One of the most important articles ever published by the Journal regarding the Christian Science movement is the wonderful story of First Church, Seattle, in the January 2009 edition ["A Church in Transition," p. 12]. For those of us who love and utilize this religion, the feeling of declining membership is not good—yet my experience is not rare. I am a lifelong Christian Scientist and a member of The Mother Church for over 50 years. Twenty years ago I tried to join a branch church near our home. I passed with flying colors—except for the rule that two non-board members had to sign my application. I didn't know the membership well, but two of the board members had known me and my parents for decades. But the rule could not be changed; the rest of the board decided that the signing rule could not be altered. So my time, money, and enthusiasm went on to other things. That branch church's membership dwindled, and it no longer exists.
My father was in the acting business for many years. During the time he was a Reader, he realized that church services were rote and stiff, and that readers had no training. He taught the Second Reader to read with his same skill and understanding. Church services grew to two sessions and overflowed into side rooms. He tried to suggest more joyous, inclusive, explanatory services. Much to his frustration, suggestions that altered the exact way it had always been done were not taken well by his branch board or contacts at The Mother Church.
Years later my young nephew was elected First Reader in a beautiful big church. The pews were shockingly empty, yet his attempts to uplift the services were met with a calcified board. By the end of his term he was so distraught at the arguing and pettiness that he left the church and no longer attends.