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Chapter III – Legalism's Challenge to Mrs. Eddy's Church Manual

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Exposure is necessary to ensure the avoidance of evil. (S&H. 571:4)

Covering iniquity will prevent prosperity and the ultimate triumph of any cause (S&H. 446:30)

Resisting evil, you overcome it. (S&H. 446:24)

OUR church must "be rescued from the grasp of legal power and now it must be put back into the arms of if we would not be found fighting against God"--Mary Baker Eddy

This chapter will discuss the nature of the permanency or impermanency of The Mother Church, and will further consider the Church Manual of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, and how the Boston hierarchy's legal interpretation of the Church Manual declaring the material organization to be permanent--has all but destroyed the great prosperity the Christian Science Movement enjoyed at the beginning of this century.

There had always been those who felt Mrs. Eddy's Manual should be obeyed as written--that the estoppels should be obeyed as written. After the "great literature litigation" of 1919-1922 an increasing number of Christian Scientists raised the question of obedience to the estoppels. These continuing expostulations from the Field resulted in the publication of a series of tracts by the Boston authorities, stressing the "permanency of The Mother Church and its Manual ."

These pamphlets--especially a pamphlet entitled, The Permanency of The Mother Church and Its Manual, for sale in Christian Science Reading Rooms, raised questions in members' minds: If Mary Baker Eddy formed a church and intended it to continue forever, why is it necessary to print pamphlets presenting opinions and interpretations from legal groups to justify its continued existence? On the other hand if Mrs. Eddy did not intend the church organization to continue forever, why is there such a concerted effort by the Boston church authorities to continue the organization through legal means in the face of Mrs. Eddy's instructions?

Mrs. Eddy found that when she could no longer devote most of her time to the church organization it quickly deteriorated. This convinced her that it was time to go forward in spiritual organization alone, and that she must spend the next few years in revising the textbook to make it the teacher of the future. In 1889 she therefore asked her students to disorganize. And while the second organization was not yet even contemplated we already see in the following statement, though faintly delineated, the certain coming of the estoppels:

When students have fulfilled all the good ends of organization, and are convinced that by leaving the material forms thereof a higher spiritual unity is won, then is the time to follow the example of the Alma Mater. Material organization is requisite in the beginning; but when it has done its work, the purely Christly method of teaching and preaching must be adopted.

Here is clear evidence that Mary Baker Eddy did not intend the material church organization to continue forever. In dissolving The Mother Church through her estoppel clauses she was again setting an example as she had previously done in dissolving the first organization in 1889, at which time she urged them on to spiritual organization alone, saying: "I am still with you on the field of battle, taking forward marches, broader and higher views, and with the hope that you will follow."

Further testimony indicating Mrs. Eddy's fundamental distrust of continued material organization is found in the following:

The apprehension of what has been, and must be, the final outcome of material organization, which wars with Love's spiritual compact, caused me to dread the unprecedented popularity of my College ..."

Despite the prosperity of my church, it was learned that material organization has its value and peril, and that organization is requisite only in the earliest period in Christian history. After this material form of cohesion and fellowship has accomplished its end, continued organization retards spiritual growth, and should be laid off--even as the corporeal organization deemed requisite in the first stages of mortal existence is finally laid off, in order to gain spiritual freedom and supremacy.

That Mrs. Eddy hoped her students would follow her example there is ample evidence. But, as Jesus, Moses, and other great spiritual leaders found, she could not legislate or force spiritual freedom on her students.

In Permanency of The Mother Church, Judge Smith writes:

From the time she founded The Mother Church, all that she did and said evinced the intention that it should be permanent.

The continued policy of the Board of Directors of The Mother Church, since 1910, to lean on, promote, and emphasize material organization in their reach for power and authority, has all been done despite the estoppel clauses in the Manual which definitely unfrocked the five-member ecclesiastical Board at the June, 1911, Annual Meeting when these church officers could not be reelected without the consent and approval of the Pastor Emeritus, Mary Baker Eddy.


The first organization (1879-1889) existed with only slight central control from Boston. Mrs. Eddy sent out teachers and practitioners to various parts of the Field to found churches, to teach students, and to bring a healing activity to the local communities. The Boston church was under a civil charter just as the churches elsewhere were under civil charter. There was no central organization since its officers were concerned only with the Boston church.



