Africa contributes biggest share of new members to Christian Science church
At its Annual Meeting, the church emphasizes global outreach, financial stewardship
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The new initiative could bolster the publication, said Mrs. Trammell and fellow director Walter Jones, who also serves as a Publishing Society trustee. While the directors were in Chandigarh, India, this past year, church members offered to translate articles from The Christian Science Sentinel and The Christian Science Journal if they could be shared online.Skip to next paragraph
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"I'm happy to say you can find articles in Hindi on the Herald website for the very first time," said Trammell. The initiative is expected to expand – next to Zulu.
Three years ago, the board of directors formed an international planning team to coordinate efforts to support church activities worldwide, says team chairman Doug Paul. Efforts include a dedicated position to help groups register as churches in countries with daunting bureaucracies and $1 million annually to send Christian Science literature to more than 250 informal groups and branch churches from Singapore to St. Petersburg, including 100 in Africa.
This past year, outgoing president Barbara Vining and Brian Talcott held dozens of workshops to rouse member support for church periodicals – work begun by former Monitor editor, the late Richard Bergenheim. In an interview, Mrs. Vining emphasized the complementary nature of their distinct missions. The Monitor, the fourth and last periodical to be established, represented church Founder Mary Baker Eddy's expanding vision for her church, she said. Mrs. Eddy, who established the church in 1879, wrote that its purpose is to "reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing."
Fewer funds on hand
Treasurer Ned Odegaard said efforts are under way to reverse the drain on church finances from the periodicals and real estate operations. These initiatives, he said, are in keeping with Mrs. Eddy's vision for a thriving church.
The church has no indebtedness, he reported Monday. However, current funds on hand – $379 million – are 24 percent lower than they were last year, as a result of the drop in financial markets. The church's general fund, which constitutes $135 million of that larger pool, fell by 18 percent since last year.
Plans are also afoot to redesign the church plaza, said Barbara Burley, senior manager of real estate planning. Working with the local community, the church intends to rebuild the reflecting pool to be more resource-efficient and to add buildings on "select edges" of the plaza, while maintaining open space and respecting historic design.
The meeting closed with an extended minute of silent prayer following an interactive presentation of "Siyahamba," a song from the new hymnal supplement that was designed to be more international, lively, and youthful than the 1932 hymnal. Soloist Julia Wade introduced videotaped congregations from San Juan Capistrano, Calif., to Cape Town, South Africa, singing verses, and then invited the congregation to join in.