First Church of Christ, Scientist, London, England
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE is just of age in Europe, as it was in 1890 that Mrs. Eddy sent the first worker to London, and an office was opened in Hanover square. Those early days demanded untold patience and perseverance. Even the Radical elements in England are renowned for their conservatism. In this very conservatism, however, lie durable foundations. The progress, though it may have been slow, has been extraordinarily sure. Today, Christian Science is established in a way which it is beyond human will to uproot. Six years passed, and then, in 1896, the first public meeting in Europe was held in the Portman rooms. These filled so rapidly that a year later the disused synagogue in Bryanston street was acquired, and opened Nov. 7, 1897, as the first permanent home of the Christian Science cause in London. This was the occasion of Mrs. Eddy's first message to the movement in Europe, as follows:
Today a nation is born. Spiritual apprehension unfolds, transfigures, heals. With you be there no more sea, no ebbing faith, no night. Love be thy light upon the mountain of Israel. God will multiply thee.
The attendance increased rapidly, but it was not until June, 1900, that First Church, London, was formed. After this the progress was even more rapid, and it was found necessary to abandon Bryanston street in favor of an empty Wesleyan chapel, standing on part of a freehold site in Chelsea. During the occupation of the chapel the Thanksgiving service was read for the first time, but on New Year day, as there is no Thanksgiving day in England. On hearing of this, Mrs. Eddy wrote to the Teachers' Association:—
Your letter and dottings are an oasis in my wilderness world, they point to verdant pastures, and are already rich rays from the eternal sunshine of Love lighting and leading humanity into paths of peace and holiness. Your "Thanksgiving day," instituted in England on New Year day, was a step in advance—it expressed your thanks, and gave to the "happy new year" a higher hint. You are not roused to this action by the allurements of wealth, pride, or power; the impetus comes from above, it is moral, spiritual, divine. All hail to this higher hope that neither slumbers nor is stilled by the cold impulse of a lesser gain ! It rejoices me to know you know that healing the sick, soothing sorrow, brightening this lower sphere with the ways and means of the higher, everlasting harmony—brings to light the perfect, original man and universe. What nobler achievement, what greater glory can nerve your endeavor? Press on, my heart and hope are with you.As soon as possible, the consideration of the building plans was undertaken, and operations were commenced on the vacant portion of the land. The corner-stone was laid Nov. 29, 1904, which brought from Mrs. Eddy the following message:—
You have laid the corner-stone of your church edifice impressively, and buried immortal truths in the bosom of earth, safe from all chance to be challenged. You whose labors are doing so much to benefit mankind, will not be impatient if you have not accomplished all you desire, nor will you be long in doing more. My faith in God and in His followers rests in the fact that He is infinite good, and He gives them opportunity to use their hidden virtues—to put into practice the power which lies concealed in the calm, and which storms awaken to vigor and to victory. It is only by looking heavenward that mutual friendships such as ours can begin and never end. Over sea and over land Christian Science unites its true followers on one Principle, the divine Love, that sacred are and essence of Soul which makes them one in Christ.
"Thou art not here for ease or pain,
But manhood's glorious crown to gain."
In August, 1905, the first half of the building was opened for services. The auditorium filled almost as soon as it was completed, and the work of removing the Wesleyan chapel and continuing the building over the entire site was soon after begun. Two years later the auditorium was finished, and one Wednesday night, immediately after service, the work of breaking down the partition between the two halves was undertaken, and the following Sunday the first service was held in the entire building, which seats sixteen hundred people. The cost of the structure was about forty thousand pounds, making with that of the site an expenditure of nearly eighty thousand pounds.
Commenting on this occasion, the London Chronicle thus summarizes the standing of Christian Science in England:—
Less than a decade ago, one little church, with a seating capacity of some two hundred and fifty, and a score or so of members, represented all there was of Christian Science in England. Today that one meeting has grown to eighty, and that handful of members into thousands. Whatever opinion one may hold as to the tenets of Christian Scientists, one cannot doubt that the sect has become firmly rooted in England.
On Sunday, June 13, 1909, the dedication took place. From that hour, Mrs. Eddy's words have been fulfilled, "God will multiply thee."
First Church of Christ, Scientist, Milwaukee, Wis.
