Church Directors press need for spiritual progress

The Christian Science Board of Directors made clear in its 1980 keynote message June 3 that Christian Scientists owed themselves and the world "humbler dependence on divine guidance and deeper understanding of what Christian discipleship really means."

The Directors' message was delivered to an overflow meeting of members of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston. The Church's Annual Meeting June 2 was the first of the denomination's second century. Last year's Annual Meeting marked the centennial of the Church of Christ, Scientist, founded in 1879 by New England religious leader Mary Baker Eddy.

The Board's statement was presented during the first of two inspirational meetings related to the Annual Meeting. It was delivered by incoming Board Chairman Jean Stark Hebenstreit, who said, "The time has come for all of us to have a larger view of Christian Science and its mission. Only so can we turn materialism's aggressive claims of superior power into blessed opportunities for spiritual progress."

Mrs. Hebenstreit recalled that "when Mary Baker Eddy in the Church Manual forbade numbering the members of our churches, she took a stand: that the successful mission of the Church doesn't depend on mere numbers -- or on worldly power, prestige, wealth, or propaganda. It depends on the demonstrated spirituality of its members, their love and faithfulness, and spiritual intelligence, their healing works."

The Board's message frequently admonished Christian Scientists to maintain a broad vision of their responsibilities throughout society: "Our own thinking must be spiritually deepended and broadened and kept keenly alert to the swirling crosscurrents of present- day mortal thought in order that we . . . can heal the prevalent ills challenging the whole world."

Making reference to the emphasis of Annual Meeting week this year on the Sermon on the Mount as a "standard for mankind," Mrs. Hebenstreit noted that "the Master brought the blessing of spiritual vision right into the midst of human need. That same spiritual vision of his day is central to our responsibilities in these times. Let's make no mistake about it," she added, "neither his caring for the multitude nor the Christliness of our Master was part of some lost or forgotten time. The multitude and the Christ are with us now. As followers of Jesus, we must pay faithful attention to both."

The Board warned against thinking of Christian Science as "one more form of optimism or positive thinking. Actually, Christian Science calls for the most realistic form of thinking the world has ever known."

"With the urgencies of global problems, shortages, excesses, environmental crises, moral disintegration, and threatened nuclear annihilation, the time for thinkers, deep metaphysicians, able healers, is upon us and pressing. It calls, " said the Board, "for thinking more incisively, and living above the shallow materialism of the day."

Speakers at the Tuesday evening inspirational meeting stressed four particular aspects of the Sermon on the Mount: the Lord's Prayer, the Beatitudes , its emphasis on deeds as well as words, and its insights into the necessity of countering worldly, evil influences through the Christly insights of the Sermon.

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