For Christian Science Church, fresh focus on healing, youth outreach

At its annual meeting Monday at its Boston headquarters, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, rededicated itself to being "a church of healers," a phrase that provided the meeting's theme. Church members and friends gathered to hear reports and talks on the centrality of Christian healing to the church's mission.

The meeting, held in the church's domed edifice, was broadcast live over the Internet. The webcast is available for replay at www.tfccs.com.

"The healing of limitations, frustrations, estrangements, fears, as well as the healing of sin, sickness, and death," is the goal the church continues to cherish, said the five-member board of directors in a written welcome to members. Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer and founder of Christian Science, established this goal when she founded her church. (Mrs. Eddy also founded this newspaper, and the church acts as its publisher.)

Outgoing church president Heloisa Rivas told of spending the past year visiting Christian Science churches in 11 Latin American countries. In some parts of the region, she said, Christian Scientists now have been active for nearly 100 years.

A video report from Africa included a Cameroonian woman who told of her healing of HIV through prayer alone. Another woman told of being healed of malaria. In a later session, a former medical nurse from Naperville, Ill., explained that she had been diagnosed as suffering from multiple sclerosis and had been healed through prayer. She then became a Christian Science nurse.

In another video report, other members from the local Christian Science church in Naperville told how they had set up a committee to explore how they could focus more strongly on healing through prayer. "A lot of it has to do with being willing" to help others, one member said.

In a brief report on finances, Ned Odegaard, church treasurer, reported that the church's General Fund had grown from $46 million at this time in 2004 to $66 million today. The church spent $97 million during its last fiscal year, and it has a total of $361 million in funds on hand, with no indebtedness, added Nathan Talbot, chairman of the board of directors.

In April, the church announced that it was considering leasing two buildings on its Boston campus and that it had decided to sell two homes where Mrs. Eddy had once lived. The board did not elaborate on these moves at the annual meeting. But Mr. Odegaard did say the church was moving to reduce the demand that real estate holdings currently make on its time and money in order to direct its resources more fully to its healing mission.

The board also noted that the church had received its first new members from mainland China in many decades. In an earlier bulletin to employees, it said that the newest group of members accepted this year come from 42 countries. The church does not announce membership figures.

Two one-hour "special presentation" meetings followed the annual meeting. "Christian Science practice and nursing" explored how members have moved toward the full-time healing ministry.

A presentation on "Youth" emphasized the church's commitment to young people. Two new online products for them are to be introduced. One, called My Bible Lesson (www.mybiblelesson.com), is intended to help teens and young adults explore the church's weekly Bible Lesson, and the other, tmcyouth.com, will provide a place for youths around the world to connect with one another and explore the healing purpose of the church.

David Reed, a life devoted to healing

David Reed, who had been elected president of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, passed on in Boston on Monday. His life was devoted to the practice of Christian healing.

Nathan Talbot, clerk of The Mother Church and chairman of the Board of Directors, expressed the board's deep regret at losing their valued colleague.

For 14 years, Mr. Reed served on the committee that develops the weekly Bible lessons that form the core of Christian Science church services and members' daily study. He had the deepest love for the Bible, and his work brought into sharp focus both the inspiration it provides for daily life and its healing power.

The Bible and "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy serve as the Pastor of the Christian Science Church. "David," Mr. Talbot said, "was a deep, consecrated student of both these books, and his understanding of them shined through all he did."

- Staff

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