The state of Wisconsin is well up in the list of pioneers in the propaganda of Christian Science, an office for the practice of Christian Science healing being opened in Milwaukee as early as 1883. As a result of the healing of the sick then accomplished, the new teaching was taken up by several earnest thinkers, two of them going to Boston in December of that year for a course under the tuition of Mrs. Eddy. On their return the work of healing was followed with vigor, and as the interest increased classes were held for instruction in the rudiments of metaphysical healing, public meetings being held on Friday evenings, sometimes in private houses or occasionally in some office. This body of workers organized and incorporated as Church of Christ, Scientist, in 1889, taking the title of First Church in December, 1897.
In the mean time other students of Mrs. Eddy entered upon the work, and in December, 1887, formed the Christian Science Public Service Society. Services were held on Thursday evenings in a rented hall, and later regular Sunday services and Friday evening meetings. In January, 1892, the members of this society became a corporate body under the name of The Milwaukee Church of Christ, Scientist, the title being changed to Second Church of Christ, Scientist, in October, 1899. An advance step was taken when in April, 1904, these two bodies dissolved their respective organizations, and came together as First Church of Christ, Scientist. This was also the occasion for the dedication of the red brick structure built by the former First Church in 1902 on Van Buren street at a cost of forty-two thousand dollars. In January, 1906, Third and Fourth churches, which were organized respectively in 1901 and 1903, also united with First Church.
The body of workers thus harmoniously brought together is indicative of how deep and wide-spread the interest in Christian Science had become in Milwaukee, and how sincere was the desire for genuine advancement of the cause, as demonstrated in the overcoming of obstacles in the way of seeming inharmony, lack, selfishness, and pride, and the bringing out of love, singleness of purpose, and good fellowship among its members. Its first home having been outgrown, for a time Sunday services were held in Pabst theater; but, responsive to the need for an edifice of its own, First Church erected, and dedicated with four services on March 14, 1909, a magnificent building, at a cost, including the land, of one hundred and twenty-five thousand dollars. It is interesting to note that the lot utilized for this purpose was originally the property of the former Second Church, it having been purchased with the intent of erecting an edifice thereon. Ground was broken on May 27, 1907, and the corner-stone of the edifice was laid the following August. Rapid progress had been made in the construction when in February, 1908, the building was destroyed by fire, making it necessary to tear down the walls and remove the debris before beginning to rebuild; but this seeming delay was as a spur to further zeal and activity on the part of the members, and even the children did valiant service in a commendable spirit of unselfishness and self-denial.
The church is located at the corner of Prospect avenue and Keene street, in the heart of the most desirable residence section, and though the auditorium has twelve hundred sittings, almost from the start morning and evening services were required to accommodate the steadily increasing congregation, again giving proof that "in union is strength."
First Church of Christ, Scientist, Toronto, Ont.
Within a decade after the organization of The Mother Church, Christian Science had gained a foothold not only in the principal cities of the United States, but had even crossed the border into British territory. It was to the group of Christian Scientists in Toronto that Mrs. Eddy wrote, a few years later, in loving acknowledgment of a gift sent by them to her Concord home:—
Across lakes, into a kingdom, I reach out my hand to clasp yours, with this silent benediction: May the kingdom of heaven come in each of your hearts! (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 143.)
It was in 1887 that a Christian Science practitioner brought to the city of Toronto a knowledge of the healing truth as it is set forth in Christian Science. The following year another came, and together they worked in sowing the seed which was afterward to ripen and bring forth much fruit. In this year, too, the first few students were taught. The following year the need for regular public services was felt, and in February a little company of thirteen met and discussed church organization, but it was not until October of the same year that a church was organized with a membership of about twenty, and arrangements were made for the use of a public hall on Spadina avenue This was considered an important undertaking, meetings heretofore having been held in a private house; but the wisdom of this progressive step was more than justified, for the congregation grew in numbers until it was found necessary to seek larger quarters, and in 1891 a more suitable and commodious hall was secured, at the corner of College street and Brunswick avenue, where services were held till 1895.