The first Manual appeared in 1895, three years after the second organization was formed, and it left most functions of the church administration to the then four members of the Board of Directors, although their duties were not specifically mentioned in the Manual until several years later.


In the second Manual, also issued in 1895, Mrs. Eddy began a gradual process of delegating duties to the Board of Directors, but making their actions always subject to her approval in one form or another. Legally this is what is called "to stop," and in legal instruments an estoppel clause means a clause which stops, prevents, or bars an action.

After Mrs. Eddy's departure the Boston rulers of the Movement challenged the legality of the Manual's estoppel clauses, maintaining that since it was impossible to obtain her approval in those numerous instances in the Church Manual where such approval was mandatory, the estoppels should be waived. Thus the Board of Directors fell back on human law, for guidance, in which an impossible condition is rejected. But the Church Manual is ecclesiastical and hence not subject to interpretation by civil law criteria as the Chief Justice pointed out in the "great literature litigation. "

In a previous chapter we saw that within a month after Mrs. Eddy's passing the Board of Directors issued their own Manual, the 89th, currently in use, from which they deleted Mrs. Eddy's name and office as Pastor Emeritus.But Mary Baker Eddy, Pastor Emeritus, is an officer who cannot be replaced and the attempt to carry on The Mother Church without its chief officer, Mary Baker Eddy, to whom the By-Laws give the supervision over all the other officers, should never have been made.

In Article XXXV, Sections I and 3 (pp. 104 and 105) of the Church Manual, Mrs. Eddy wrote:

Article XXXV, Section 1: This Manual shall not be revised without the written consent of its author [Mary Baker Eddy].

Section 3: No new Tenet or By-Law shall be adopted, nor any Tenet or By-Law amended or annulled, without the written consent of Mary Baker Eddy, the author of our textbook, Science and Health.

In Article XXXV Section 3, Mrs. Eddy says that the By-Laws shall not be "annulled" without her written consent. Yet this is what the Board has done since our Leader's passing, through legally challenging the estoppels in the Manual. The words remain--no amendment or revision has been made to remove the estoppels--but the estoppels are quietly ignored to insure the permanency of The Mother Church and its officers, the five-member ecclesiastical Board which usurped power at Mrs. Eddy's passing.

According to Parliamentary law one of the oldest methods of amending is to "strike out" certain phrases or clauses or portions of a document. It is self-evident that the waiving or disregarding of the Manual estoppels was, in effect, none other than the well-known Parliamentary law method of amending by "striking out!

At this point it is important to remember that the legal Deed of Trust of March 19, 1903, conveyed the land for the Extension "on the further trust that no new Tenet or By-Law shall be adopted, nor any Tenet or By-Law amended or annulled by the grantees unless the written consent of said Mary Baker G. Eddy ... be given therefor." Her incorporation of this "estoppel" in her legal document absolutely bound the Board of Directors to obey all the estoppels in the Church Manual.


The eighth Manual formalized the ecclesiastical Board of Directors, establishing that it could not fill vacancies on its own responsibility, and thus we see that two Boards of Directors have been established: one fiduciary" and self perpetuating; the other ecclesiastical and not self perpetuating. Additional changes deprived the Board of electing Readers. The Board could now only nominate Readers for The Mother Church and Mrs. Eddy had to approve them. Similarly, candidates for "First Members" had to be approved by Mrs. Eddy and then elected by a unanimous vote of First Members whereas, under previous By-Law provisions, this could all have been done by the Board of Directors. This curtailing and chipping away at the authority of the Directors, by Mrs. Eddy, was all done to prevent an ecclesiastical hierarchy from developing at her departure, and to keep her church from again falling into "the grasp of legal power."


In the tenth Manual, issued in 1899, the Board was mentioned for the first time-four years after the first Manual, and seven years after the ecclesiastical church was formed. (This was the four-member Board wearing ecclesiastical hats, as it were.)

In this Manual Mrs. Eddy's approval was required for the election of a President, by the Board. (See current Manual p. 25:5, Article 1, Section 2.)


