Christian Scientists consider what meaningful worship means

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Christian Scientists participate in a virtual annual meeting of their denomination in Boston. A hymn was sung in five languages with video submissions from members around the world.

BOSTON — Monday marked the annual meeting of the Church of Christ, Scientist, based in Boston. The meeting was hosted online.

The church is one of many faith groups that has worked over the past several months to help congregations move to a virtual space in compliance with local guidelines and recommendations. The meeting was an occasion for members to come together and consider what it means to be a church in a time of crisis.

“What real love does is reduce fear,” said Robin Hoagland, with the church’s five-member board of directors, “and that is the love that is most needed right now.”

The question applies to needs from the current economic and public health crisis, as well as global concerns about civil rights.

The Christian Science Monitor is one way the church aims to show its commitment to addressing such issues. The newspaper was founded in 1908, and It has covered issues relating to injustice and race. Pandemic coverage in recent months has been offered without a paywall.

Church officials and members’ comments during the meeting highlighted the connection between worshipping God and caring for one’s neighbors.

“To the degree that we love God with all our heart, soul and mind — to that degree will our hearts and hands be moved by Christ to meet the needs of our brothers and sisters,” board member Keith Wommack said.

A member from Germany who has been organizing humanitarian aid for the UN said, “When you are faced with global humanitarian needs, you can do a lot of things that are not meeting the needs of the people, or you face obstacles.” Prayer “brings solutions to mind ... because prayer is powerful. It has an impact.”

Comments also affirmed the church’s commitment to spiritual healing, which endeavors to see the image of God in everyone.

“Great charity and humility is necessary in this work of healing," the church founder Mary Baker Eddy wrote. "The loving patience of Jesus we must strive to emulate.”

Healing can’t be approached dogmatically, Christian Scientists emphasize. It is about giving gratitude to God and learning to acknowledge more of his saving presence.

A member from Peru shared how God’s love healed his grief after his son died in the hospital from a car wreck. During this same time, he was healed of chronic pain in his knees and spine. The encouragement of the local church was instrumental, he said, and he joined soon after.

The church's clerk welcomed new members from over 30 countries. Members also welcomed a new president, Anne-Françoise Bouffé, of Paris.

The meeting concluded with a video compilation of hundreds of members singing a hymn in five languages. Meeting participants were invited to join in live from home, including those who tuned in from Oklahoma.

Kevin Ness is the manager of Christian Science Committees on Publication for The First Church of Christ, Scientist.

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