Africa contributes biggest share of new members to Christian Science church
At its Annual Meeting, the church emphasizes global outreach, financial stewardship
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
That news, which preceded the church's Annual Meeting Monday in Boston, underscored the meeting's theme of "all with one accord in one place" – a reference to the unity of Christ Jesus' disciples on the day of Pentecost.
The theme stems from the extensive travels of the church's board of directors in recent years and their focus on the potential of church to heal political, ethnic, religious, and economic divisions facing humanity.
"We saw how important it is all over the world – where there is so much division and a feeling that we cannot solve long-standing conflicts – to start right at home and show we can overcome our differences and heal conflicts," said board chairman Margaret Rogers, in an interview before Annual Meeting. "If you can heal what's going on in the church, that begins to ripple out into society."
Phinney is new church president
The board appointed as president of the church Allison Phinney, a former senior editor of the church's periodicals.
Mr. Phinney, a Christian Science practitioner and teacher from Boston, is "well-known and loved by many of you for his many years of contributions to the periodicals," Mrs. Rogers said upon announcing his appointment Monday. His "clear, deep spiritual writing has blessed our field immensely," she said.
During his one-year term, Mr. Phinney will preside over a membership that is growing most rapidly in Africa. This year, new members were admitted from 30 countries, with the highest number of applications coming from the US, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Nigeria.
Sustainability for periodicals
The church's increasingly international outlook was reflected in reports from the Committee on Publication, the Board of Lectureship, the Treasurer's Office, and The Christian Science Monitor, as well as comments from the directors.
In a videotaped discussion, board member Mary Trammell, also editor in chief of The Christian Science Publishing Society, said the Monitor's transition to a Web-first strategy this spring represents a breakthrough. She and editor John Yemma suggested the Monitor is a pioneer, both in journalism and in the church's effort to make all four of its periodicals financially sustainable.
Board of Trustees Chair Judy Wolff reports that the approximate CSPS financials at the end of Fiscal Year 2009 are $27 million total revenue and $49 million total expense, resulting in a $22 million total deficit.
As part of cost-cutting, all nine quarterly editions of the foreign-language Herald of Christian Science are now published only online.