Discussion Groups

“Yes, we’re Christian. No, we’re not a cult!”

Join the latest ecumenical workshop entitled “Yes, we’re Christian. No, we’re not a cult!” The workshop covers how Christian Science fits in a contemporary Christian world, why it is wanted and needed, and what individual Christian Scientists can do to support that. See flyer for contact information.  The first such workshop in Northern California will be held on Saturday, July 12th at Arden Wood, San Francisco.  The Ecumenical Workshop flyer has location details, information about sponsoring churches, and directions.

Summit Fruitage

by Sue Krevitt in Santa Cruz

Recently I was included in a Post-Summit meeting of sixteen Christian Scientists–wonderful folks eager to give-and-receive fresh and enlightening ideas on the topic of church–an important subject in all our hearts. There were Journal-listed practitioners, budding practitioners, a CS Teacher… all solid thinkers and doers in our movement, in this ‘place of thought’ called Northern California Church Alive!

With such pure motives, such love and desire to be all we can be in the world, expressing Mind/Life/Truth/Love, the results of this meeting (and other such gatherings going on around this globe) are, and have to be, nothing but GOOD!

I’m offering some thoughts on the topic “Let’s Share More NCCA Summit Fruitage!”

Question: Do I feel that the Northern California Church Alive Summit has brought me closer to my Goal: discovering more of my own (and others’) connection to God?

Lively singingAnswer: Yes.  My prayerful request had been:  Put me in an atmosphere alive with conversation/discussion/idea-flow/ livelymusic/ singing/ sharing/ food/ fun/ art/even dancing!  Help me find out what church can be…expanded waay out … to bring me to a larger place in thought to what church can be, perhaps is, in fact.  My prayers were answered at the summit!  It was all this and more.

Over this past year, my branch church has benefited by the light received at the Summit…the six of us who went are quietly–so far–sharing some of what we got, what changes/improvements/new ways we see might be well-received by our church family/community. These ideas are being prayerfully considered, some implemented (our business meetings are now in the SS, in a circle–more like a family circle than facing-backs-formal).  We’ve used our main auditorium piano instead of the organ a few times.  We are planning a Summit-Sharing Meeting soon, with light refreshments, videos, etc., and possibly asking some who attended the Summit to be presenters. One attendee told me she felt “transformed” by the Summit weekend!


Question: Why did I need 700 other people (Summit attendees) to help me feel more of my (and others’) connection to God?

Answer: For now, I want the connection and assurance from others that I am on the right track by staying on a spiritual path in this “very material world.”

Question: Why did I take part in the hundreds of emails and phone calls, etc., over 7 months to help host and staff the Summit last May?

SharingAnswer:  Although it was demanding, I have been rewarded with feeling good about using my God-given talents to help out in this way.  I interfaced during the six months planning with 18 of the finest Christian thinkers and doers in our region, was inspired and uplifted by them, and more grateful than ever to be part of the CS movement!  (And others worked much hard than I did, btw.)

Question:  What are some of my reasons to continue being involved with Post-Summit Discussion Groups?

Answer:  Because I/we will continue to need each other for support, for networking, for inspiration and fresh ideas,  for a while yet.  The energy from the Summit is still strong, still vital!  This work is the activity of divine Mind in our midst, the outpouring of Love in this “human realm.”


While God’s provision may not be the biblical loaves and fishes, clearly the sharing and love at the Summit and the Post-Summit meetings, on our website (www.csnorcal.org), in our emails and other conversations are all part of Love’s manna-of-today.   Let’s feast!

I love learning that Truth is not abstract, impractical, ineffectual!  It is solid substance, here-and-now stuff we can use today.

For instance?   Go to www.csnorcal.org…

Here’s great info on how to join in the discussion ~ Re-visit the Summit videos ~ Contribute your ideas and ask your questions ~ Find out how others are renewing church services ~ be a more effective Sunday School teacher… and this site is growing, and will grow with your help!

A Church Liaison Group now forming is to keep our connection going…to bring and get information–like vital fertilizer!—to our church activity. The 77 CS churches and societies in the northern California region are rich resources for cross-pollination!   (At the Summit, we used the analogy of gardening, seed-sowing, weeding, the Tree of Life, roots, etc.  I think this is a great way to illustrate what we are doing, don’t you?)

I send you warm thoughts for ever-increasing joy and healing, as we go forward together on this great pathway of Life.

The High Goal

From the Circle of Faith blog:

 by Brian Talcott, CSB 

Have you wondered what is the true high goal of ecumenical dialogue? It is to heal the hatred, conflict and division within the Church Christ Jesus founded. Because healing is at the center of this global effort, certainly there is a place for Christian Scientists—since healing is one of the central expressions of our faith. Why get involved with Christians whose faith practices include other perspectives and priorities drawn from Christ Jesus’ life and teaching? Will dialogue with other Christians about our common beliefs weaken our healing practice in our own faith? Or are we being called to bring our healing practice to address some of the greater works Jesus promised and asked us to do.

