From the Papers: A New Year’s exchange

December 13, 2021


Letter: Ellen Brown Linscott to Mary Baker Eddy, 30 December 1885, 163A.27.037. Image: Portrait of Ellen Brown Linscott, by Smith and Buck, P01131. Image: Portrait of Mary Baker Eddy, by W. Shaw Warren, P00250. Letter: Mary Baker Eddy to Ellen Brown Linscott, 1 January 1886, L12984.

The holiday season offered a special occasion for Mary Baker Eddy and her students to express gratitude to one another, and for Christian Science. Students often sent letters or gifts to Eddy at Christmas and New Year’s, and she in turn expressed her thanks and encouragement, as well as her own wishes for the year to follow.

As the Mary Baker Eddy Papers looks toward 2022, we want to share one of these exchanges.

Ellen Brown Linscott, one of Eddy’s students in Chicago, wrote to Eddy as 1885 drew to a close. Her letter of December 30 included New Year’s greetings and an update on recent Christian Science activity in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She also mentioned the promise that other places in the American West held for sharing Christian Science:

My dearest Teacher,

I can only just take time to wish you a very Happy New Year, May the year 1886, be the happiest of your life, and may many (if not all) your hopes for the cause of Truth be realized, I know that nothing else could contribute so much to your peace of mind, It seems an age since I have had a letter from you, but I do not wonder – you have so many to think of. 1

Eddy replied on January 1, 1886:

Many tender wishes for the New Year. O, that it may bring you into a sacred nearness to the image and expression of Divine perfections. O, that the law of Christ be able to overcome in us all the law of sin and death. O, that you may be more and more embued with the power from on high. Growth in grace is growth in Christian Science. 2

In that letter Eddy also identified one New Year’s gift she truly needed: qualified students to help fill some of her many roles in the Christian Science movement. She continued:

Now darling I entrust you with a secret. I want more liberty to do my Master’s will; and to this end I want a Clergyman for my pulpit, an editor for the Jour.3 and a Teacher to take my place in the Mass. Met. Coll. I have wanted this many a year! This month it is just 20 years since I have devoted all my time to founding the great Science of Mind healing. I have worked and sacrificed all earthly things for it, and [?] to bless you and others with what is already done. 4

Soon after that, some of those wishes began to be fulfilled. James Henry Wiggin took over as editor of The Christian Science Journal for a time. The National Christian Scientist Association (NCSA) was formed to help support teachers of Christian Science and their students (check out our Christian Scientist Association glossary term for a brief history and related documents). And William I. Gill began serving on a trial basis as assistant pastor to Eddy for the Church of Christ (Scientist).

Eddy was not able to fully remove herself from her roles and responsibilities. But in expressing this desire to Linscott, she illustrated the loving relationship she shared with a number of her students, as they worked together to meet the growing interest in Christian Science healing. Turning the calendar offered them an occasion to support and strengthen one another in meeting a new year of challenges and opportunities.

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  1. Ellen Brown Linscott to Mary Baker Eddy, December 30, 1885,
  2. Mary Baker Eddy to Ellen Brown Linscott, January 1, 1886,
  3. The Christian Science Journal, which had been in publication since 1883.
  4. Mary Baker Eddy to Ellen Brown Linscott, January 1, 1886,