Week 74: "Several members have suggested, given the situation, that we forgo holding a Christian Science lecture for this year. Can we do this?"

RESPONSE 1: FRANK PRINZ-WONDOLLEK

What came immediately to me in response to this question is: What a wonderful opportunity to offer a lecture on progress and unfoldment!

Inviting people to a lecture is about sharing our joy, our love, and our healings with a world yearning for solutions. Mary Baker Eddy wrote in Science and Health “Happiness is spiritual, born of Truth and Love. It is unselfish; therefore it cannot exist alone, but requires all mankind to share it” (p. 57). A Christian Science lecture is an opportunity to share truth and love selflessly with all mankind.

As we all know, it is not only about obeying a Manual By-Law and having to organize—out of habit or routinely—a lecture a year.

To the contrary—the Manual has been established to support each one of us in experiencing healing as well as continuous progress and growth. This is true for the individual and for a branch church.

For this reason Article XXXII Sect. 4 in the Manual reads, “The Mother Church and the branch churches shall call on the Board of Lectureship annually for one or more lectures.”

We may well offer more than one lecture per year. Organizing one or more lectures helps promote our spiritual progress, unfoldment, and healing—individually and collectively. A lecture is also a form of Christian-Scientific treatment, which requires every member not only to help organize but first and foremost to further our common spiritual growth.

Throughout preparation meetings and while lecturing, I’ve experienced healings, and I know others have as well. In one preparation meeting we talked about how to give a treatment in Christian Science and especially about our spiritual unity with God. During this meeting, three members were healed from physical issues. And also afterwards, they decided to have even more than one lecture a year. Mary Baker Eddy wrote, “We, to-day, in this class-room, are enough to convert the world if we are of one Mind; for then the whole world will feel the influence of this Mind; as when the earth was without form, and Mind spake and form appeared” (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 279).

Let us all give our consent that a lecture will bring healing and help others feel the Christ within their hearts. This is what I understand to be loyal to the Manual requirements. These new ways and ideas will open up the way to continue as a branch church and experience supply. When we begin to understand and accept that we are all practitioners and practice the spiritual laws of Christian Science, this will automatic progress and healing in every way to your branch church.

RESPONSE 2: DAVE STEVENS

You have probably read some of the ideas which have come to other churches as solutions. The flow of right ideas moving Church forward never stops. Its source is infinite Love. Keep working out from the infinite resources of Love. Church is an infinite idea, dynamic and inexhaustible. Christian Science itself is infinite, always expanding in human consciousness, never contracting. You and your church are part of this expansion. Every activity of church is an activity of infinite good. I love to think about the fact that where any good is expressed, the unlimited divine Principle of all good is present and active.

Establish and build your “can do list” and get inspired about the spiritual reasons why you can. The “can’t do” list should only contain those items that suggest church as limited. What we can’t do is go there. Embracing God’s law of progress rather than trying to hang on—or return to an old normal—is a wonderful way to find a new and improved normal. Church is not designed to merely hang in there or stay the same. As an organized spiritual activity, church is designed to progress and flourish.

No doubt you have considered specifically that every Manual provided activity occurs within the divine economy where supply and demand are one. This kind of spiritually illumined thought looks right through apparent barriers to what can be done. After all, there is no being stuck between a rock and a hard place in God’s universe. Every rock and place belongs to Mind, Love, and can only support right activity. Note that the Manualprovides for lecturers to adjust the fee or rely on contributions (see Manual Article XXXII, Sect. 7-9). I had some experience using this provision as a lecturer and it always worked out well for both lecturer and branch church.

The lecture committee or whole church might enjoy working with Mrs. Eddy’s letter to the Board of Lectureship (see pp. 248-249, The First Church of Christ Scientist, and Miscellany). Mrs. Eddy writes about “the emancipation of the race.” THIS is what we are about in our church work. Every bit of our witnessing to the living, healing Christ is participating in the emancipation of the race. I’m sure you feel the thrill of this grand purpose. It’s a holy purpose, and therefore fully funded. Every day provides the opportunity to do our part, and Love’s infinite resources provide the means.