In the twelfth Manual a new By-Law stated it was the duty of the church to see that the periodicals were ably edited and managed, but in a later Manual this was changed to read that it was the duty of the Board of Directors to see that the periodicals were ably edited and managed. We can see how Mrs. Eddy was simplifying her plan to terminate The Mother Church at her passing, because an estoppel clause would preclude the reelection of the five-member ecclesiastical Board.

In the summer of 1908, after the Church By-Laws had practically reached their present state of completeness, and all of the discipline and executive management of the church had passed into the hands of the Board of Directors, Mrs. Eddy repealed the By-Law providing for "Executive Members (formerly known as "First Members"). This left the Board of Directors--subject to Mrs. Eddy's supervision and control--in full charge of the business of The Mother Church. This was the situation the Directors found themselves in at the time of Mrs. Eddy's passing, December 3, 1910. The only thing that then stood in the way of dissolving the material organization and all centralized control was the willingness of the Directors to obey the Church Manual containing estoppel clauses.

When the Board of Directors returned the church to "the grasp of legal power" Mrs. Eddy's plan was temporarily defeated; nevertheless "it is only a question of time when God shall reveal His rod, and show the plan of battle."


The eighteenth Manual was issued in 1900. In this Manual the Librarian of The Mother Church was to be elected by the Board of Directors subject to the approval of the Pastor Emeritus. The Librarian had previously been elected by the Trustees of the Publishing Society, so the change was necessary because had the Librarian been under the control of the Publishing Society when The Mother Church was dissolved, it would have worked against the Deed of Trust of the Publishing Society.


In the twentieth Manual, issued in 1901, the business affairs of the Church were shifted from the First Members to the Board of Directors. Mrs. Eddy foresaw that the First Members would shortly be disbanded and that the business affairs of the church would have to rest with the Board of Directors so that the whole operation, as we just saw, could be dissolved by authority of the estoppels when she passed on.


In the twenty-eighth Manual, issued in February of 1903, an important change was made; the number of Directors (ecclesiastical) was changed from four members to five members. The Deed of Trust of September 1, 1892, was irrevocable and had four Directors, so this change in the Manual had nothing to do with the number of Directors under that Deed. Further, the Deed of Trust of March 19th, 1903, covering land for the Extension, which Mrs. Eddy executed a month later, again named four Directors, and so confirmed the four Directors in the Deed of September 1, 1892. This makes it clear that Mrs. Eddy had two Boards, one ecclesiastical and temporary, under the Manual, to be terminated when she was no longer present to consent and approve. The other Board was a self-perpetuating Board, affirmed and reaffirmed after the Manual change to five Directors. Archibald McClellan took office as the fifth Director in February of 1903.

Thus we see that the four Directors in the irrevocable Deed of Trust remained four in number regardless of the change in the ecclesiastical Board of Directors governed by the Church Manual.


In the twenty-ninth Manual, issued in 1903, the Board was authorized to see that the officers of the church faithfully performed their duties.

In the twelfth Manual "the church" had been entrusted with the obligation to see that the periodicals were ably edited and managed. In the twenty-ninth Manual this is changed, and the Board of Directors is charged with this responsibility. When The Mother Church and its officers were dissolved by the estoppels, this obligation was the sole responsibility of the Publishing Society Trustees under their Deed of Trust.

This is the Manual that George Lincoln Putnam referred to as "such a bitter pill for the Directors" because it forbade the Directors to make new by-laws; compelled the Directors, Clerk, Treasurer, and Committees to report to the members at the annual church meeting; and placed the supreme power in The Mother Church in the hands of the members. A two-thirds vote of the Executive Members (who had succeeded the First Members by a By-Law change in this same twenty-ninth Manual) with the consent of the Pastor Emeritus, could now remove all of the Board of Directors-- meaning of course the five-member ecclesiastical Board. Therefore, both the Finance Committee and the Executive Members had the opportunity to remove the five-member ecclesiastical Board which operated under the Church Manual.

It is of interest to note in connection with the legal church under the Deed of Trust of September 1, 1892, and the ecclesiastical church under the Manual, that the present Article XXIII, Section 1, titled "Local Self-government," originally read: "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Mass." This was now changed to read: "The Mother Church of Christ, Scientist ..." as in our present Manual. This accomplished two things, says Dr. Shawk in his recorded talks on the Church Manual: it removed the fiduciary church, under the legal Deed of Trust, from the ecclesiastical Manual, and at the same time placed a ban on The Mother Church's interference with the branches in any way. We see again how carefully Mrs. Eddy planned to prevent her church falling prey to legalism's challenge.

