Item of Interest

The terms of office of Readers in branch churches, and the eligibility of members for election to the Readership, are subjects which interest many church members, especially when elections are approaching. Inquiries are often made of The Mother Church as to whether one who has previously served a term as Reader in a branch church or society, or in the services of a group not yet recognized by The Mother Church, may again act as Reader. Some inquirers refer to the Manual of The Mother Church (Art. I. Sect. 4), but do not distinguish that this By-Law is applicable to The Mother Church only, and neither in its text, nor in its context, applies to branch churches. Article III, Sections 1 to 8 inclusive, guide both The Mother Church and its branches, as is shown by the heading; but here the duties of Readers are stated, not their terms of office, nor their eligibility from the standpoint of prior service.

As to a Reader's term of office in a branch church, the inquirer is often advised by the Directors: Turn to page 250 of "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," where are reprinted two statements by Mrs. Eddy entitled, respectively, "Words for the Wise," and "Afterglow." "Words for the Wise" was first published in the Christian Science Sentinel on July 17, 1902. It referred to an amended By-Law of The Mother Church which Mrs. Eddy had then sent to the Directors for adoption. This amendment altered the term of office of Readers in The Mother Church from one year to three years. Subsequent amendments of this By-Law did not alter the term of office then fixed.

While these two statements of Mrs. Eddy's commend the adoption of a similar by-law by branch churches, she states that the branch churches are neither bound nor compelled to follow The Mother Church's example, but she adds: "I rest peacefully in knowing that the impulsion of this action in The Mother Church was from above. So I have faith that whatever is done in this direction by the branch churches will be blest." The full significance of Mrs. Eddy's advice seems to be epitomized in the following statement quoted from the first article: "Rotation in office promotes wisdom, quiets mad ambition, satisfies justice, and crowns honest endeavors."

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April 13, 1935

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