Another question from the assignment is: “How does this leadership continue into the second century of Christian Science?”
I love the biographical notes in We Knew Mary Baker Eddy, vol. II for showing how Mrs. Eddy sent her students out to heal after being taught. Many went back to their hometowns. Some went to new communities. And their healing work led to churches being formed. This was the case for Jenny Sawyer in Milwaukee, Victoria Sargent in Oconto, Emma Estes in Cincinnati, Lida Fitzpatrick in Cleveland, Joseph Mann in Junction City and later in Connecticut, Janette Weller in Philadelphia, Julia Prescott in Reading, Septimus and Camilla Hanna in Scranton, Edward Norwood in Memphis, Charles Reynolds in Oakland, William and Ella Rathvon in Colorado. And, from the first We Knew MBE: Emma and Abigail Thompson in Minneapolis, Annie Knott in Detroit, Frank Gale in San Francisco, Emma Easton Newman in Cambridge, George Wendell Adams in Plymouth, Sue Harper Mims in Atlanta, Martha Wilcox in Kansas City. Pretty clear leadership for us regarding the growth of church.
There is also Mrs. Eddy’s leadership in her relationship to the Bible. She was definitely a thorough student of the Bible. But she is far from sounding like a large part of the Bible commentaries on my shelf when she speaks of the people in the Bible, the stories, and the revelation she finds there. The household members often wrote down lessons that Mrs. Eddy gave to the workers. (Clara Shannon’s recording of lessons to workers, pages 190 to 196.) They speak of her frequently opening the Bible to hear what God was telling her. They also speak of her turning to her Bible for guidance regarding questions involving the church – and then taking the guidance very seriously and acting on it.
I’m often amazed at how much Mrs. Eddy sees in Bible passages – at how much is in the Bible to spiritual sense. One of my favorite passages in Mrs. Eddy’s works is her page about Philip’s answer to the eunuch in Mis p. 77. (Or of course, what she sees in Genesis and Revelation.) And I was touched to hear that when she visited the Original Edifice for the first time, she stepped to the First Reader’s podium and recited the 91st Psalm from memory. (p. 201) She had clearly lived with that Psalm.
Her leadership in reading the Bible with spiritual sense – listening to and understanding God’s voice speaking to her – is significant when there is so much in the world now that is reducing the Bible to historic and doctrinal and academic readings.