peter Reichl-Cunningham.

  19. Many years ago, my dear Mother, an ardent CS student, was on the Board of a local branch church. A talented lady who drank and smoked (because her late husband did), began to attend our little church. She wanted to become a member because she was absorbing all the good in CS that she was learning from the services and individual members. BUT--the Board refused her! However, my Mother didn't agree with the other Board members. She felt that this lady wanted and needed CS to enrich her life, and thusly, disagreed with the Board members.
    Finally, they agreed with my Mother and allowed the lady membership in our church.
    Such blessings unfolded for our church with this new member! Not only was she healed of smoking and drinking, but she filled our need of an organist, and later was teaching Sunday School and was elected to be First Reader!
    She was a talented author and artist and well known in our community. Their respect for her and knowing she was also a Christian Scientist, led others to become members of our church.
    If folks are seeking and wanting what CS churches have to offer, let's review the strict by-laws that some churches still have and eliminate the negative and encourage those who wish to join us.

  20. I'm glad this discussion has come up because I was just this past week or so asking about branch church membership. I recently reinstated my Mother Church membership, and in looking at the application, it had 3 criteria: believe in CS and its teachings, be free from membership in another denomination, and be familiar with the CS platform beginning on page 330 in S&H. Nowhere on the application does it stipulate that you must not be taking medicine. So the branch church I am interested in joining, has a point in its bylaws that says you cannot be taking medicine, you must be free of it. I asked why. The answer was because if you take medicine, then you are saying there's another power other than God. I didn't want to argue the point, but later I was thinking that we all, in some ways, give power to things other than to God...that's why we're studying, and learning,and discovering Truth along the way, and demonstrating Spirit over matter and its nothingness. What about those members in that branch church who wear eye glasses? You could also say that they are giving power to something other than God...but yet they are accepted into membership. I don't see consistency here, so I am finding myself "perplexed".

    Thank you Miles, for your wonderful insights and understandable logic!

  21. Many thanks to everyone for these ideas. Regarding "softening up" on church rules, I am reminded of an occasion when being-as some might feel-restrictive, was fruitful. A dear, consecrated woman applied for membership in our small country Society. She had one problem: the need to be home on Wednesday evenings. Our Bylaws included the requirement to attend services and testimony meetings, so with trepidation (we really wanted her as a member, and the fear was that we might lose her to another church which was not so strict) and love for her and the church, we asked her if she would like to think again about Wednesdays and then re-apply. She was visibly shaken, but accepted the idea. She did work out attending on Wednesdays, and always thereafter credited our stand with her progress to the healing practice, which she always said would not have happened had she not been challenged to "walk the talk" at that stage.

  22. accepting someone to membership is a Solomon experience. An earnest "believe" in CS is not the same as practicing CS as expressed in healing and attendance and serving and spirituality and other qualities. Jesus disciples were much more than believers, and as illustrated by previous remarks, discerning readiness requires inspiration for each situation. Remark#21 is a wonderful illustration that helped enhance someone's practice of CS and blessed.

  23. I agree with softening of rules as to new members at Church or Society. But I keep imagining if a membrer that still uses tobacco or alcohol would bee ellected for a Reader. Would it be nice to watch he (she) standing at pulpit and pouring out smoke like a volcano or smelling like a wine bottle? Of ourse not. So there are limitations about human behaviors to come into church.

  24. I appreciate all of the comments. There is logic on both sides of the argument, but I would offer a thought. In 1962 I attended the College Organization meeting in Boston with the then Committee on Publication for NYC or NYS, General Christenberry. He graciously shared his hotel room with me and a friend from my Sunday School. One day my friend and another student we met were actively discussing sexuality (keep in mind it was 1962) when he returned to the room. The General walked to the far corner of the room and sat down without saying a word. He knew he had interrupted a very private conversation.

    Following a long silence we three students felt safe in resuming our conversation. After a long discussion the General finally spoke and he told us about the temptations he faced in the military and how he had made a decision to turn them down. Then he pointed out to us that we are all on our own spiritual ladders and that we should never look judgmentally on others. I have always carried that loving image of my spiritual ladder with me. The General's words were inclusive unlike others that I have read or heard over the years who were exclusive. His comments and my experiences with a few other Christian Scientists have kept me involved with CS.

