Week 87: "How have you cherished or seen evidence of the theme for Annual Meeting 2013 in relation to your church experience?"

Question: The theme for Annual Meeting 2013 is "Small seeds. . .vital growth."  How have you cherished and/or seen evidence of this theme in relation to your church experience?

Response 1: Mark Swinney

Watching exactly how, for me, this vital growth comes as a result of planting small seeds is so encouraging. Where are those seeds planted? Surprisingly, they get planted in my own thoughts and perspectives. As they germinate, I then behold my world change. For instance, when I plant in my thought a seed that Love provides me, such as how everyone in my church or who is in the audience at a lecture has his or her foundation in Spirit, then a wonderful unity occurs.  New ideas, fresh with inspiration, blossom and bless, not just a few, but for the entire group.  It’s such a joy to watch that!

Response 2: Dawn-Marie Cornett

Small seeds are something I talk about a lot. I really believe that when we offer a helpful thought, even just a smile, we plant the seed of good, the seed that God is real and present. The more seeds we plant, the more will grow, and I think one of the most powerful seeds we plant is how we live our lives, the example we give.

My mom was, and still is, one of those seed planters, and what got planted firmly in me was the desire to be of service to others. I grew up watching her be loving and selfless in church, in her career as a Christian Science nurse, and in her efforts in support of Christian Science institutional work. I saw the obvious evidence of thought springing to life and love, as she simply went about being herself - someone who put God first in everything she did. Her church was blessed, as was her community and her family.

Really beautiful things have grown in my life from watching my mom's example, and I hope I'm doing that example justice as I attempt to plant the seeds of good, love, kindness, care, of the truth of God.

Response 3: Ute Keller

When I first heard the subject of Annual Meeting, I loved it right away. It gave me a deep feeling of righteousness and understanding that there is good available everywhere--and to everyone!  It made me focus and look—even search—for little good things in church and in church members. As I thought about church,  I started to see great opportunities in little things. I started to see how my work as a Christian Science nurse has a great impact on world thinking in regards to healthcare, and that the seeking hearts in the world would be able to find spiritual answers to questions they had.  

This enabled me to become more patient. I can feel how others in church feel supported and loved, too. It is a great help in my church work as a Christian Science nurse too, especially when working with students.

The subject of Annual Meeting gave me a new perspective. In this light, it becomes so  clear that especially those who seem to be so far away from any good are not lost. There is something good in everyone and it can grow and change everything. A tiny idea can move mountains. A tiny little church, society, or group perhaps can do a lot for the world.

Response 4: Evan Mehlenbacher

One of the most important activities of being a church member is to freely share one’s faith with neighbors so that one’s church has an opportunity to grow. “Preach the gospel to every creature,” (Mark 16:15) Jesus commanded his followers.

At the end of the year 2005, the seed was planted in my thought that writing a blog on looking at life from a spiritual point of view was a way to share my love of Christian Science with more people around the world. It was “preaching the gospel,” on a contemporary platform—the Internet.

I wrote a few blogs, and a readership formed. From the comments I received, readers were feeling encouraged to begin or strengthen their study of Christian Science. In an effort to learn more, they would click on my blog links to The Mother Church web sites and explore the Christian Science periodicals. They became readers of www.christianscience.com. They visited Reading Rooms to purchase literature. Many have attended Christian Science lectures. Some took class instruction. As of last month, over a million readers have clicked onto my blog, and interest increases. A “small seed,” nourished and loved, can grow into a productive fruit-bearing tree.

Response 5: Lynne Buckley-Quirk 

As I have prayed in support of this year’s Annual Meeting the theme reminds me how my church experience has led me from “a gaunt want” to “a full-orbed promise” ("The Way," Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896, p. 355).

When Christian Science came into my life, it truly was a “new birth” experience—like the fresh new growth that emerges from tiny seeds planted each spring. My growth began slowly but progressed as I became receptive to my true spiritual identity as the divine idea—the child of God. And this statement by Mary Baker Eddy gave me great comfort and encouragement as I committed to this new way of life: “Its [the divine idea] beginning will be meek, its growth sturdy, and its maturity undecaying (Science and Health, p. 463). 

Like a newly planted seed, my experience began meekly but changed almost immediately after I began attending a local Christian Science branch church. I was leaving a career in the medical field and the members embraced me in a way that tenderly supported sturdy growth in a church community committed to spiritual healing. My growth was nurtured by the realization that healing was vital and essential to my growth as well as the Church’s growth, assuring me that the maturity of both could never lead to decay.

