History of our Association
Our Association was launched in May 1984. The very first Association meeting was held in the Old Board Room in the Extension of The Mother Church, where the first class had been held in July of 1983. The windows in the Old Board Room let in a wonderful golden glow through the stained glass panels. There were eight people present at the first Association—the teacher and the same intrepid seven who had chosen to go through the first class with their brand new teacher in July 1983. (The teacher was in the Normal Class in December 1982, which was taught by DeWitt John.)
The topic of the address was “To do more than we do”. For the teacher, who was now also Editor of the church periodicals, it seemed an appropriate topic, which he was going to have to live daily! (See the full list of Association titles.) Our first-year dues were $15.00. You can see why the treasurer didn’t have a great deal to report at the first Business Meeting!
One more class was held in the Old Board Room (by the way, this was all before the Portico was added to the front of The Mother Church Extension). But in 1985, classes and the growing Association began meeting on the second floor of the Colonnade Building at the Christian Science Center. The long line of windows down the side of the building let in lots of light—but the seats were hard! (Classes began to be quite large.)
The following year our Associations were held in the auditorium of the Sunday School building and classes were held in the Pre-Sunday School room. In 1998 we taught our last class and gave our last Association in the Sunday School building which had been such a welcoming home to us for about ten years. Some of us will never forget that long view out the arc of the Sunday School windows down to the shining Hancock Tower in the distance; it was beautiful! We then held our Association at the Hynes Convention Center, just around the corner from the Christian Science Center from 1999-2017. The large corner room on the main floor of the Hynes accommodated our growing numbers and we were happy with the huge window on one side of the room. In 2001 and 2002 we moved into a larger room on the third floor. The ceiling to floor windows along the hallway just outside our room gave lots of light and quite a view over the tops of buildings.
In February 1999, we produced Association NewsNotes which was a way to communicate with all the members about pertinent information regarding Association business and Association day.
In November 2000, NewsNotes was retired and we launched our own website—www.phinneyassociation.org. The purpose for providing this site was to offer another means of quick and economical communication for Association members who have access to the Internet. Today, over 90% of our members have access to this site and those that don’t, are informed of the healing fruitage via regular mailings. The website continues to be a valuable tool for sharing numerous fruitage postings throughout the year, as well as communications from the teacher. Rather than Association being a one-day event, the website is means for it to continue each day and be a legitimate help.
We’ve had over the years many different kinds of contributions to the Association (in addition to monetary contributions) from members as well as guests: for example, bound volumes for our office, biographies, pamphlets, CD’s, a subscription to The Christian Science Monitor, and a compilation from the Mary Baker Eddy Library called “Advice to Healers.” Several members have contributed frequent-flyer miles each year to make it possible for members from a distance to attend Association. In 2012 several members made generous monetary contributions towards the printing costs of a three-volume compilation project of the teacher’s articles from 1966-2012, distributed to all members.
When we moved our Association in 1999 to the Hynes Convention Center, with its many points of entry and interaction with Hynes employees assisting with temperature, sound, neighboring meetings, etc., we found it necessary to appoint a “committee of the day” to help the executive committee with the logistics of making sure the mechanics of the day went smoothly. This committee was comprised of a coordinator, head usher, childcare chairman and sound engineer.
Beginning with Association 2000, we downsized our executive committee going from 5 members to 3 members — chairman, secretary and treasurer. We continued to have a committee of the day but also added a metaphysical committee comprised of 5 members who would serve for one year from Association day through the next Association day. The teacher is in touch with this committee via email to work on specific or general subjects as the need arises throughout the year. In 2010 the teacher re-organized and re-focused the role and purpose of the executive committee as a metaphysical one. (The appointing of a separate metaphysical committee was discontinued at this time.) The teacher, as chair, is in touch with four committee members through conference call or e-mail. Their work is not solely metaphysical but is the basis for all their activities – additional duties have included contacting fellow members who have not attended Association for a time.
READING THE ADDRESS
During the first eleven years of Association (1984 through 1994), it was our practice to send out digests of the Association address to all members. Because of the potential for these fairly comprehensive digests becoming publicly circulated, we were led to discontinue the practice after the 1994 Association digest. But at that point we initiated the present practice of making available the previous year’s address on the Friday before the new Association and making available that Association address for reading on the Sunday following. Members who are legitimately unable to attend a given Association day may request a copy of the address for short-term loan to read at home and return. Although available only for exceptional circumstances, one member was able to attend Association via Skype in 2015.