    I am one of those who attends a local branch church, but has never applied for membership largely because I don't want to put myself in a position of being judged (I take prescription medication). Obviously that is something that I have to work to overcome.

    To those who believe that setting the bar high and applying tough love is the correct path I would respectfully disagree.

    Someone else mentioned the use of corrective (prescription) lenses by members and readers in their local branch church. I've always felt that was somewhat hypocritical. We are each on a different rung of the ladder!

    I really appreciate the forums that the Mother Church has established. I would love to sit with other Christian Scientists and discuss/debate the Bible. After studying religion for the past three semesters I have found the Bible to be wonderful, but there is still much to learn.

  25. This is indeed a much needed debate. Oh how I wish Miles' and Susan's posts could be read and memditated in all branches! In our branch church, a board meeting was programmed for a by-law review, and one devoted member spent hours streamlining the laws. At the meeting, the board members --average age 75--put back in every single one that had been cut. No comment.
    While branch churches are having byzantine debates about qualifications for membership, other less fussy religious minorities are fast becomng tomorrow's religious majorities (the explanation for the growth of Catholicism in the Western US, -see comment #5--is simply the Latinos). And Islam with their huge birth rate is fast becoming a religion that will have to be dealt with. Then where will we be? Are there so many Christian Scientists out there that we can afford to exclude aspiring members, albeit those who don't toe the mark? I have heard of a First Reader who is a known smoker.His branch church debates:exclusion or not exclusion?. But at the same time they have to admit that he does lots for the branch,and has brought many new people in. Once again, can the shrinking global membership afford to throw away such as this? I believe that to ask the question is to answer it.

  26. When people do not practise Christian Science the way that Mrs Eddy teaches; when they do not accept the guidelines of The Manual of The Mother Church, they are not practising Christian Science !
    Lots of church buildings are, or may be, filled with people. However, only Mrs Eddy’s definition of Church, in the Textbook, heals.
    Shakespeare throws down the gauntlet -”To be, or not to be,…”
    Choose ye !

  27. Wow, what a discussion. I will just add my story... My husband and I have loved CS and the writings of MBE for over 15 years. We have attended many branch churches and TMC. We have worked with Practioners and have some incredible healings in our life. However, dealing with branch church life has been very disappointing. When we once wanted to join a church they said no homosexuals, which we completely disagreed with and could not for the love of God figure out why they would exclude what they thought was a sinner anyway. We have recently approached a church we have attended for several years about joining but the by laws have practically driven us from CS completely. I, for 15 years have spoken to other about CS and the beliefs and have really defended the idea that members are not pressured not to use medicine but are free to decided hopefully with God's guidance. However, if one cannot join a church or would, I assume, be thrown out for using medicine how can you say they are not pressured? I feel bad for what I have told others as it is not truthful. My husband and I are very shaken from these experiences. We do not question our belief in CS or God but we have no church and does not like we will have, which is sad for us. If you wonder where some of us have gone maybe this will help.

  28. To #27: Mrs. Eddy writes on page 61 (lines 31-2) in Science and Health, "If the propagation of a higher human species is requisite to reach this goal, then its material conditions can only be permitted for the purpose of generating." On page 341, line 11, she writes, "In Christian Science mere opinion is valueless."

    These two sentences make it clear that the earlier statement was not her opinion, but a fact which she discerned and passed along to the world, that individuals may be obedient to the law of God. It doesn't matter how many people are of the opinion that homosexuality is justifiable, it is prohibited by divine law—and willful disobedience is punished. It is of no value whether or not one likes this fact, he can no more change it than he can "soften the rules" of mathematics.

    No one is excluded from God's love. "By mercy and truth iniquity is purged: and by the fear of the Lord men depart from evil. (Prov. 16:6) Moffatt translates this, "Kindness and loyalty atone for sin; by reverence for the Eternal men avoid punishment." We are "all made pure by Love's pure fire" (Hymn 237). Read Hebrews 12:1-15.

  29. My goodness; I think church membership will be a hard sell when we inform applicants that they are not to engage in sex unless with the intent to produce a child. Perhaps we shouldn't permit eating or drinking anything beyond what is necessary to survive. It is obvious from all the preceding comments that understanding how to demonstrate the Principle that is Love is not obvious. Please, let's not express ourselves as if it is.