My journey back to church
I still studied Christian Science, and felt that was good enough. But I wasn’t making any real progress in my life.
I have wonderful memories of the branch Church of Christ, Scientist, I attended as a youth, where my Sunday School teachers played a vital role in my early understanding of the Science of metaphysical healing. I am forever grateful to each one of them for their solid teaching, their love, and their patience, all of which had a tremendous influence on my life.
In fact, when I was about ten years old, I came home from Sunday School one day so enthused that I was determined to write a book about Christian Science. I still have the small notebook.
When I turned twenty, I graduated from the Sunday School, and after a few years of college I couldn’t wait to start my career. However, once I got a job, I went to church only sporadically, as shift work made it difficult to attend regularly. As I began focusing more and more on my work and personal life, sporadic church attendance was eventually reduced to nonattendance. This continued even after my shift work ended and my schedule was freed up. I still studied Christian Science, and felt that was good enough. But in hindsight, I realize that while my love for and reliance on Christian Science were still there, I wasn’t making any real progress in my life. I look back on those years now and wonder what I have to show for them.
During those 25 years, my connection with church amounted to looking for a Christian Science Reading Room to visit in whatever town I was traveling through. When I was a teenager, I had loved reading biographies of famous people. I was fascinated by how people achieved great things, and while I spent many hours reading biographies in our local library, the Reading Room was the only place I could find all of the biographies of Mary Baker Eddy, the woman who discovered Christian Science and later founded the Church of Christ, Scientist.
One day after retiring from my job, I decided to swing by the Reading Room near the church I had attended while growing up. To my surprise, it was no longer there. Then I drove by the church itself and found that the building was still there but now belonged to a different denomination.
I couldn’t believe it. “Where did my church go? How could this have happened?” I thought to myself. My next question was directed at me: “What part did you play in this?” Regret washed over me. I realized I’d taken the church for granted all these years, assuming it would always be there if and when I was ready to come back to it.
I began listening to the Sunday church services and Wednesday testimony meetings broadcast online from The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston. I was so grateful that they were available. This was the first step in my return to church.
One Sunday shortly after this, I felt a spiritual nudge to attend church in person. I found a Christian Science branch church in a neighboring town. As I pulled into the parking lot, I was greeted by these words on the sign outside: “All are welcome.” The feeling I had was indescribable. The members were loving and, for sure, welcoming. I felt that God had brought me back to church.
In a letter to one of the early Christian churches, the Apostle Paul wrote, “Now then we are ambassadors for Christ” (II Corinthians 5:20). It seemed to me now that the way to do this in my own life and times was to serve the Cause of Christian Science and support the healing mission of church.
Within a short time, my sense of having wasted many years and neglected my spiritual progress by not attending church was gone. I became an active member of that branch church, and these past seven or so years I have served in many capacities, including as Reading Room librarian—a dream-come-true job for me.
Thanks to our Wednesday testimony meetings, for the first time in many years I was able to publicly give gratitude to God for Christian Science and testify about healings that I was having as a result of my spiritual progress. I benefited from hearing others testify as well.
The weekly and monthly magazines published by The Christian Science Publishing Society are another channel through which to publicly express gratitude to God for healing, and I began submitting accounts of the healings in my life. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be writing for the Christian Science periodicals—and having my testimonies and articles published!
Furthermore, I felt that my prayers were having a greater reach and that I was becoming better prepared, spiritually, to help others when called on for support. I didn’t hesitate to offer “a cup of cold water in Christ’s name” (Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 570) by inviting someone to a church service or testimony meeting when I thought it would meet their need. I see the activities of branch church membership as opportunities to tend to and water God’s vineyard, the “vineyard of Truth” (Mary Baker Eddy, Retrospection and Introspection, p. 52) in which laborers are few.
After the yearlong pandemic lockdown affecting churches in my area, I attended a neighboring branch that was the first in the area to resume in-person services. Walking into a Christian Science church for the first time in a year brought a tear to my eye. I felt an overwhelming gratitude for all those who are working steadfastly to make these services available in their communities, and for those who yearn to hear the healing message of the Comforter, Christian Science. I can’t imagine my life today without Christian Science or my church—or the joy I feel as a member, helping to make this Science available to the community.