There is a spiritual transformation going on globally….

Read the whole article here:  https://community.christianscience.com/community/ecumenical_and_interfaith/blog/2014/01/18/144-ecumenical-dialogue-the-high-goal

Faith and Ecumenical Discussion Group Conference Calls

The Faith and Ecumenical Discussion Group holds an informative conference call on the first Sunday evening of the month at 7:30, hosted by co-coordinators Brian Talcott and Marilyn McPherson. We share our questions and experiences and learn of new activities happening in various ecumenical and interfaith groups in the area. An important development is the launching this year of an Ecumenical Workshop for Christian Scientists from the Manager of Committees on Publication.

The Ecumenical Workshop Flyer, defines ecumenical as:Ecumenical flyer

“…Christians searching for unity in response to Jesus’ prayer that we be one.” (John 17:21)

We encourage readers to visit Circle of Faith regularly, where the latest post is headed “Have you wondered what is the true high goal of ecumenical dialogue? It is to heal the hatred, conflict and division within the Church Christ Jesus founded.”

The conference calls are open to all.

Next call: Sunday, Feb. 2, 7:30 p.m.
Dial-in Number: (661) 673-8600; Participant Access Code: 327950#.

Learning about Church at Burning Man

Several members of the Church Alive community participated in this year’s Burning Man event in Nevada over Labor Day. Anna Lisa Kronman writes up a beautiful post about her experience of learning about a deeper meaning of “church”. She writes:

Burning Man Foot WashingA unique element of Burning Man is its gift-based, rather than consumer-based economy….
Everyone that comes is expected to give something.  Also part of this culture: extraordinary creativity, art, loud music, a markedly friendly and open/permissive atmosphere, and whimsical clothing (or sometimes none.)

A group of people who love Christian Science felt there was a good reason to be a presence in this city.  We came to wash feet.

We hadn’t specifically set out to “do church” there at Burning Man.  We had planned to lovingly embrace that city of lively seekers by actively seeing their spiritual worthiness as we washed dust from their feet.  What a surprise that in doing so, we discovered we were in the middle of church!

Read her whole post here: http://annalisakronmancs.sharethepractice.org/2013/10/22/surprise-church-at-burning-man/

The Pope’s Challenge: Love over Ideology

By Jason Marsh

I was struck by this video from the Pope, which touches on a theme dear to my heart: focusing on ideology over Love.

It got me thinking about our churches and our services.

What ideology may be pushing people away from our churches? Here’s a few ideas:

– King James Version (old English) solely read from the desk

– Formalism of our Sunday service

– Musical instruments and solos limited to one style of music

– Inflexible membership policies

– Judgementalism around personal health care decisions

Some wouldn’t want to change our stands on these issues, but I think that each of these push people away from our churches. One argument is that we would prefer to push some people away: the purity of the movement is at stake. But really? Isn’t Love in Christian Science more important than the “grave-clothes of the letter?” Do we have the attitude to “…commemorate the word and works of our Master?”

Phone conference systems for services and meetings

by Jason Marsh, Jon Mattson, and Grace Burke

In response to several inquiries, I thought it would be good to post what Auburn church uses for our phone conferencing system.

You can get a good Polycom speakerphone that is usually used by corporate conference rooms for about $150-$200, but it may only pick up voices from about 10 feet away.  We have a Polycom 2EX with satellite wired microphones that we pass around.  This Polycom is closer to $400.  Voice quality is excellent, but it doesn’t pick up music very well, but music over the phone always sound poor anyway.  You can also get wireless satellite mics.  A good source is Polycom FactoryOutletStores.com.

This system works well for the size of our congregation, but wouldn’t work in a large church building unless everyone sits close together (which has other benefits!). Larger rooms will need to feed the audio from the microphone system into the phone line. We tried to set this up and found that for our size of space, it wasn’t necessary and was fairly difficult.

We keep the base station near the first reader. The two satellite microphones are wired directly into the base station, and works in our auditorium which has only about 4 rows of chairs.

We use a paid conference calling system, so that no one has to incur long distance charges, but there are a variety of free conference calling companies where there is no charges to the church. I would Google “free conference calling” or the name of the paid service we use is PGI – ReadyConference Plus (it comes out to about $3 per hour per caller).

Hope that helps!

Feel free to comment below with further questions.

What different ways might you find to work with your local interfaith group?

By Jan True

To me, interfaith participation has been such an important and fulfilling part of my work for church, originally as Assistant Committee on Publication.

