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Your Questions & Answers

Following the example set by the question-and-answer columns in the early Journals, when Mary Baker Eddy was Editor, this column will respond to general queries from Journal readers with responses from Journal readers. You’ll find information at the end of the column about how to submit questions. Readers are also encouraged to go to Chapter III of Miscellaneous Writings 1883–1896, by Mary Baker Eddy — “Questions and Answers.”

Why didn't the church inform fellow church members of someone's passing?

From the February 2012 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Q. This question has lingered in my thought for decades, but it came up recently when I learned through the proverbial grape vine, and not the Church, about the passing of a well-known Christian Scientist. I certainly respect every individual’s right to handle these things in their own way, and perhaps his family preferred having no church acknowledgment of his passing. Barring that, however, it strikes me as uncharacteristic of a “structure of Truth and Love” (our Church) not to directly inform fellow church members, who know and love him, of his passing and to acknowledge his contributions. Though it’s familiar behavior within our movement, this silence is something I struggle to understand. Can you help me understand the value of this approach? I do try to discern what may be an imposition versus what may be a wise and loving practice.
—From an e-mail

A. This question has been around for all the decades of the movement I believe. And there are intelligent and compassionate points on both sides of the issue of public notification of the passing of Christian Scientists.

Certainly the view you mention—that it appears cold and strange not to—is valid. On the other hand, we’ve wrestled with the fact that it’s hard to draw the line at who rises to the level of “importance” to be noted publicly. There are many teachers, lecturers, practitioners, frequent writers for the periodicals, and other well-known Christian Scientists who are loved by so many. If we announce one and not another, some may appear to be slighted. If we announce them all, we’d have the equivalent of obituaries in the Journal, Sentinel, or Herald, which doesn’t feel quite right. 

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