Voices of a Global Movement: “We can feel safe even amid bursting shells”

June 20, 2017

Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, German translation. 1980.20.

Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, German translation. 1980.20.

In the 150 years since Mary Baker Eddy’s discovery of Christian Science, many people have come forward with stories of how it has impacted their lives. As part of our exhibit Fervent Hearts, Willing Hands, The Mary Baker Eddy Library will be sharing some of these stories through this article series “Voices of a Global Movement.”

For centuries both Germany and Russia have exerted influence over Latvia.1 As a result, many inhabitants speak either German or Russian, in addition to Latvian. Christian Science spread in the Baltic region through German translations of Eddy’s writings, such as this edition of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, which is on display in our exhibit. It includes marginal notes written in Latvian.

Some of the first accounts of Christian Science in Latvia date from 1907. A German merchant shared Christian Science literature in German with a young Latvian couple. These friends of his shared their faith discreetly with their own friends and neighbors, and soon afterward a small group gathered. Its members found these German periodicals invaluable in translating Christian Science literature for those who only spoke Latvian.2

The Christian Science Publishing Society had released the first issue of Der Christian Science Herold (now Der Herold der Christlichen Wissenschaft) in April 1903. Many early students wanted to translate Science and Health, and some of them did so independently. However, Mary Baker Eddy did not authorize an official translation project until 1910. When Science and Health was published in German in 1912, the window through which they could share the power of Christ healing widened.

Committee assigned to translate Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures into German, circa 1910. P07507. Unknown photographer. Courtesy of The Mary Baker Eddy Library. From left to right: Count Helmuth von Moltke; Ulla Schultz (later Oldenbourg); Adam H. Dickey; Renata Hermes (later King); Countess Dorothy von Moltke; Theodore Stanger. This picture was taken at the Hotel Beaconsfield, Brookline, MA.

One of the most compelling reminiscences of this period came from Sophie Badche. This young woman’s account speaks to the strength that a handful of early Christian Scientists displayed during months of great trial after Russia invaded the Latvian capital city of Riga:

“[I]n the first days of January 1919 a bolshevists’ [sic] army took Riga. A period of severest oppression began. Domiciliary visits, arrests, happened every day …. there seemed to be a very heavy mental depression, and the atmosphere was pervaded with fear and terror. But it was proved that ‘His truth shall be thy shield and buckler’ [Ps. 91:4]. Many a demonstration of the protecting and supplying power of divine Love was thankfully experienced by the little band of Scientists.” Badche wanted The Mother Church to know that these dedicated Christian Scientists could not be broken. As she reported: “… in November 1919…peace was established at last. If so much error is mentioned here, it is but…to show against what mesmeric beliefs of evil in most terrifying forms we had to fight…to prove to ourselves again and again that God can ‘prepare a table in the wilderness,’ and that we can feel safe even amid bursting shells and hatred and destruction, for ‘the eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms’ [Deut. 33:27].” 3

German troops 1916

German troops entering Riga during WWI, 1916. Unknown photographer. Courtesy of Wikimedia.

Throughout both the Second World War and the Communist rule that followed, Christian Science, and its message of hope and divine protection, has persisted in Latvia.

While no offering can liquidate one’s debt of gratitude to God, the fervent heart and willing hand are not unknown to nor unrewarded by Him.

— Mary Baker Eddy, Miscellaneous Writings 1883-1896

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  1. Arnold Spekke, Romuald J. Misiunas and Others, “Latvia.”  Encyclopædia Britannica, September 16, 2016, accessed February 7, 2017,https://www.britannica.com/place/Latvia/History.
  2. Marilyn Jones, “The Power of One … Two … or Three.” The Christian Science Journal, March 2008, accessed January 30, 2017, http://journal.christianscience.com/issues/2008/3/126-3/the-power-of-one-two-or-three.
  3. Marilyn Jones, “The Power of One … Two … or Three.” The Christian Science Journal, https://journal.christianscience.com/shared/view/154mi3uzppc?s=t.