"Oh, You Dear Busy Bees"

Mary Baker Eddy’s beehive, a gift from the Busy Bees. 0.1993

Mary Baker Eddy’s beehive, a gift from the Busy Bees. 0.1993

In 1890 work was actively taking place to fund the building of The Mother Church in Boston, Massachusetts. In October of that year an idea was developed by Maurine Campbell, a student of Christian Science who worked in The Christian Science Publishing Society, to start a Young People’s Fund to help the cause. A pledge of $1,000 dollars was made to the fund by Campbell. A couple of days later Campbell had another idea: start a Children’s Fund to build a room in the church for Mary Baker Eddy, and call it “Mother’s Room.” She wished to pledge $500 dollars for the children. Letters were sent to children around the country, and in a few months’ time the money was raised.

On March 1, 1891, twelve Boston Sunday School children were called together and asked if they wanted to help with the building fund. The children were eager to help out. The following week each child was given 10 cents. They were to make use of this “talent” (see Jesus parable, Matthew, Chapter 25) to see what they could do in three months’ time with their dimes. The children bought supplies, and crafted all sorts of things to sell. Some of the items the children sold included paper dolls, popcorn, flowers, aprons, rose bushes, cakes, and soap (just to name a few).

The name “Busy Bee” originated with Maurine Campbell. She saw how hard the children were working, and remarked “Oh you dear Busy Bees!” The name was used until their work was completed. A notice was put in the April 1891 Christian Science Journal extending an invitation to all children to become coworkers.1

Mary Baker Eddy expressed her delight with the “Sabbath School Children” in an April 16, 1891 letter. Here is an excerpt:

Only think of having these gems of childhood character among the foundation stones for the Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston! 2

Wooden bank given to the children for storing funds

Wooden bank given to the children for storing funds

At the June 1891 meeting the children received wooden beehive banks, to store the money they raised for the coming months. The children were happy and excited to continue with their work. The Bees continued to meet and contribute their earnings over the years leading up to the dedication of The Mother Church.

Tiles given to Busy Bees on dedication day

Tiles given to Busy Bees on dedication day

On January 6, 1895, The Mother Church and Mother’s Room were dedicated; 220 Busy Bees were in attendance. Each child was given a mosaic tile like the ones used for the flooring of the Mother’s Room. The tiles were lettered with “Mother’s Room 1894” on each of them. Each child was also given a badge to wear to commemorate the day. The badges were white with “Mother’s Room” in gold lettering with a tiny beehive also printed on them. Badges and tiles were also sent to the Bees who could not be there on dedication day. The children were first to visit Mother’s Room on dedication day and thousands of others passed through the room as well.

Badge worn by Busy Bees

Badge worn by Busy Bees

Eddy wrote to a student about dedication day:

…Also have the children “Busy Bees” seated on the front pews. They will wear badges simply “Mothers Room” I have named them in my Sermon.3

The Busy Bees also signed a tablet or autograph book on the occasion. The tablet was bound in white celluloid with gold lettering. It was later sent to Mary Baker Eddy. Eddy was also given a small onyx beehive that held the key to the large onyx hive containing the names of the Busy Bees. This small hive sat on the whatnot in her home.

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Children/Busy Bees at Church dedication

The children had raised over $5000 dollars by dedication day. They were asked to cease sending in donations after that day. Remaining funds were eventually set up in a Trust Fund for the Bees, and years later the funds were distributed to the over 2000 Bees.

This blog was originally posted on June 1, 2012.

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  1. Maurine R. Campbell, “Home and Children’s Department,” The Christian Science Journal, April 1891,  http://journal.christianscience.com/shared/view/c2kwnhgc0g?s=t.
  2. Mary Baker Eddy to Maurine R. Campbell, 16 April 1891, L05781.
  3. Mary Baker Eddy, 1 January 1895, L00081.