  1. Steve Cole’s article in the May 2012 Journal: “A Church Built to Last” gave me some fresh perspectives on my role in church. Healing is it, and the ways we have to interface with the public include our Reading Room, and lectures. Some believe having our church doors open twice a week is enough, but our church Manual specifies these two other avenues, thankfully. In S&H MBE writes that giving does not impoverish, and withholding does not enrich. A lecture is a wonderful way to give and share with the community. We don’t want to limit ourselves. Our motive needs to be that we are “taking up our bed” and walking forward, with energy.

  2. This is a great opportunity for two or three churches to coordinate and hold a joint lecture, which spreads the cost among the sponsoring churches. A few years back, we sponsored a lecture with a neighboring church where the lecture was held at a juvenile detention camp. As members, we could not attend, but it didn’t matter; the Truth was being shared. The lecturer was local, so travel costs were minimal. Consider having a lecture as part of an interfaith council event, or a college campus religious study program. Events such as this could minimize rental costs for a venue outside your church. “Simplicity, Accuracy and Economy (MBE)

  3. Instead of thinking of closing the church, expand your thought to becoming a society. I know of a few churches that did this and it gave them great freedom and flexibility to do many activities that branched out into the community in ways they wouldn’t have imagined.

  4. I’ve been thinking a lot about church lately–well, always! And this phrase in Dave’s response made me really stop and think: “Church is not designed to merely hang in there…” On some level I think I’ve been accepting that. This is going to really turbo boost my work. Thanks!

  5. I love this forum! Church Alive is unifiying Christian Scientists around the world and encouraging us to look out at TMC and other branches, not up to them. We are working with eachother to meet the healing needs of our communities. That means breaking with tradition and searching for better ways to share this wonderful Science. The innovations are astounding. Like many others, our branch church in Athens, GA uses conference calling to include members and friends in the Wednesday testimony meetings. At the Church Alive Summit in Orlando I heard about a branch church having a teleconference lecture. This encouraged us to do a little research and we held the first live interactive lecture online. It was cost efficient and reached a much larger audience. Thanks to technology the video of the original lecture is now on our website and has been viewed several hundred times – talk about a gift that keeps on giving! A branch church in California is preparing to host one just like it in November. Church is alive!

  6. Several years ago, members on our Lecture committee felt we may not have sufficient funds to invite a lecturer from overseas although it seemed the right idea to do so. These words from Science and Health pg.140 lines 10-12 which reads in part “warring no more over the corporeality, but rejoicing in the affluence of our God” opened our thought and the inspiration and joy that was needed to uplift thought worked! The other idea that was so very helpful was from Hymn 41:3 ‘By means the simplest can our God fulfil His righteous will’ Truth is so simple, so easy and we just these two ideas lead us and they did – a Lecture is a right idea, it is God’s idea and is supported by His loving grace! Have a wonderful lecture!!!

  7. We need to remember that counting the dollars and preserving a particular building is not always affording “proof of its utility” or “elevating the race”. Let Love lead the way.

  8. I agree with number two, “Big Mike.” Each branch church/society has a yearly budget to operate. If near by Christian Science (CS) churches in the area can hold a joint lecture due to lack of sufficient funds, that at least helps to try and get more people aware of what CS is about. Which ever branch location holds the lecture, needs to let all present know that it is joint effort and the other branch locations. But really in many cases from what conversations pass around, most lectures have a small percentage of non-CS type people that attend. Most are regular attendees studying CS. Lectures are the only real avenue for people to hear a person speak about CS and later ask questions from the audience. It helps people to feel more wanted and accepted. I’ve heard that some new first attendees to CS church services, find it somewhat difficult to sit for an hour, when mainly two people just read out of two books. Most are use to a person preaching. So our church services need people who are striving to know what divine healing is about and what it can do for them. It often requires after service explaining to first or second time attendees. Love and patience should encourage new attendees from sometimes strange questions about CS.