The impermanency of The Mother Church and its auxiliary activities is most apparent in the two legal Deeds of Trust Mrs. Eddy placed in the Church Manual, and which we will take up next.


In the Church Manual, pp. 128-135, there is a legal Deed of Trust dated September 1, 1892, naming four Directors: Ira O. Knapp, William B. Johnson, Joseph S. Eastaman, and Stephen A. Chase, "and to their legitimate successors in office forever."

The Deed provides, among other things, that "said grantees shall be known as the 'Christian Science Board of Directors,'" and shall constitute a perpetual body or corporation.

Paragraph six says that "the congregation which shall worship in said church shall be styled 'The First Church of Christ, Scientist."

Paragraph ten states: "Whenever said Directors shall determine that it is inexpedient to maintain preaching, reading, or speaking in said church in accordance with this deed, they are authorized and required to reconvey forthwith said lot of land with the buildings thereon to Mary Baker G. Eddy, her heirs and assigns forever by a proper deed of conveyance . "

The second document, dated March 19, 1903 (see Manual p. 136) is a Deed of Trust conveying land for a church edifice. Early in the Deed we find the following statement: "that the land conveyed by said deed was conveyed to the grantees therein, as they are the Christian Science Board of Directors, upon the trusts, but not subject to the conditions mentioned in the deed creating said Board [Ira 0. Knapp, William B. Johnson, Stephen A. Chase and Joseph Armstrong who had replaced Eastaman during those eleven years] given by Mary Baker G. Eddy to Ira 0. Knapp and others, dated September 1, 1892. ... In addition to the trusts contained in said deed of September 1, 1892, from Mary Baker G. Eddy, this property is conveyed on the further trusts that no new Tenet or By-Law shall be adopted, nor any Tenet or By-Law amended or annulled by the grantees...."

We can see that in the first of the two deeds:

(1) The Board of Directors was formed, and provision made for its continuity as long as required.

(2) The edifice was authorized and its use outlined.

(3) The CONGREGATION to worship in the (little) Mother Church was named "The First Church of Christ, Scientist." (It is the little, original church, at first called 'Mother's church" that is referred to here.)

(4) The deed is irrevocable and perpetual.

(5) Provision is made for the dissolution of this trust and all of its conditions.

We can likewise see that in the second of the two deeds:

(1) All trusts in the first deed are included in the second deed.

(2) None of the conditions of the first deed are included in the second deed.

(3) An additional trust is included covering Tenets and By-Laws.

(4) The number of Directors established in the first Deed is reaffirmed in the second Deed. There are still four. They are specifically named.


In between the execution of the two Deeds of Trust, as we have already seen, Mrs. Eddy, in the 28th Manual in February, 1903, changed the number of Directors, creating a five-member Board. A month later she reaffirmed a legal Board of four members in her March 19,1903 Deed of Trust.

The dates are significant because the change from four to five Directors in the Church Manual, and the reaffirmation a month or so later, in the second Deed, of the four-member Board established in the 1892 Deed, shows that Mrs. Eddy made the five-member Board an ecclesiastical body under the Manual, and retained the four Directors in the Trust Deeds as self-perpetuating fiduciary members.

In the next chapter we will see how this matter of the two different Boards relates to civil law



We have now seen how Mrs. Eddy established and identified two Boards of Directors. The first under the Deed of Trust of September 1, 1892, consisted of four members authorized to fill vacancies in their own ranks on their own responsibility. Under the conditions of that Deed they could dissolve all operations when it was deemed inexpedient to maintain preaching, etc. (Paragraph 10; see also paragraphs 9 and 11 of Deed.)

Since this Deed was a legal, civil document, the Board of Directors was responsible first to the law of the land.

