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Evolution of Wednesday testimony meetings

"Praise Service"

From the May 1998 issue of The Christian Science Journal


The first issue of The Christian Science Journal in April 1883 carried a notice for "Public Lectures" held in Boston. These lectures were advertised as "free to all ... given every Thursday evening" at 7:30 and followed by a "discussion, and practical explanation of Christian Science." In the beginning, these were lectures by Mary Baker Eddy, the Founder of the Church of Christ, Scientist. These public gatherings were the first steps of what would evolve into the Wednesday evening meetings held by The Mother Church and its branches.

After a recess for the summer of 1883, the lectures resumed at the end of September on Friday evenings. A notice in the October 1883 Journal stated that Mrs. Eddy would "speak from time to time, during the season, assisted by her students." In the December Journal, "Strangers welcomed," was added to this notice.

As with the Sunday services of her Church, the essence of these evening gatherings was evangelical. That Mrs. Eddy founded an evangelical church is not surprising, considering that this was the nature of the Congregational church in which she grew up. When Mrs. Eddy asked in 1875 for a letter of dismissal from the Congregational church where she had been a member since girlhood, she was freeing herself to accept her students' invitation to preach to them and to hold Sabbath services. Up to that time, she had attended church services wherever she had resided, but she had kept her membership in the Tilton, New Hampshire, Congregational church where in 1838 Rev. Enoch Corser had examined her intent and found her reborn.See Retrospection and Introspection, pp. 13-16. A midweek meeting in these churches was not out of the ordinary. Prayer meetings addressing the needs of the community were common in rural Congregational churches of her day.

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