We have found no comments by Mary Baker Eddy in her writings regarding branch churches holding weddings or funerals in their edifices.
There has never been a wedding held in The Mother Church; on rare occasions, there have been memorial services. For example, as documented in the November 26, 1963, issue of The Christian Science Monitor, there was a special memorial service held in honor of the late President John F. Kennedy.1 Memorial services were also held in The Mother Church for Presidents William McKinley, Warren Harding, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. (Each of these presidents passed away while still in office, which may be why the memorial services were held.)
In the Monitor’s article on the service held for Harding, the reporter writes that the order of service “will follow that used at the memorial service for President McKinley, Sept. 19, 1901.”2 McKinley was assassinated in September 1901. Eddy sent a note of condolence to his widow, Ida Saxton McKinley,3 and gave advice to Irving Tomlinson as to the content of the service: “Be ready for the meeting in memorium so as to appeal to the hearts present. Leave out technical Science speak of the power of Love Divine to save to the uttermost and the sure hope of our nation.”4
The practice of not allowing for weddings and funerals in Christian Science edifices was a tradition. For a time, the Christian Science Board of Directors strongly preferred that weddings and funerals not be held in branch churches; see, for example, “Christian Science and the Marriage Ceremony” on page 112 of the February 1976 issue of The Christian Science Journal.5
In recent years, however, branch churches have been encouraged to make the decision democratically amongst their membership in accordance with the By-law in the Manual of The Mother Church, Article XXIII, section 10, “No Interference.”6
- “Memorial Service Held in The Mother Church,” The Christian Science Monitor, November 26, 1963.
- “Harding Service in Mother Church,” The Christian Science Monitor, August 6, 1923.
- Mary Baker Eddy to Ida Saxton McKinley, 14 September 1901, V01887.
- Eddy to Irving C. Tomlinson, 14 September 1901, L03762.
- “Christian Science and the Marriage Ceremony,” The Christian Science Journal, February 1976, http://journal.christianscience.com/shared/view/1z5ejz8567k?s=t.
- Mary Baker Eddy, Manual of The Mother Church, 89th ed. (Boston: The First Church of Christ, Scientist, 1908), 73.