  9. So much love for you and your fellow branch church members. Our branch church faced a similar picture not too long ago. I encourage you to stay right there with the Christ – and your answer will come.
    Our branch church prayed for many years and we were finally guided to sell our edifice. That this was the right next step for our church has been proved over and over. We have been now 6 months in our new, smaller (leased) space, are seeing a more stable financial picture and a growing congregation, and just recently were able to offer 3 lectures in one weekend.
    But before this all unfolded we prayed through a picture of uncertainty about finances and about our future. It wasn’t until we found that deepening and refreshing our concept of church and gaining a more expanded, spiritualized understanding of the purpose of church based on Mrs. Eddy’s definition in S&H and the bylaws of The Manual of TMC, that we were ultimately freed from a building that we had outgrown – not physically, but spiritually. Only then did we discern that selling a building is not synonymous with closing a church; instead, it would enable us to apply our “treasures” to where the heart of our church was – healing. While this was unfolding in our collective thought, it meant a lot for me to realize that nowhere in the Manual are we required to maintain facilities for any branch church activity – except a Reading Room. Not even services! And also, when I considered that a branch church could be formed with only four members of TMC, one Journal listed practitioner, and twelve others (16 total), I was led to conclude that Mrs. Eddy must have seen this church not as based on lack, but on affluence as a robust and vital body of “living stones”, abundantly outfitted to fulfill all the Manual based activities asigned to branch churches.
    THAT church has nothing to do with a building or funds – and is therefore free to fullfill its purpose in whatever inspired form and activy God directs for the purpose of healing.
    It might appear that nothing happens if a branch church doesn’t offer a lecture. But perhaps that’s a truer statement than we even realize, for without that “true and just reply” to world thought, “nothing” is EXACTLY what happens – all over the place! This is precisely what Christian Science challenges, and Christian Science offers the remedy. Branch churches are ever on the front line taking a stand against nothingness. The lecture activity – in whatever form we’re inspired to express – is one of the most powerful ways to overturn “nothingness” and present the healing Christ to our communities. It is Love reflected in love. And Love is the only resource required.

  10. Regardless of the possible forms, the immediate thought that came to mind is that “it is giving that you receive” followed by “blessed are those who hunger & thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” Blessed also are all those seeking solutions….

  11. You don’t need to sacrifice your lecture due to finances. Our church has tried to be cost conscious. We have looked at expenses we have and paired them where possible and appropriate.

    Perhaps reducing your music budget is a possibility. We began using CDs for the basis of our music (prelude, postlude, hymns, offertory and postlude). We have made it possible for members to provide “live” music on a voluntary basis (approved in advance by our music committee, of course). This change has enabled more varied, more professional, more understandable (solo), and well controlled music. It has taken some getting used to by some members, but the quality is actually much better, and the cost is significantly reduced. Members who are musicians play as a part of their church contributions–just as committee members, Sunday school teachers, clerk, treasurer, et al.

    Another possibility is delivering a “virtual” lecture. The efficiency of this delivery system (through a webinar-sort of computer possibility) has reduced our costs (since the lecturer doesn’t have to travel, advertising is much less but more effective, etc.) There are several lecturers who are working with churches on utilizing this method. Effectiveness: Two years ago, we spent nearly $4,000 for our lecture and had 3 non-Scientists show up after a raft of advertising. This past winter, our lecture was must less expensive (using a virtual/computer format) and nearly 100 people from all across the USA participated (after we registered all of the local people who wished to be involved). The lecturer then gave us her lecture which was put on YouTube through our church website, and now its availability world-wide.

    For more information, visit georgiaspirituality.com in Athens, GA.

  12. Allow me to vear off and tell of an example of what my father, Joseph, did during the great depression of 1929. He was not a C/S, but what he did shows him to have an inner strong faith in the power of God answering to the belief in limitation of funds. My mother and father were both out of work, and out of money. My father even begged on the streets of New York City with a tin can. Low and behold my father found a $5 bill off a street curb and encoughed my mother to go with him in a Taxi to a fancy restaurant, and then to go bowling. My mother who became a C/S much later in life, and I after woods, caved in reluckinly. The next day my mother got a job and my father, who passed away 1980, a multi-millionaire. The lesson, if it could happen to my father, surely it could happen to a church wanting to obey the Church Manuel.