CHANGE IN DATE
For over thirty years, the Association was held on the first or second, or third Saturday in May. In recent years members began requesting an earlier Association date, as May had become peak season for graduations, which meant hotels doubled their price. In 2015, the Association date was moved back one month to April which allowed more hotel options, including outside Boston-proper locations with the best rates. Local members were able to provide transportation to Association for members staying at these outlying locations, which meant some self-sacrifice but contributed to a deeper family feeling.
Generally, the Association address has constituted a full day, running from about 10 a.m. to 12 noon and from 1:30 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. The business meeting conducted by the teacher and including the treasurer’s report has always been purposely kept quite brief, since the main “business” of the day is metaphysical, and we wanted nothing to distract from that. Over the years there have been different formats for metaphysical meetings just prior to the Association meeting. In recent years, the head usher meets with the ushers for their own inspirational meeting, and the committee of the day is invited to attend.
In February 1996 we opened our long-sought Association office in Copley Square. It was a very modest office of two rooms tucked away in the back of the building but it met the need nicely. Once we moved in and got settled, we soon realized we had outgrown our new space and in April 1997 we moved down the hall to a slightly larger office in the front of the building overlooking Copley Square, the Boston Public Library and Trinity church. We grew from one practitioner office to two offices and one Association room to two rooms—the Association executive assistant’s work space and reception area and a small but workable study room.
From August 2000 to May 2019, the office was open six days a week. We were happy to see members and guests using the study room in the office and especially glad to extend hospitality to visiting practitioners who are members or guests.
A HEALING PRACTICE
In 2003 and 2004 on Association day we took new steps to emphasize the healing practice of Christian Science. Listed practitioners who are members of our Association were available during the lunch break in 2003 to talk with fellow members interested in working towards the public practice of Christian Science. In 2004, during the lunch break members of the Association who were taking cases but not yet Journal-listed joined the practitioners from the Association in talking with those who were feeling ready to move in a similar direction. As of 2016 we have five Journal-listed practitioners among our Association members, and four practitioners who have become teachers.
In 2005 for the first time during the Association day we had a panel presentation by a diverse group of members, sharing their own healings live, so to speak. The group was on the dais and the teacher was at a floor mike, asking questions and leading the discussion. This approach supplemented the usual including of accounts of healing within the context of the day’s address. We continue panel presentation on healing through today, and in 2008 added interaction with speakers from the floor.
In 2011 we added a lunchtime workshop about spiritual readiness to respond to requests for prayer and sharing Christian Science. The group of 92 attending was divided into three smaller sections, each with a discussion leader.
FINDING CHRISTIAN SCIENCE
Also in 2011 we had a three-member panel on the subject of “Finding Christian Science.” One panelist spoke of finding Christian Science after having been a member of a fundamentalist church. Another told of being completely healed at Association 2010, after having resorted to surgery that wasn’t successful ten years earlier. A third panelist told of having been brought up a Christian Scientist but drifting into medical care, smoking, psychological medication, and illegal drug use. All of these issues were healed through Christian Science treatment. And this led to class instruction.
Panel and floor discussions have continued each year largely focused on fruitage that has come from work with the Association assignments. The 2010 assignment with its focus on the Amplified Edition, MBE: Christian Healer greatly inspired members and brought in a record amount of fruitage. Subsequent assignments included reading a spiral-bound compilation of 62 testimonies, mostly published before 1954, and later, the Expanded Edition, We Knew Mary Baker Eddy, Vol.2. In 2016 the assignment was devoted to reading all of the testimonies from the 1943 Sentinel and reporting what was learned. A short slide show of WWII black and white images set the stage for the floor and panel discussions. Favorite testimonies were heard from floor participants, focused on incredible wartime protections, dire financial and employment needs being met, and current fruitage. The panel continued the discussion by responding to questions from the assignment, including “Is the same kind of profoundly impressive healing to be found today?” and “Why can it be expected?”
Board of directors
In November 2013, the teacher began serving as one member of the five-member Christian Science Board of Directors until December 2018. The teacher also was the President of the Board of Education at this time, until December 2015 when he taught the Normal Class for new teachers.
The vital, fresh ideas and healing demonstrations of us all keep impelling us, moving us forward, so clearly there will always be a lot of history left to write! [AWP]