Every branch Church of Christ, Scientist, is needed in its local community, and has a unique niche to fill. A Christian Science lecture supports the invaluable role of each branch church.
“Each individual must fill his own niche in time and eternity,” wrote Mary Baker Eddy, Founder of the Christian Science movement and its Board of Lectureship (Retrospection and Introspection, p. 70). A niche is something distinct. Each branch church, just like each individual that makes up the membership of the branch, has a unique, God-ordained purpose and is a God-originated expression that is not the same as any other. We aren’t made to fill someone else’s role, or even fulfill our own role in the same way that someone else is fulfilling theirs.
Each local community is unique, too, and the role a branch church plays in its community is God-ordained and invaluable; it can’t be duplicated. Our neighbors are in need of health, more love-filled relationships, and freedom from patterns of thought and behavior that stymie progress. Christian Science has something unique to offer those hungry hearts. Our neighbors often need to learn something about Christian Science, though, or have specific misconceptions addressed, before they could be interested in finding out more about what Christian Science has to offer. And that’s exactly what a lecture on Christian Science is designed to do.
There’s a useful connection between the premise that we have a God-impelled reason for being in our local communities and the way we pray about the Christian Science lectures we host.
In a way, a lecture is like a specific Christian Science treatment. The most important part of the work isn’t tied to an outward human event or speech. As valuable as the lecture event itself is, it’s not ultimately the audible words that heal, or any individual that transforms the experience of another. It’s Truth itself, God, that heals. And the light of divine Truth and Love shines through the specific prayers that the Christian Scientists and the lecturer offer for the local community. The lecture event and the community engagement it engenders are an avenue for the everlasting love of God, which is always clearing away misconceptions and guiding individuals forward in what is true and good.
Building on that point, one question I’ve heard a number of folks raise this year is: With the availability of Christian Science lectures online, why not simply watch or share a video of a lecture called for by another branch rather than have a dedicated lecture for one’s own local community?
Many people have benefited from watching an online lecture hosted by another branch, or by hosting a viewing of such a lecture within their Reading Room, but there is always something unique about calling for a dedicated lecture tailored to one’s own community. While many Christian Scientists pray daily for all of humanity, the specific prayer that’s knowingly offered for our own local communities is distinct. No one else is in a position to fill that niche quite like the individuals living there.
Revisiting our comparison with Christian Science treatment, one could never merely read or repeat the outward actions of another’s Christian Science treatment and hope to achieve similar healing results. Why? Because healing treatment listens for the specific, God-given inspirations tailored to an individual’s needs and thinking at any given moment. The issues humanity faces are not all that unique, but the spiritual truths which meet every human need have infinite intelligence, divine Mind, behind them and are freshly tailored for each of us every moment. So, like in treatment, even if the spoken content of a Christian Science lecture covers similar ground to that of the same basic lecture given for another community, the inspirations which heal aren’t tied as much to the outward words as to the specific prayer of the sponsoring branch. To really see the value of a lecture is to embrace and deeply value this spiritual, mental effort for the local community and understand how it works.
It’s also worth noting that lecturers give much time and consecrated effort to praying for each lecture and for each community. Lecturers are trained to be actively listening for God’s guidance before, during, and after the lecture. They strive to act on the specific inspirations that help them adapt the core ideas of their lectures to meet the perceptions of the communities for which they lecture.
The lecturer and the branch members who have called for the lecture are equals, teammates in bearing witness to the presence and activity of divine Truth in the local community, and in acting on the specific inspirations that come from their prayers.
One essential issue we can prayerfully respond to together is the persistent temptation to believe that the members of our own local community just aren’t currently interested in what Christian Science has to offer. This conclusion is often arrived at after many years of trying different approaches for hosting lectures and other forms of community outreach. But I’d suggest that this is one of the most important misconceptions that needs to be seen for what it is and overcome. It simply will not be resolved by outward changes or the passage of time, nor by accepting it as a true or unavoidable reality.
The fact that we are in our communities for a reason, and that we are needed, should be seen as two key premises in the conclusion that we can uplift the mental atmosphere where we are, and handle as a false premise, not as a reality, the appearance that our neighbors are too busy, too materialistic, too disheartened by misunderstandings, too ignorant about God, or too . . . anything else, to be open to the resources of Christian Science, which is here to save them and our world from suffering of all kinds.
Salvation has come to humanity through Christ as explained in Christian Science, and whatever would seem to stand in the way of humanity’s ability to receive and experience that salvation does not truly have the power to distract and hold anyone hostage in the way that it might seem. We face a metaphysical issue, and it will be met and mastered metaphysically—that is, by exposing its baselessness and discovering more of what’s true about how God has created everyone: innocent, Godlike, receptive to truth, responsive to truth, and loving what’s universally true for all. This is not an abstract statement; it’s a fact of reality that can be proved as we give our consent to God each day to discover something brand new about what’s true, and build on those facts.
Our efforts to bring about healing in our communities also bring about wider benefits. While considering the unique niche our local efforts fill within our community, it’s natural for our prayers to be unlimited in their universal embrace of humanity. We actually best fulfill our duty to humanity when we are tangibly proving the saving ability of divine Truth and Love in our own lives and communities. As Paul wrote, “So we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another” (Romans 12:5, New Revised Standard Version). The other members of the “body in Christ”—our neighbors everywhere—feel the effects of our spiritual breakthroughs, just as we are benefited by the prayers and healing proofs of others.
Filling our distinct niche in our healing embrace of our local community is part of the collective work of the Christian Science movement and has a cumulative effect. God empowers our humble and heartfelt efforts and multiplies the effects of every good seed sown. Thank you for all you’re doing.
Manager, Christian Science Board of Lectureship
Now the God of patience and consolation
grant you to be like-minded one toward
another according to Christ Jesus:
that ye may with one mind and
one mouth glorify God, even the
Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In accordance with Article XXXI, Section 1, of the Church Manual, the Christian Science Board of Directors has elected the following members to serve as lecturers from July 1, 2021, through June 30, 2022.
Arneth, Heike, CSB
Aubin, Edwina, CSB
Cleveland, Queensland, Australia
Bikai, James Pascal, CSB
Bothwell, Mary, CSB
Pasadena, California, US
Ehrenhardt, Nicole, CS
Fischer, Alexandre, CS
Frederick, Nate, CS
Boothbay, Maine, US
Frizotti, Evelin, CSB
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Glokpor, Rodger, CSB
Hegarty, Janet, CSB
St. Louis, Missouri, US
Hockley, Phillip, CS
St. Louis, Missouri, US
Kisonga, André, CSB
Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo
Klein, Juliane, CSB
McCurties, Mark, CS
Ann Arbor, Michigan, US
McElroy, Tom, CSB
Boston, Massachusetts, US
Melville, Anne, CSB
Kaikohe, Northland, New Zealand
Nanouche, Michelle, CSB
Passaglia, Mónica, CSB
Caseros, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Pitts, Lesley, CS
Plymouth, Massachusetts, US
Salt, Steven, CSB
Columbus, Ohio, US
Shepherd, James, CS
Eugene, Oregon, US
Signs, Fujiko, CSB
State College, Pennsylvania, US,
and Tokyo, Japan
Tetreau, Giulia Nesi, CSB
Fairfield, Connecticut, US
Troseth, Lisa, CS
Rogers, Arkansas, US
Wahlberg, Melanie, CS
Lake Forest, California, US
Woodard, Patricia C., CS
Dallas, Texas, US
Young, Lyle, CSB
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada