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Reaching across cultures

From the October 2011 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Recently I have gained a deep appreciation for the continuity that the Manual of The Mother Church gives to the ongoing life of Christian Science today. To my sense, this slim book has an undergirding Principle expressed in its pages, while leaving room for Soul’s qualities to guide branch churches in applying its rules to their unique needs. Its By-Laws are fundamental enough that they can be adhered to throughout all time, but flexible enough to be adapted to various cultures. They can be followed by any individual, and they embrace the diversity of the whole world’s population. The Manual leaves room for the inclusive capacities of Church, but at the same time has requirements that ensure spiritual unity.

The By-Laws in the Manual, and the love they represent, protected and forwarded my own church-going experience. They enabled my family to partake of regular church attendance when we moved to a foreign country. In a culture very different from our own, being part of a church and Sunday School supported us.

In the 1950s, when I was eight years old, our family moved from the United States to Caracas, Venezuela. We were pleased to find a Christian Science group meeting in the city. That group of dedicated individuals held church services in a tall office building and set up card tables in a hallway for Sunday School. It was in this Sunday School that I first learned to pray for myself. The inclusive love and the good teaching by individuals from a number of different countries were highlights of the week, and drew us all together in friendship. These bonds remained a source of strength as the country went through a military coup, ousted a dictator, and began setting up a democracy.

At the beginning of our four years in Venezuela, the informal Caracas group was able to form a Christian Science Society because my mother was a Mother Church member, and she rounded out the number of members required at that time to form a society. That group later progressed to having a full-time Christian Science practitioner and eventually became a branch church. I am deeply grateful for the provision in the Manual for societies and branch churches, which gave security and stability to our family during a time that often contained many uncertainties. 

The Manual is so timeless that it still operates, serving as a vehicle for progress and flexibility in contemporary church life, helping to attract individuals everywhere to the blessings of knowing Truth.


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