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.