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At Christian Scientists' meeting, a call to engage with Christian community

The Annual Meeting of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, held June 4 in Boston, urged a closer dialogue and fellowship with Christians of other denominations – part of an effort to look outward.

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Mr. Young and Bosede Bakarey, a Christian Science lecturer and teacher based in Nigeria, both noted that healing through prayer in Christian Science is being seen in Africa, including cases of AIDS. 

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The website of The Christian Science Monitor, published by the church, received more than 12 million unique visitors in May alone, making its journalism more available than ever to readers, reported John Yemma, editor of the Monitor. A new online website, JSH-Online, an online archive of more than 100 years' worth of articles and testimonies of healing from the church’s religious periodicals, went live in April. In its first month it recorded more than 1 million page views by visitors, said Dorothy Estes, editor of the periodicals.

In a brief financial report, Nathan Talbot, chairman of the board of directors, said that the church had $499 million in funds on hand, that it had spent $99 million during its last fiscal year, and that it was free of indebtedness.

The Christian Science Church is in an “active ecumenical dialogue” with the National Council of Churches, said Shirley Paulson, who serves as the church’s head of ecumenical affairs. According to its website, the NCC represents 40 million Americans from 37 different faith traditions in 100,000 local congregations in the United States. Eddy was “a reformer of Christianity” who is “bringing us to Jesus, to be disciples of Jesus,” Ms. Paulson said. Christian Scientists now serve on four NCC commissions. The Christian Science Church is not a member of the NCC, but a dialogue about possible membership is under way, she said.

There is more in common between Christian Science and other faith traditions than many have realized, Manchester said in a pre-meeting interview. “There’s evidence that [Christian Science] has broad appeal to people across faith backgrounds, that Eddy was a writer who spoke in very universal terms about the practicality of Christ Jesus’ teachings,” he said. “And there are lots of people studying and practicing Christian Science that are within their own churches, within their own faith traditions and backgrounds.

“We have at times isolated ourselves from that Christian discussion, and there’s a perception that Christian Science is not Christian,” he continued. “But the more we are willing to be in dialogue with those of other faiths, the more people realize in many cases that there’s just a need to get past semantics. When you really get down to it you see how deeply Christian [Eddy] is as an author and as a thinker.”

A replay of the webcast of the church’s annual meeting, as well as of several related meetings before and after, is available.

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