Thus we have seen that eleven years later (and after she had named an ecclesiastical Board of five Directors) Mrs. Eddy on March 19,1903, executed a second Deed of Trust in which she affirmed and reaffirmed the establishment of the "Christian Science Board of Directors" under the 1892 Deed, and again identified this group as being composed of FOUR named individuals. Further, while they were governed by all of the trusts of the earlier Deed, none of the conditions of the first Deed extended to the second Deed (See Manual pp. 136-138, or Appendix, p. 185). However a very important stipulation was contained in the second Deed, namely that no new Tenet could be adopted, nor any changes be made in the existing Tenets or By-Laws. The wording is almost identical with that found in Article XXXV, Sections 1 and 3, of the Manual.

Then we saw that in the 28th Manual of February, 1903, Mrs. Eddy had changed the number of members constituting the Board of Directors under the Church Manual (Art. 1, Sec. 5) from four to five members. This change in the By-Laws established a second Board of Directors whose authority and duties flowed from the ecclesiastical document governing The Mother Church, meaning the Manual of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts. This Board is ecclesiastical. Its members cannot be elected unless the candidate is approved by the Pastor Emeritus (see Article I, See. 5, p. 26, lines 21-25 of the current Manual), Provision for the removal of one or all of the five-member ecclesiastical Board was made by Mary Baker Eddy in Art. 1, See. 5, p. 26, and See. 9, p. 29; and Art XXIV, See. 6, p. 77.

Compare these regulations for the ecclesiastical Board with those for the fiduciary Board, and it becomes apparent that (a) the two Boards are not the same; (b) the ecclesiastical Board could be removed at any time; the fiduciary Board could not. The ecclesiastical Board is controlled by the estoppel clauses requiring the approval of Mrs. Eddy (or Pastor Emeritus) in one form or another (and this ecclesiastical Board would be dissolved at the passing of Mrs. Eddy); and (c) the fiduciary Board, while it could terminate itself by its own decision, did not need Mrs. Eddy to give personal approval as is required in the Church Manual for the ecclesiastical Board.

This is all relevant to the question of the "permanency" of The Mother Church, the tract mentioned earlier, entitled, Permanency of The Mother Church and Its Manual, by Clifford P Smith, with Foreword by the Board of Directors.

In this tract Judge Smith also implies that with no Mother Church there can be no branches. But the fact is that at the time Mrs. Eddy dissolved her first Boston organization in 1889 there were 98 churches in the country (see February Journal of 1890); and just prior to the formation of the second organization on September 23,1892, there were 210 churches (see September Journal, 1892). Thus in the interim, when there was NO Boston organization (no Mother Church) in being, 112 churches were established.

Then he states: "Later she established the present worldwide organization, The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, and its branches. ..." This is not correct, because by the Deed of Trust of September 1, 1892, Mrs. Eddy only provided a place where a "congregation" could worship, and "the congregation which shall worship in said church shall be styled "the First Church of Christ, Scientist (Man. p. 132:4). Nothing is mentioned about "The Mother Church" or a "worldwide organization'"

Additionally, Article XXIII, Section 2, "Titles" states:

" 'The First Church of Christ, Scientist,' is the legal title of The Mother Church." The Mother Church itself, being ecclesiastical, has no legal status. The Board of Directors' statement indicates that The Mother Church embraces The First Church of Christ, Scientist, "and this," states Dr. Shawk, is thus incorrect. The Mother Church does not embrace The First Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston. Through the estoppel clauses in the Manual The Mother Church was dissolved completely at Mrs. Eddy's passing and so could embrace no Church of Christ, Scientist. The First Church of Christ, Scientist, could embrace a spiritual concept of The Mother Church but not the reverse.

Further, on the second page of the Board of Directors' Foreword to Smith's tract, we read: "Under the jurisdiction of this Church, through provisions written by Mrs. Eddy in the Church Manual, she established the many needful activities of the Christian Science movement."

Let us see what Mrs. Eddy did provide temporarily while she was still here to govern and supervise, and what the Manual actually provides: Article 1, Section 8, "Trusteeships and Syndicates states, "Boards of Trustees and Syndicates may be formed by The Mother Church, subject to the approval of the Pastor Emeritus." Thus the Manual PROHIBITS the formation of what the Board of Directors in their "Foreword" refer to as "the many needful activities of the Christian Science Movement," initiated by The Mother Church, since Mrs. Eddy's passing in 1910.

