Christian Science Society of Northampton

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A case of healing in Northampton made Christian Science known to the town in 1885. By the end of the nineteenth century, local Scientists, including many Smith College students, gathered weekly for worship. In 1904, they formally organized themselves as the Christian Science Society of Northampton, and by 1907, the cornerstone for the church building would be laid. [1] Today, this sacred space is open to all, even those not of the Christian Science faith, as both a worship space and a reading room. A reading room is an integral part of Christian Science because adherents view themselves as students. Their striving for greater understanding often takes the form of reviewing the available denominational literature, which heavily emphasizes the immateriality of the world and the healing power of prayer.

Christian Science was “discovered” by Mary Baker Eddy in 1866. While reading a Biblical passage on Jesus’ healings after a severe fall on an icy sidewalk, she found herself suddenly well. [2] In this moment, she discovered that a “Life in and of Spirit…[is] the sole reality of existence… a mortal thought evolves a subjective state it names matter, thereby shutting out the true sense of Spirit.” [3] Upon this concept of the unreality of sickness and the power of spiritual devotion to heal, a new Christian denomination was founded. While its theology contains traces of influence by Eddy’s Calvinist upbringing and the metaphysical ideas of her physician, Phineas Quimby, Scientists believe the inspiration for Eddy’s teachings was mostly divine.

In the Christian Science Society of Northampton, a community is built around Sunday sermons and Wednesday testimony meetings. Sunday school is offered for youth from 3 to 20, not only allowing the parents of young children to attend the sermons but also educating the next generation in the core principles of the faith. [4] When Scientists are faced with illness, they also have the support of practitioners, “doctors” who specialize in spiritual healing. And finally, the strong belief of these community members in the power of love make the Society home for the racially diverse congregation.

 

[1] “Progress of Christian Science: First Church of Christ, Scientist, Northampton, Mass.” The Christian Science Journal 34 (1916): 341-342.  

[2] Christian Science: A Sourcebook of Contemporary Materials. (Boston, Massachusetts: The Christian Science Publishing Society, 1990), 6.

[3] Mary Baker Eddy, Miscellaneous Writings (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The University Press, 1896), 39.

[4]  “Welcome to Our Church Community.” Christian Science Society. 2017. http://csnorthampton.org/