  13. Looks like classic Animal Magnetism 101 to me. When error, mortal mind, the material view says, “I or we can’t”, that is the time to say “Oh yes, I/we can!” The liar is always lying about the truth, negating and denying reality. Your need to give a lecture for your own benefit and the community is obviously very great. Have at it! Know and affirm the blessing it will be for all. Jesus went so far as to say that kind of knowing will free you. It will totally free you from the false belief that the cost is too great. On the contrary, the cost of NOT sharing your love of Christian Science with your neighbors is what truly cannot be considered, entertained, allowed. We MUST share. And we do want to.

  14. This is off the question, but, I hadn’t seen any posts from our regular contributor, Brad Thurber, for awhile. When I googled him I found he had passed. Below is an article on him. I enjoyed learning about the work his mother as a practitioner had done, his remembrances of the early CS churches, and his obvious concern that the churches of today get their act together and start moving forward. I’m going to write to his church at the address below to let them know how much he challenged me and made me think. God bless him.

    Contrary to some negativity he expressed, we rather know our God is a God of ABUNDANCE! There is no lack or ‘eeking it out’, or making compromises of good in God’s infinitely blessed kingdom. Let’s never accept mediocrity or lack. God is certainly pouring boundless blessings on all our churches.

    “Burlington County Times
    Bradford C. Thurber of Palmyra passed away Wednesday, July 25…Born in New London, Conn., Bradford taught English in private and military schools and was a receptionist at the Riverview Estates Nursing Center in Riverton for eight years.
    He was a recipient of a Master’s degree in Languages.
    He is survived by his sisters, Sandra Kunz (Alfred) of Freehold, N.J., Susan Lindstedt (Michael) of Denville, N.J.; his brother, Barry Kelmon (Vilyina) of Lyndhurst, N.J.; and his companion, Edgar Ramos at home.
    Memorial Service(was held)…Christ Episcopal Church, 638 Parry Ave., Palmyra, NJ 08065.
    Contributions in his memory may be made to Christ Episcopal Church at the above address.”

  15. What came to me when reading all these precious ideas – thank you! – is that giving a lecture is not something we do, but what we are called for to do. So it is about going out with our boat into deep waters, out of routine, out of human planing and outlining, starting new, finding here the Christ pointing out for us individually what the right side is, where our net needs to be thrown out and finding our ability to follow along and receive in order to become able to share.

  16. Thanks Susie Gill. I wondered why we hadn’t heard from Brad Thurber in a while. Good of u to let us know.

  17. Our church has given a joint lecture. Every other year the one church hosts it; the next, we do. I do not know what the "situation" in your question was, but if financial, sharing the cost helps us. If the situation is lack of support from church members, here are suggestions on work and invitations.

    On the topic of lecture, I have never served on the lecture committee, never contributed to the lecture in any way, and rarely attended. This year I did two things. One was that the lecture was on the Sermon on the Mount and we were asked to read it each Sunday. So as first reader I chose for the benediction each of the beatitudes until we got through them all.

    The other thing was that I finally invited people, invited 14 people to come to the lecture. Not one of them came. A woman from the other church invited about four people and either two or four came. I wonder what the difference was, what worked in her invitation. The best invitation I got was as a twelve-year old when I was asked to usher, to hand out programs at the door. That involved me right away. Only one person at much church has ever asked me whether or not I was going to attend; beside a desk announcement (which I often did not hear as a Sunday School teacher) I have been truly invited to our church's lecture only once. What is a true invitation? So if you do give a lecture, and I hope you do, make sure you invite people to it.

  18. Babs, I am the one who actually informed this forum about Brad's passing on the week 67 forum. I was a friend and a neighbor of Brad here in Palmyra Harbour. Cannot believe it will a year that he left us soon. I miss him alot. He was a great guy.