Annual Meeting appeal; Help meet world's needs through 'spiritual strength'
Boston — Church reaches its highest level of strength and usefulness only when members are committed to "spiritual humility, purity, holiness," said Hal M. Friesen in the keynote address to the Annual Meeting of members of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts.
"Living according to our Master's Christly example," said Mr. Friesen, Chairman of The Christian Science Board of Directors, "enables us to respond to what humanity really needs. Christliness is also required of each of us if our church is going to reflect in greater degree the Church Universal and Triumphant."
In an appeal to Christian Scientists to "detect the yearning of people everywhere to be delivered from fears, and hurts, and desperation," Mr. Friesen Monday reminded an audience of several thousand members gathered from around the world that "when spiritual strength, Christly courage, and deep compassion are lived, they conquer selfishness, stop addiction, blot out disease, sensuality, greed, discrimination, and hate."
"Mankind seeks out and responds," he said, "to those whose lives bear witness to the healing Christ, who compassionately seek their own in another's good.These times," he emphasized, "call for visible and active brotherhood."
Members came to the 86th Annual Meeting from many parts of the world. There are branches of the Church of Christ, Scientist, in 56 countries today. The church was founded in 1879 by religious leader Mary Baker Eddy.
Named President of The Mother Church for 1981-82 was Berthe S. Girardin of Paris, France, a teacher and public practitioner of Christian Science and a former Christian Science lecturer.
In the Board's keynote message and throughout the business and inspirational sessions of two days of meetings, the denomination's deep Christian roots are being emphasized under a theme of "spiritual leadership and active following."
Mr. Friesen recalled Mrs. Eddy's own description of the denomination's first founding steps: "To organize a church designed to commemorate the word and works of our Master, which should reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing."
"It may seem, at times," he said, "that much of mankind is determined to continue to exalt the material over the spiritual, the superficial over the substantial."
"Where else than in awakening to spiritual reality can deliverance be found? What else but spiritual leadership," he asked, "can we safely follow?"
Outgoing Board Chairman Jean Stark Hebenstreit called upon members for "more courageous commitment to Christly living, for radical reliance which will bring convincing demonstration of God's ever-presence and unassailable law."
"Christian loyalty and spiritual bravery," she reminded members, "always go hand in hand. They guarantee that the models we follow in our lives heal and bless."
Reports of other Church officers reflected a wide range of denominational activities during the 1981-82 church year:
* Treasurer Michael A. West reported increased contributions from members, which have strengthened unrestricted and restricted funds. He spoke in particular of the continuing growth of the Endowment Fund for The Christian Science Monitor, now totaling $10,800,000. Mrs. Hebenstreit reported the church completely free of debt.
* James Spencer, Chairman of the church's Board of Lectureship, reported that more than 3,200 Christian Science lectures in 22 languages were given around the world in the past year. "The times," he said, "require that we all seek out and present spiritual answers to the deep questions agitating our communities and world."
* Allison W. Phinney, Manager, Committees on Publication, spoke of sharply increased activity and also widespread station acceptance of the television program "One Hundred Years Young -- A Centennial for Christian Science." He also noted significant continuing legislative acceptance into law of the right to rely on Christian Science for healing.
* Frederic C. Owen, Chairman of The Board of Trustees of The Christian Science Publishing Society, noted that despite the high costs of publishing in inflationary times, production and distribution of The Christian Science Monitor and of the church's religious periodicals continue "to refresh and regenerate all mankind." They do so, said Mr. Owen, in the face of "wave after wave of blinding, self-mesmerizing fads and fashions."
Mr. Owen noted, for example, that Monitor news "goes out in ever-widening circles" to 310 radio stations with 6.5 million listeners per week through the paper's radio news service and to 46 television stations in some of the largest cities in the United States, and to 211 newspapers around the world with 16.5 million readers through the Monitor's news service for print publications.
Two related inspirational meetings will convene today at 9:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. The morning meeting focuses on the spiritual foundation of Christian Science publishing; the evening meeting centers on the practice of Christian Science healing.