First Church of Christ, Scientist

Information about this center is no longer updated. This data was last updated on 27 August 2015.

Phone: 617-450-2000
[flickr_set id="72157621937331380"] History The First Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston not only represents the Church’s world headquarters and historical beginnings, but is also the focal point of its widespread activities in Greater Boston. It was founded in 1879 by Mary Baker Eddy as “a church designed to commemorate the word and works of our Master [Jesus],” which should “reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing.” The Church publishes books, magazines, and a website that include current testimonies of spiritual healing and articles on how people have applied these ideas in their own lives. Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910) came from a devoutly Christian background and was healed of several challenges in her life through the study and inspiration of the Bible. By her ninetieth year, she organized a church that now has branches in some 80 countries and became a noted author, lecturer, and practitioner of Christian healing. She also launched a “franchise” of bookstores worldwide called Christian Science Reading Rooms (there is one at 194 Massachusetts Avenue in Boston) and founded the well-respected newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor, which has been continuously published since it was established in 1908. Her most important work that contains the full explanation of Christian Science is Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Each Christian Science branch church around the world is democratic in its government and follows Mary Baker Eddy’s Church Manual that “establishes the foundation, government, services, and activities of The First Church of Christ, Scientist”. The Church of Christ, Scientist has no relation to Scientology. Description The First Church of Christ, Scientist, is located in Boston’s Back Bay. The smaller Romanesque style structure, the original Mother Church, was completed in 1894, seats 900, and is still in use today. The larger adjacent sanctuary seats approximately 3,000 and was built in Byzantine- Renaissance style architecture. It was completed in 1906, after just 23 months of construction, and includes a large dome that rests on four arches, and a 13,200 Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ. Both buildings are on a 14-acre plaza that also includes the headquarters for the Church, the newsroom for The Christian Science Monitor, and The Mary Baker Eddy Library. There is also a building for Sunday School and youth activities, an interactive children’s fountain, and a 686-foot long outdoor reflecting pool. The Mary Baker Eddy Library The Mary Baker Eddy Library contains the Mapparium®, the Hall of Ideas, Lending and Reference Services, research areas, exhibits, and a cafe. The library contains primary documents, some written by Mary Baker Eddy, and includes a vast inventory of photographs and original documents. The collections date back to the 1830’s and were made public in 2002 with the opening of the Library. The research staff answers approximately 5,000 requests for information annually and the Library also sponsors a research fellowship program during the summers. The Mapparium® was designed by architect Chester Lindsay Churchill as a “symbol of the international character of the Publishing Society and The Christian Science Monitor.” The structure is a spherical 30 feet in diameter, and includes 608 painted glass panels portraying a map of the world in 1935. Over 10 million people have visited the Mapparium® since it opened in 1935. Church Structure Mary Baker Eddy ordained two texts, the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, as “Pastor” over The First Church of Christ, Scientist. The Church also has a lay clergy, consisting of elected “Readers,” who conduct the services. The Readers at The Mother Church in Boston are appointed to read for three years. Since it is the world headquarters, they are selected from members from around the world. Activities and Schedule Services are held weekly on Sundays and Wednesdays and are open to the public. On Sundays, there are services in English and Spanish. Services consist of silent prayer and the Lord’s Prayer, 3 hymns, a spiritual solo accompanied by the 13,200 pipe organ, and a “Lesson Sermon” with passages from the Bible (Old and New Testaments) and correlative passages from Mary Baker Eddy’s Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Communion is not part of the service; rather, two Lesson Sermons a year are on the subject of “Sacrament” and focus on the spiritual sense of communion. Music is an essential component of the services at the First Church of Christ, Scientist. The Christian Science Publishing Society publishes a hymnal containing both original and traditional hymns. Readers at The Mother Church and at branch churches select the hymns for their services primarily from this book. Sometimes members compose original music and lyrics. The organist at The Mother Church and organists at branches around the world select their own preludes and postludes from their own musical libraries. The soloist also works with the organist and Readers to select solos. The First Church of Christ, Scientist has a Sunday school that welcomes infants, children, and young people up to age 20 to lively classes where they learn about God, prayer, healing and the relevance of moral and spiritual law to their everyday lives. Wednesday testimony meetings offer an opportunity for those attending to explain how Christian Science and a growing understanding of their relationship to God have helped and healed them. For more than 100 years, the Church has also held a Thanksgiving Day service that includes time for the congregation to express gratitude for blessings received throughout the year as a result of their prayers for the world, for their communities, and in their own lives. Tours The Mother Church, domed extension and Mapparium® are particularly popular destinations for tourists and visitors. All are open to the public at set times. Visit the website for updated information and tour times, opening hours and ticket prices.