Rather, maturity led to taking Christian Science class instruction and becoming a Christian Science practitioner, joyously committed to serving “the Church designed to be built on the Rock, Christ; even the understanding and demonstration of divine Truth, Live and Love, healing and saving the world from sin and death;” (Manual of The Mother Church, p. 19).

Response 6: Wendy Winegar

My branch society in San Juan Capistrano, Southern California is alive with prayerful support to address challenging situations all over the world. Since magnificent trees can grow from seemingly insignificant seeds, I have great expectations for the deep prayers and tender care my branch society members regularly send out in support of not only the hot spots of the world – the Middle East and Burma – but to those in need in their own community, as well, such as the local Boys and Girls Club and multi-lingual child education programs, as well as Christian Science camp experiences for Navajo children in Arizona.

While living in the Middle East for the past couple of years, my husband, Rich, and I have also benefited from our church members’ prayers. When we first arrived there was great fear of war from a neighboring country. Now it’s never mentioned. Their prayers also helped free a young woman who had undergone human trafficking conditions, who later found a perfect job with an honest employer. And recently, a US Army colonel, a former member of our Christian Science informal group in Kuwait, commented via email from Afghanistan with the following message: “Thanks to your church. It is the only thing that is moving peace in the right direction. Truth and Love is the answer.”

Those prayers may seem small in regions of uncountable sins and mental evil, but  they are vigorous proclamations of truth and love that embrace everyone in a blanket of love, calming the storms, and setting the captives free.

  1. In Australia, when we say that something is 'rooted', it means it is broken down beyond repair, totally ruined, clapped out etc.. So, when I read the theme of this year's Annual Meeting ' A church rooted in healing', I thought it accurately reflects the current state of affairs in CS. It would have been somewhat better if the theme was phrased: 'A church rooted by healing', or simply, 'A church rooted'.

  2. Seeds of spiritual growth are always being carried through the air, and planted, sometimes when we don't even know it. Being a vital part of your church can seem at times daunting, but like I have learned it ends up being a tremendous opportunity for an individuals understanding in Christian Science. When I first became a branch church member I did not want to serve. I had all the excuses right at the tip of my tongue. One Thanksgiving however I was told by an usher that I was the only person she could ask to help usher, and somehow I ended up at a door, welcoming people in. That day a tiny seed of service to my branch church was planted. It grew quite fast once it was rooted. I soon began serving continually on the usher committee, and then on the counting committee, and quite a few more. This did not end up burdening me like I originally knew it would. Instead I began really enjoying the church services like never before, and gaining much more at each service that I attended. One idea I always kept at the back of my mind when I thought I might be getting tired of serving was that I wasn't serving for the other branch members, I was serving for God, and this type of service could never grow
    tiresome, or dull.

  3. F. Nile, have you read this week's Lesson by any chance? Check out S&H section 3; 469:20-30. Maybe what is "rooted" is in your own thought. If God is ALL in all, and God IS, then nothing can be broken and so certainly not beyond repair. The Annual Meeting was so great! I Ioved every word of it and it gave me such a hope and conviction that as we break away from that which is only CS tradition and, embrace new ideas and Spirit based solutions for our times; embracing our communities with Love, this church will prosper and is doing so in those branch churches that are doing it now.

  4. For over 4 years, a few members of The Mother Church have been giving out copies of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" to anyone who wants one at the downtown bus plaza in Spokane, WA. Over 8,000 copies have gone out, paid for by contributions from other Church members or donated by other Christian Science churches. What wonderful seeds those books are, sowing spiritual, healing ideas in the thought of people who seem to need them most! Often recipients return to give thanks, and occasionally to speak of lives transformed by the gift of our textbook. It has been fruitful work indeed.

  5. Our small Society in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island is so grateful to see two new members added to our membership this month. It is so appropriate for the theme and timing of this year's Annual Meeting.
    It makes the evidence of growth presented on the video of the meeting so much more meaningful; the substantial growth in Christian Science churches, societies and groups in the indigenous communities in Africa and in other countries throughout the world; the interest by youth and children; the change in thought in branches resulting in outreach and connections to those "Millions of unprejudiced minds..." mentioned in Science and Health (pg. 570).
    The definition of "rooted" by F. Nile (Comment 1) seems like there is a translation or pronunciation problem, since the definition is identical with "rotten" not "rooted". It would be interesting to hear from another Australian if this is indeed a colloquialism.
    I found so much gratitude expressed, and so much to be grateful for at this year's The Mother Church Annual Meeting that there was no evidence of even a Higgs-Bossom particle of anything rotten.