In the Foreword to Permanency of The Mother Church, the Board of Directors also indicate that the Christian Science Publishing Society was created by the Manual.

This is not correct.

Mrs. Eddy formed the publishing Society by a Deed of Trust executed January 25th, 1898, and the 8th Manual of 1898 carried a portion of the provisions of the Publishing Society Deed of Trust. As long as Mrs. Eddy remained with us the Publishing Society had a relation to The Mother Church, but it had no relation at any time to The First Church of Christ, Scientist, under the Deed of Trust of September 1, 1892.

Continuing in their "Foreword" to Permanency of The Mother Church, the Board of Directors refer to the provision for the proper training of teachers of C.S. and for the conduct of their classes and the annual meeting of their students, etc. But under Article XXVIII, Section 2, we again find an estoppel clause which brings to a halt "official" teaching when Mrs. Eddy's approval is no longer available. But, as we have already seen, this does not prevent teaching. Mrs. Eddy opened the door to all genuine teaching when she wrote: "The student who heals by teaching and teaches by healing will graduate under divine honors which are the only appropriate seals for Christian Science ... Qualifications for membership in Mrs. Eddy's spiritual church are: "The Bible, together with Science and Health and other works by Mary Baker Eddy, shall be his only textbooks for ... teaching and practicing metaphysical healing." Nothing about being "officially" taught.

Through the estoppels Mrs. Eddy terminated all centralized control, insisting individuals are entitled to freedom of thought and action in religion and Science, "Let us serve instead of rule...and allow to each and every one the same rights and privileges we claim for ourselves." Yet, as Professor Braden states:

... there is nowhere now any more centrally controlled religious organization than the church she founded. As a matter of fact, it is the rigidity of the organizational structure with its extraordinary controls over its branch churches, its members, and particularly over its teachers, readers, lecturers, practitioners, and other responsible leaders, that has been the occasion for most of the conflict that has been aroused.

This "control" is particularly noticeable in the teaching field. Within the Movement today there are many excellent spiritually minded teachers, but once they have been made an "official" teacher they have signed away all rights to speak, write or publish freely. Everything must be "approved" by the Board of Directors. This bondage to a Board of--Director mind--control system is the antithesis of all Mary Baker Eddy taught. Our cause can only be carried forward as her admonition is heeded: "Let the Word have free course and be glorified." The present sad condition of our branch churches is the result of the control the Boston organization maintains over them, even to the point of having it written into their by-laws that when they close and are sold, the proceeds are to go to The Mother Church. This is currently a much-discussed subject.

Earlier we spoke of Mrs. Eddy's letters of warning to the church and to William B. Johnson, clerk of The Mother Church, apprising them of the dire consequences of organizing a second time, predicting it would "ruin the prosperity of the church." To ward off the impending danger she foresaw, she allowed a "Mother Church" to exist only so long as she was personally there to govern it. Once it was decided to reorganize, she would not permit her Board of Directors or other immediate students to set up their own church organization, as can be inferred from the following news item [circa 1892]:

...When they met in Miss Bartlett's rooms for the purpose agreed upon, Dr. Foster Eddy was there to present...Mrs. Eddy's plan for founding the church...Later Mrs. Eddy was to point out that this was not the Board of Directors' church, or anybody else's church, but definitely "my church" [Stetson, Sermons, pp. 218-220]. Eventually she stipulated that all...deeds must include the phrase "Mary Baker Eddy's Church" (Man. p. 102:16, Article XXXIV, Section 2). Plainly the church was to be hers and not theirs.

When inquiries came from the Field as to whether the Manual also governed the branch churches, a representative was sent to ask Mrs. Eddy about this. She replied, "Anyone should be able to see that the Manual is only for a church that I control." While Mrs. Eddy was with us it may have appeared to the Field that the Board of Directors was in control, but the real control was always with Mrs. Eddy The Directors did whatever Mrs. Eddy directed them to do. She held the reins at all times, and could at any moment dismiss a Board member or the entire Board.


Facsimile exerpt from Mrs. Eddy's letter pointing out that The First Church of Christ, Scientist was her church and not the Board of Directors' church.





