From the Papers: Pastoral care

September 21, 2020

When Mary Baker Eddy spoke in Boston at Tremont Temple on March 16, 1885, she was responding to attacks on Christian Science by clergymen Joseph Cook and A. J. Gordon, which they had made in lectures, sermons, and articles in the press. Later her words were published in the pamphlet Defence of Christian Science.

While Cook and Gordon viewed Christian Science negatively, we have recently noted a few letters Eddy received in 1885 from other clergy members who told how they valued her teachings, even if they did not convert to her religion.

Eddy had encouraged leaders of other faiths to study Christian Science by offering clergy free attendance in her Primary class. In an April 11 letter to Eddy, Unitarian pastor J. W. Winkley reminded her of that offer: “I have a very deep interest in the Matter – unabated, Truth Mind increased, and so am desirous of availing myself of your offer at first opportunity for agreeable to yourself[.]”

Francis Partridge, an Anglican priest, sent a September 21 letter to Eddy, describing her book Science and Health as “a kind of Revelation.” He continued, “I have no desire of practicing the Science as a profession, my time being more thankfully occupied now in the duties of my Office & Parish. But I would gladly know more of what it appears to me the world has been waiting for since the days of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ.”

Also in the year 1885, James Henry Wiggin, a former Unitarian minister, began his employment with Eddy as a copy editor. Most notably he helped with revisions to the 16th and 50th editions of Science and Health. Their work together further shows the variety of interactions that clergy of different faiths had with Christian Science. No doubt we will encounter more as we continue this work of transcribing and annotating Eddy’s correspondence.

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