  6. Greetings from Australia! It was very exciting to be part of the Annual Meeting live (at 3am in Sydney!). I know that several Aussie branches are getting together to share the online events. I really appreciate 'Response 3' from Ute Keller: "...it becomes so clear that especially those who seem to be so far away from any good are not lost. There is something good in everyone and it can grow and change everything." As we continue to watch, work and pray together world-wide, deepest thanks to all the workers at TMC.

  7. I too, loved our Annual Meeting this year! What a harvest of good was reported and inspiration gained for even more fruitful harvests in the year to come.

    Our branch church has committed to hold more lectures and outreach meetings for our community than ever before. We will have Bible study talks as well as Christian Science lectures to express our care and love for our neighbors. We pledge to have greater inclusiveness for all, sowing seeds of blessings.

  8. Like Carey (#6) I was up at 3am to join this year's Annual Meeting and to be part of this meeting of family around the world. What a joy. What has become increasingly clear this past year is the individuality of each member and of each branch church or society, and how each complements and inspires the others. A couple of years ago the idea came to start a book club but I wasn't sure how to get it going. So I just left it in God's hands. Then, just over a year ago, the idea emerged again, and this time as a Reading Room Book Club. The way was clear: we set up an online blog and a monthly newsletter and invited visitors to our Reading Room once a month for discussion on our current book. There have been over 2000 "hits" on our book club blog site, and a lovely flow of visitors to our Reading Room even though it is only open a few hours a week. "Spirit blesses the multiplication of its own pure and perfect ideas." (S&H 512)

  9. "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed..." According to the Bible, with this faith we should be able to move mountains. That is vital growth from a small seed. I like looking at what adjectives do to a thought. Growth not only takes place from a seed thats been planted but the growth is "vital." New World Dictionary defines vital as "necessary or essential to life; indispensable to the continuance or existence of something; of crucial importance; full of life, vigor, energetic." So this growth is necessary, indispensable, full of energy and life. So first "vital" planting must take place. Planting that is full of life, indispensable and so needed to the growth of our spirituality which leads to the "vital" growth of Christian Science.

  10. In her Wednesday readings yesterday, our First Reader followed the theme of Annual Meeting, and read the parables of the sower and the seed, and of the mustard seed (Matt.13). My remarks included my being encouraged by the first parable, in that we cannot judge the receptiveness of thought of those with whom we share Christ, Truth; our job alone is to make sure we're sharing - sowing the seed. And then I said, "My own thought has experienced times of more "seeking" than "finding," times of growth [the good ground], and times of sitting back and watching others [the stony places]."

    I have given away many copies of Science and Health, one to a man diagnosed with a terminal condition; one (in Italian) given to a political refugee, who made her way to the U.S., two (in Spanish), one, a neighbor, and one, a friend's friends; one (in French) which was eagerly accepted; and many more. Most of the recipients I have not met again, but I trust the harvesting to divine Mind's care.

  11. Serving as First Reader in my branch church, the thought came to me to have my Wednesday readings this week correspond to the Annual Meeting theme “Small Seeds – Vital Growth.” Each week I am always amazed to see how these readings unfold. They seem to take on a life of their own, guiding thought in a direction I may not have anticipated…including my own thought! While in the past I usually thought of seed-sowing as something it was my job to do--plant the seed of Truth in someone else’s thought and hope that it would take root--a new perspective was awakening within me. God is the sower. Nurture the seed He has planted within me. The Bible tells us the seed will only grow in the “soil of an honest and good heart.” Till the soil of my own heart, removing weeds of error and aerating the soil with grace, patience, and love so that the seed can put down good, strong roots necessary for the production of fruit. Then I can gather the seed from this ripened fruit and sow it with confidence.

  12. Church has provided me the "structure of Truth and Love" to keep alight the flame of love for God and man as long as I can remember. Every periodical and Bible Lesson read, every Sunday School class and service attended, and every opportunity to serve improved has planted seeds that are still growing! But I'd like to honor particularly how a little decision (after moving to West Virginia) to join my closest branch church in Virginia has been blossoming in vital growth for me, and, I think, for my church.

    When I applied I was uncertain how active I could be from such a distance (1 hour and 40 minutes drive), but I was welcomed in. My first invitation to serve was in prayerful support of our little Reading Room, and to assist in selecting solos for services, things I could do from a distance. But being a member kindled a deep desire to fully unite with this church, and soon I found members inviting me to stay overnight at their homes when I came to Wednesday evening meetings. This afforded me the opportunity to be active in committee work, such as literature distribution, or being a substitute attendant at the reading room. And I have come to be close friends with the woman who hosts my overnights.

