The recent formation of Christian Science fellowships is raising challenges to the standardized practices in Christian Scientist churches.
The independent Christian Science newsletter The Banner (winter) reports that two unofficial fellowships that have formed in Chicago and Chesterfield, Missouri have been trying to get formal recognition in the directory of the Christian Science Journal, although without much success. That may be because these fellowships are not using the church’s manual with the teachings of founder Mary Baker Eddy.
Instead, they are interspersing denominational sources with personal remarks and reading from unofficial manuscripts during services. Writer Andrew Hartsook adds that a blog put out by the Chicago fellowship listed reasons why people stop attending Christian Science services (which are showing steady membership losses). They included: no social activities, feelings of guilt for drinking on Saturday night and having medical treatment, and use of the King James Version of the Bible.
Recommendations included: use of small groups, more relaxed services with guitar music and praise hymns, opportunity for dialog, and less of an emphasis on healing.
(The Banner, 2040 Hazel Ave., Zanesville, OH 43701-2222)