During these years there was much healing done, a number of classes were taught, and students went out to establish the work in other cities of the province. The work met with more or less opposition, and several efforts were made to prevent Christian Scientists from practising; but this opposition only served to bring more prominently before the public the good work that was being quietly and effectively done, and the membership continued to increase steadily, until it was thought advisable again to seek larger quarters. In October, 1895, the old Reformed Episcopal church, which had been vacant for some time, was leased for a term of three years, with the privilege of buying, and the first service was held in this church on the second Sunday of the same month. Two years later the property was purchased, and arrangements were made to remodel and enlarge it to its present size. The corner-stone of the remodeled church was laid in March, 1898, and it is interesting to note that this cornerstone was the first in the British empire to contain a copy of the Christian Science text-book, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" by Mary Baker Eddy. In June the dedication took place, many Scientists being present from all parts of Ontario and a number from neighboring cities of the United States. It was a time of great rejoicing and a source of help and encouragement to those who had followed the growth of the work from its small beginning. It has been said that it was "like all Christian Science work,—it meant demonstration every step of the way." As the crowning joy of the occasion, a telegram was received from Mrs. Eddy, which read as follows:—
Have just received your despatch. Since the world was, men have not heard with the ear, neither hath the eye seen, what God hath prepared for them that wait upon Him and work righteousness (Journal, August, 1898).
Dating from this event, the church has continued to prosper, one of the most important features of its subsequent progress in this city being the union of First and Second churches in December, 1906. The church was legally incorporated under the Ontario Companies act in 1907. In the same year a beautiful lot was purchased in one of the best residential sections of the city, and a building fund commenced for a new church with considerably larger seating capacity. It is hoped that active building operations will commence on the new structure in the near future. The growth in numbers in this conservative city may seem to have been rather slow when compared with that made in some of the larger cities of the United States, but the progress has been substantial and continuous, based as it was upon foundations that had been well laid, and Christian Science now commands the respect of the general public in Toronto and throughout Ontario.
First Church of Christ, Scientist, Kansas City, Mo.
It was in the summer of 1886 that the seed of Christian Science was first sown in Kansas City, Mo., and a few months later a little band of earnest seekers, organized as a Christian Science society, was holding meetings each week at the home of one of its members for the study of the Bible in the light of Christian Science teaching. By July, 1890, the membership had doubled, and the first Christian Science church in Missouri was organized under a state charter, a small hall in Gibraltar building being used for services. On the foundation thus laid, has been reared, in the spirit of love, self-sacrifice, and humility, a constant realization of the allness of God and the nothingness of every claim of error, the splendid working body on record as First Church of Christ, Scientist, a church liberal not only in its provision for local needs but in its generous contributions to the building fund for The Mother Church as well.
In 1897 First, Second, and Third churches came together under the charter of First Church, and services were held in the Unitarian church on West Tenth street. In the mean time plans for the present edifice at the corner of Ninth street and Forest avenue were formulated, and the beautiful structure, builded in love and in exemplification of the universal brotherhood of this church, was completed and dedicated on Christmas day, 1898, just a year from the date of the laying of its corner-stone. Three services were held that day, and an added joy came in a telegram from Mrs. Eddy as follows:—
My heart greets you with Christmas joy. Continue, fellow-worshipers, vigilant in that whereto God calleth thee. Unity imparts the spirit of the trinity. Opinions of men are not substitutes for Science. Be patient with misjudgment. Christ, Truth, overcometh error. Today is tomorrow understood. Love maketh right prosperous. Pure hearts and clean hands upbuild the cause and Church of Christ, Scientist. Have one God; live in conformity therewith, obedient thereto, governed thereby.
By 1909 the congregation had grown to such an extent that more room was needed, and plans were made to enlarge the church by adding two wings, one on the south side, fifty by one hundred and twenty-five feet, for a lecture auditorium and class rooms, the other on the west, thirty by seventy-five, for a cloak room. Scarcely had the south wing been completed when another test of faith came on Jan. 29, 1910, in the destruction of the church, the original cost of which was ninety thousand dollars. The fire was on Saturday night, but services were held the following morning at the usual hour in the Auditorium theater. There was no delay, however, in the work of rebuilding, and in seven months services were being held in the new structure. This made the total cost of the property, including the lecture auditorium and the land therefor, one hundred and eighty-four thousand dollars. A check for one hundred dollars to aid in the rebuilding was sent by Mrs. Eddy. The cost of such a structure is not to be estimated in dollars alone, but in the patience, forbearance, long suffering, perseverance, and self-sacrifice developed through experience, and indicative of the spirit of progress which has marked the course of the church throughout the years.
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