    Finding that this devotion of time and thought to serving "God, my Leader and mankind" in these ways has been a joy, and not a burden, I recently felt free to accept appointment as First Reader. Now, I leave for these services several hours beforehand, and am blessed by it all. And, a dear new applicant for membership chose our church and its community (Waynesboro, VA) as his new home when he needed to relocate. This church is warm-heated. It nurtures little seeds.

  13. In response to Gary's question (#5), as an Australian, yes, the word "rooted" (or the verb "to root") does colloquially mean something quite obscene that has no place in this conversation. For my part, when I heard of the theme, and then watched the live webcast of Annual Meeting, I thought of nothing but being "rooted and grounded" - firmly fixed and growing - in Love (see Eph. 3:17). How wonderful to know that this is the truth of our church, of Church itself (the divine idea), and that there is simply no way that bitterness, resentment, selfishness, or anything else un-Godlike can take root in the good soil of Truth as we tend it.

    I was so inspired by Annual Meeting - it gave me such a feeling of unity with all who are part of our Movement and with the Christly healing mission that our Leader has given us. So great to hear of all the new and fresh growth starting to spring up in so many places around the world, sometimes in new or unexpected ways! And blessings, especially, to our new President and Readers of The Mother Church as they start out in their new adventures. Many, many thanks to them and the Board and all the officers and workers of our Mother Church!

  14. When I first saw the advertisements for Annual Meeting it really touched my heart...there's something wonderful how nature lovingly takes care of seeds planted....Watching this natural growth though often slow is very heartening....I love to take 'slips' from shrubs, ...plant and nurture them, see them grow roots (under the ground of course...but you can tell they are rooting by the new leaves they send out)....And it came to me that we are sometimes very like these 'slips' ...in our acceptance and study and practise of Christian Science.
    Some who come to the Reading Room, sometimes don't know why they came in...(perhaps they are just like the 'slips').....and the Christ in each one's consciousness can animate an interest in what they see and hear.....and before long a root of Truth may start to grow and prosper ....to at last develop into the feeling of being "rooted and grounded in love"....So we never need despair of our "slips".....just provide the garden soil (our love, our healing prayer, our Reading Rooms and churches) and the 'slips' will grow in ' the good soil and bring forth fruit'.....and blossom in healing.

  15. I loved Annual meeting and also appreciated the helpful comments here.

    Praying with one of the Daily's, ALERTNESS TO DUTY, helps me check on my seed planting.

    "It shall be the duty of every member of this Church to defend himself daily against aggressive mental suggestion, and not be made to forget nor to neglect his duty to God, to his Leader, and to mankind. By his works he shall be judged,-and justified or condemned." MBE Manual 42

    Lately, I've been thinking of seeds like a magnifying glass in thought rather than tiny things that grow. Through the lens of Science we see all ideas as fully developed and completely mature. The greatest contribution in honoring our duty to God, our Leader, and mankind would be to see all correctly - all planted and rooted in the Church universal and triumphant - individual masterpieces of infinite Life, Truth and Love. This clearer focus has been revealing more effective ways of propagating and nurturing Truth. There has been tangible good in several areas in my family. In my church family, where there are many wonderful workers, we have continuous healings, new faces, fresher types of music, great outreach at lectures and even new babies. In daily prayers for the world there are signs of loosening soil and appearing sprouts of universal love. I'm using the lens of Science, or should say it is using me, to focus on the permanent and ever-appearing nature of good.

    What a lush light-filled garden we live in. Metaphorically, we are all robust, glorious, perennial trees bursting with fruit and directly rooted in God. Mrs. Eddy speaks of the false creation of human birth, growth, maturity, age, decay, death as an unreal enigma. This is not the seed of God's planting. There is no withering away, entanglement, poison, lack of fruition or tilling the soil in God's garden - just God's ideas glowing in richly purposed harmony. Who wouldn't want to live there? And we do!

  16. Hi F. Nile, it is good that you bring this up, I was not aware of this meaning. It is quite an impressive picture that is drawn by this meaning. Do you really feel, that it fits to the current state of the activities in CS? It is good to know that, yes, there is work to do, we all can do better and I'm sure we all give our best every day, tomorrow will be better than today. Let us be patient, we all need support, we will reach the high goal step by step when we go together and help us. Even if the good seems to be so little to our view at the moment, it has the power to grow, when we nurture it with love. There is no need to give up. Nothing is beyond divine Love and Love's caring and enfolding. We are all included in this.

  17. Dear F. Nile, I found an article which describes somehow what I understood from your post:

    Just read this on The Christian Science Journal: "LEAVE THIS CHURCH ALONE!" http://journal.christianscience.com/shared/view/u2wqeko9xk?s=t