On September 19, 1898, Mary Baker Eddy wrote to one of her students, “I am at work continually for the good of all. The field is large, the laborers are few.”
Her words, “at work continually for the good of all,” ring true, and perhaps even have a note of understatement! The year 1898 proved to be one of extraordinary activity for Mrs. Eddy — a year in which she strengthened her Church by putting in place many elements so familiar today.
In this article, we present material from the Longyear Museum collection that illustrates many of the decisive moves and forward steps taken by Mrs. Eddy in 1898.
January 25, 1898
Mary Baker Eddy founds The Christian Science Publishing Society
During January 1898, Mrs. Eddy worked out the details of the Deed of Trust through which she established The Christian Science Publishing Society. See “A Gift to The Mother Church, and a Grant of Trusteeship” (The Christian Science Journal, Vol. XV, February 1898, p. 661).
Mrs. Eddy establishes the Christian Science Board of Lectureship
Edward A. Kimball, Chicago, Illinois, with daughter Edna and wife Kate.
William P. McKenzie, Boston, Massachusetts.
Christian Science Hall
In October 1897, Mrs. Eddy approved plans for renovation of a house she had purchased for Christian Science worship in Concord.
She daily inspected the construction, and when ill health threatened the carpenters’ foreman, she healed him on the spot (see The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 145).
Work went speedily forward, and grateful Christian Scientists held their first services in the new “Christian Science Hall” on December 5, 1897.
Mrs. Eddy’s gifts, however, did not stop here. At the end of January 1898, she gave $100,000 to construct a granite edifice for First Church of Christ, Scientist, Concord, New Hampshire. Christian Science Hall was razed to make way for the new church building, which was dedicated on July 17, 1904.
Mrs. Eddy preaches at Christian Science Hall
Her subject was “Not Matter, but Mind” and her text was Psalm 91. The sermon was covered in newspapers, including the Boston Globe, as well as The Boston Herald, which is excerpted below:
“Mrs. H. K. Harrison, soloist, of Boston, [sang] ‘Saw Ye My Saviour,’ a church communion hymn, also written by Mrs. Eddy.
“Mrs. Harrison lost her voice for some months, and is said to have been recently restored to health by Christian Science…. This is the first time she has sung in public since her recovery.
“Mrs. Eddy then stepped to the desk and read the Psalm xci., which she characterized as containing more meaning than is condensed into so many words anywhere else in all literature, save in the Lord’s Prayer….
“She made this Psalm her text, and, taking it, passage by passage, explained its meaning with an eloquence that held her congregation’s profound attention for 45 minutes. She spoke extemporaneously,…and she explained the doctrines of her faith with striking simplicity and richness of illustration….”
Mrs. Eddy, Pastor Emeritus, sends Communion message to The Mother Church: Christian Science versus Pantheism
“This closing century, and its successors, will make strong claims on religion, and demand that the inspired Scriptural commands be fulfilled.” — Mary Baker Eddy, Christian Science versus Pantheism, p. 12.
Mrs. Eddy’s twenty-six Lesson-Sermon subjects are introduced in The Christian Science Quarterly
The subjects given by Mrs. Eddy were used for the morning service, while other services on Sunday employed topics from the “International Series” (interdenominational Bible lessons selected by a committee drawn from various Protestant churches, used by Christian Scientists from 1888 to 1899, and still used by many denominations today).
In early 1899, Mrs. Eddy provided a By-Law that Churches of Christ, Scientist, discontinue use of the International Series topics for Sunday services (Christian Science Sentinel, Vol. I, February 23, 1899, p. 15).
Mrs. Eddy launches the Christian Science Sentinel
At first tided simply The Christian Science Weekly, the periodical received a more descriptive name from Mrs. Eddy in January 1899: Christian Science Sentinel. At the same time, she gave it a motto, in Christ Jesus’ words: “WHAT I SAY UNTO YOU I SAY UNTO ALL, WATCH. — Jesus.”
The Sentinel enabled Mrs. Eddy to communicate with her followers more rapidly than she could through the monthly publication The Christian Science Journal, which she had founded in 1883.
Judge Hanna was Editor of the Christian Science periodicals for ten years, 1892-1902, and his wife, Camilla, was Assistant Editor. The Hannas were members of Mrs. Eddy’s November 1898 class.
Mrs. Eddy teaches her last class
Nearly seventy people, some traveling considerable distances, responded swiftly to Mrs. Eddy’s request to be at Christian Science Hall at four o’clock on Sunday, November 20. When they had assembled, Edward Kimball read a letter from Mrs. Eddy in which she explained that she would teach them one or more lessons on Christian Science.1
Quoting the Ninety-first Psalm (the text of her sermon the previous February), she wrote:
“The ‘secret place,’ whereof David sang, is unquestionably man’s spiritual state in God’s own image and likeness, even the inner sanctuary of divine Science, in which mortals do not enter without a struggle or sharp experience, and in which they put off the human for the divine.” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 244.)
Mrs. Eddy lays foundations of Committee on Publication and Christian Science Board of Education
As 1898 came to a close, Mrs. Eddy’s work continued unabated, as she founded the Committee on Publication and the Christian Science Board of Education.
At first, the Committee on Publication consisted of three people, but in 1900 Mrs. Eddy would select Alfred Farlow to serve as a committee of one. The late 1890s saw Farlow pioneering this work of correcting public misconceptions about Christian Science and injustices done to Mrs. Eddy or Church members.
In late 1898 Mrs. Eddy established the Board of Education, which convened its first Normal class just a few weeks later, on January 2, 1899.
Mrs. Eddy’s poem, “Christmas Morn,” is published
When readers of The Christian Science Journal opened the December 1898 issue, they were greeted by a new poem by Mrs. Eddy. Originally entitled “Christmas Hymn,” it was included in the 1905 edition of the Christian Science Hymnal.
See “An Important Event,” The Christian Science Journal, Vol. XVI, December 1898, p. 588, and the following reminiscences in We Knew Mary Baker Eddy (The Christian Science Publishing Society, 1979): Emma Easton Newman, George Wendell Adams, Sue Harper Mims, Emma C. Shipman.