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Church sends out global call 'to live for all mankind'

By Robert C. Nelson, Staff writer of The Christian Science MonitorRobert Nelson is the Monitor's national news editor. / December 10, 1984


Through a satellite-linked global meeting over the weekend, The Church of Christ, Scientist, reaffirmed conviction in the power of prayer to change world conditions and pointed to the urgent need for individual lives dedicated to addressing and healing world problems.

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''To live for all mankind,'' was the meeting's theme, as denominational officers spoke from Boston and a panel of editors and reporters from The Christian Science Monitor spoke from Britain, where they had assembled from posts in the United States and overseas.

The meeting - transmitted from the auditorium of the original 1894 building of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, to six satellites - was relayed to 150 audiences in meeting rooms and churches in 145 cities in the United States and 24 other countries.

Discussion focused on such issues as the nuclear arms race, third-world needs , divisiveness in society, materialism, and communist ideology, as well as on the importance of realistic individual action, limited neither by false optimism nor reckless pessimism.

Although the gathering was called and organized primarily for Christian Scientists, members of other denominations indicated support for the unprecedented meeting.

The worldwide telecast was on the air from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Boston time Dec. 8, reaching Honolulu when it was 9 a.m. Saturday, and South Africa when it was 9 p.m. Saturday evening, the two time-zone extremes among the program's live audiences.

In Kenya, Nigeria, Australia, and New Zealand, local television stations videotaped the telecast during live transmission for playback Sunday afternoon Dec. 9. Videoconferencing engineers said the world scale of the meeting was ''more than twice as large as anything they had ever before attempted.''

The meeting repeatedly emphasized the need for individual rededication to the deeply spiritual, Christian precepts on which the denomination was founded 105 years ago. Members of The Christian Science Board of Directors, Christian Science lecturers, and the managers of The Christian Science Publishing Society and of the Church's committees on publication spoke from the standpoints of their particular offices. Two Sunday School pupils also spoke. 'A meeting about lives'

Harvey W. Wood, a member of the board of directors, said the meeting reflected a sense of ''spiritual urgency to address the needs of our fellow man at the deepest possible levels.''

''It is a meeting about lives,'' he said. ''It's about humanity. It's about what Christ demands of us today. It's about big hearts learning how to be bigger. Indifference to our fellow man and his needs is a sure symptom of little hearts and little minds. Today we are called upon to face dangers. But they can be faced, and when they are, the promises for mankind are beyond imagination.''

In behalf of The Christian Science Monitor, editor Katherine W. Fanning said the times demanded extraordinarily perceptive journalism in order to alert mankind ''not just to troubles but to the triumphs to be found in the world.''

She and the Monitor group cited extensive Monitor attention for several years to Africa's mounting famine crisis and to the paper's recent series that documented not only the vast tragic plight of starving millions but also the possibilities for reform of society, government, and agriculture in the area, and also the need for long- term, intelligent planning to correct the conditions that led to the present situation.

Bonn correspondent Elizabeth Pond similarly emphasized that fatalistic attitudes surrounding the arms race needed to be vigorously challenged. She enumerated a set of attitudes, broadly held and sometimes unconsciously accepted , that would prevent individuals from addressing the problems of nuclear confrontation honestly and arriving at realistic solutions.

''The arguments are that the problem is too complex and too terrifying to be understood,'' she said, ''that mere man is subject not only to individual destruction but to total annihilation and that our entire world is fragile; that some inexplicable evil power is driving mankind to exploit and kill his fellow man; and that there may simply be a mindless power that locks into some kind of self-perpetuating mutual fear that we can't break out of.''