I started in a small town in New Mexico where the members of the interfaith council were of mostly the Christian churches and the one Jewish community. They had breakfast meetings once a month and mostly shared what their different groups were doing in the community. At one breakfast meeting I gave a presentation on Christian Science to the group, got some wonderful questions, and even gave out several copies of Science and Health. At another time we had a prayer meeting for the entire town where I was able to share our correlative scripture of I John 3 with a large group of attendees.

In Nevada County, California, I was part of a new interfaith group. Most of the group were what I would call faith groups sort of on the fringes. It included Unity, Religious Science, Christian Science, United Methodist, Unitarian Universalist, and Episcopal faith traditions, but also included different groups such as a local hospice, the local hospital chaplain, and individuals with different spiritual practices. Each month we met at a different church or other location. And each time we met we heard the story of one of the attendees. When I shared my story it was all about my progress in Christian Science and my service to church. But I was most impressed in hearing the others’ very inspiring spiritual journeys. The purpose of this group was to learn about and support the diverse spiritual traditions in the community

Currently I attend the interfaith council meetings in South Orange County and participate in some of their activities. Each year we host two events, the main one being the spring Prayer Breakfast with about 200 attendees, including government officials, diverse church groups, and individuals. It always includes an inspirational guest speaker chosen by the council. Next year the Christian Science church will be doing a prayer message along with two other faith traditions at this breakfast. Last fall at a panel event our church sponsored Brian Talcott as a lecturer. For the last two years I’ve led a prayer team to support the Prayer Breakfast. This has been gratefully acknowledged as making a difference in the harmony of the event.

What different ways might you find to work with your local interfaith group?

Example of Interfaith Love

By Marilyn McPherson

I was struck by the final 3 paragraphs of the interview with outgoing First Reader of TMC Sandy Sandberg, from the October Journal, which to me exemplifies the way of harmony that is the natural outcome of learning more about and connecting with members of other Christian denominations and other faiths:

“When I was a Christian Science chaplain in the military, I worked with a Baptist chaplain—he was my supervisor—and we developed a very close relationship. He was so incredibly kind, gentle, and caring in his approach—so embracing of everyone and forgiving of shortcomings. I sensed he was genuinely living a “love your neighbor as yourself” example that I could only aspire to at that point in my experience. And I recognized that, and I loved him for what he was showing me from his own religious tradition.

“We would exchange so many ideas, and he’d ask me from time to time about Christian Science. I didn’t have to convert him. The important thing was seeing the power of good, the power of Truth, the power of Love at work in what we were both aspiring to do in helping others.

“The day I left the unit, and we were parting ways, we sat on a bench together outside. He turned to me and said, ‘Sandy, one day we’re all going to sit down on the banks of the river Jordan. And we’re going to laugh about these silly distinctions that we mortals make between the gospel message—that it means this or it means that—when we know what it really means. It means loving each other the way God loves us.'”

Isn’t that beautifully expressed?

True, I have encountered the writings and teachings of Christian mystics and luminaries from the Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Native American traditions, but I don’t feel that I really know what I, as a CS branch church member, could or should be doing to connect with local faith communities.  My thought is that I can at least share my thoughts, doubts, uncertainties and inspiration in this discussion group and learn what others of you are thinking and doing.  Can I do more than post messages online and speak with other branch church members and visitors about interfaith and ecumenical ideas?  How are any of you thinking about these questions?  How are you praying about peace among adherents of different religions and spiritual traditions, including those who espouse no faith?

The Ten Commandments in Contemporary Language

A few years ago my Sunday School class and I brainstormed how we could make the Ten Commandments ‘relevant’ to our daily experience. We didn’t feel like we had vital ways to apply the commandments. For example, we felt we could check-off the box for “not stealing” and “not killing”, so were those still something we should keep active in our daily decisions? So, we re-framed them, and came up with this list.

As a resource, I’m providing them in three ways: within the text of this post, as a PDF document, and as a Word document  (so you can refine them further for your own Sunday School class).

Enjoy these, please share, but always please include the original source, in this case Jason Marsh.

Ten Commandments in contemporary language

By Jason Marsh, October, 2011

1)            Accept no “other” outside the Infinite – only God

2)            Have no “image” (thought) but perfection – for self and others

3)            Expect good, expect healing, don’t use God’s name if you don’t mean it – why pray if you don’t expect results?

4)            Live in the Now – on the Sabbath and every day, hour, and minute

5)            Love without prejudice (to age or bodily description, including parents )

6)            Encourage others and yourself by not killing ideas -> bring positive energy into all your interactions/activities

7)            Respect the sanctity of identity & body – for yourself and others (no body manipulation)

8)            Acknowledge abundance for yourself

9)            Be honest to yourself, and therefore others

10)         Acknowledge abundance for others, humbly see that their good is included in your good

Note: first 3 relate to your relationship to God, 4th is a transition (both), and last 6 relate to your relationship with others.