In their decision dated November 23, 1921, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts recognized that there were two Boards of Directors. (The Court, of course, did not recognize this fact in the sense of making a correct differentiation.) They saw that one Board was ecclesiastical, deriving its powers from the Church Manual and composed of five members.

The second Board of Directors derived its power from the 1892 Deed of Trust, and was a self-perpetuating legal body. Its functions are defined in the Manual (pp. 128-135), none of which extend beyond the local Boston church.

It was to the advantage of the five-member ecclesiastical Board of Directors to confuse church members regarding the five-member Board and the four-member Board. An article by George Wendell Adams, a former Director of The Mother Church, reveals this confusion, resulting from the Directors' attempts to hold a completely spiritual organization in the grasp of material organization.


In his article, George Wendell Adams states, "Another significant fact is that the Deed of Trust which was the nucleus of The Mother Church organization ...."

This is not correct. Neither the Deed of Trust of September 1, 1892, nor the Deed of Trust of March 19,1903, had anything to do with The Mother Church organization, nor did it have anything to do with the Manual or any other ecclesiastical matter. It did relate to the Manual in that the 1903 Deed of Trust granted land for the extension on the condition that the By-Laws in the Manual would be obeyed as written with its estoppel clauses.

(The Manual, p. 132, paragraph 6, says: "The congregation which shall worship in said church shall be styled "The First Church of Christ, Scientist."') Adams' article further states that the Deed of Trust "does not call for Mrs. Eddy's approval in writing or otherwise...." This is correct, but it has nothing to do with the ecclesiastical Board of five Directors under the By-Laws of the Manual who do require Mrs. Eddy's consent and approval.

On page 3 Adams states: "This deed, dated September 1, 1892 ... created the Board of Directors and provided for their successors in office,..." which is correct, but he adds, "...and for certain other important administrative offices and functions of fundamental importance. This again is incorrect, as can readily be seen by reading Mrs. Eddy's provisions in the Deed of Trust in the Manual, paragraphs 1 through 11, on pp. 130-133, where the actual functions of the Board of Directors are defined. They are limited to keeping a preacher or reader in the pulpit, keeping the building in repair, etc. The building was to be maintained as a local branch church for the people of Boston who wished to worship in that edifice. Nothing is mentioned about "other important administrative offices and functions of fundamental importance. "

In his article, Adams refers to the letter Mrs. Eddy wrote the Board of Directors in response to their letter pertaining to legal matters (which we noted in Chapter IL p. 55). There we noted Mrs. Eddy's primary concern was not with "legal" matters but with strict obedience to her By-Laws as written.

In this letter Mrs. Eddy wrote that if she was not personally with them her instructions in the By-Laws would remain to guide them safely on; and the teachings of St. Paul, she said, are as useful today as when they were first written.

In commenting on this letter from Mrs. Eddy, Dr. Shawk says that one of St. Paul's teaching was, "Dare any of you, having a matter against another, go to law before the unjust, and not before the saints?" (I Cor. 6:1).

Thus, we come to "the law" implied in Mrs. Eddy's reference to the teachings of St. Paul. In this matter of law, various versions of George Wendell Adams' church tract have appeared over the years and in each version one or more letters from prominent Boston legal firms are quoted in full, indicating the Board's need to justify its position legally.

In an early version, copyright 1927 by the Christian Science Publishing Society, three such letters from legal firms were included. The first was from

Choate, Hall & Stewart

Counselors at Law

30 State St. Boston

(June 30,1926)

The second letter is from

John L. Bates

Counselor at Law

73 Tremont St. Boston

(Sept.3, 1926)

The third letter is from

Abbot, Dane, Buffum & Sanderson

Counselors at Law

73 Tremont Street, Boston

(March 21, 1927)

On the other hand, the Honorable Charles Evans Hughes--who later became Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court-saw the issue clearly, and in his summary argument for the Publishing Trustees, said:

There are two conceptions of harmony One is teachings the harmony produced by despotic power; the other is the harmony that results from the unity of ideas and common views of a religious truth. It seems to us most unjust to Mrs. Eddy, most contrary to her, to assume for a moment that she relied upon the exercise of the despotic power which these Directors have arrogated to themselves.

... The unity which these [Directors) wish, the unity of despotic power, the control absolutely of this entire government of Christian Science in the church and in the publications and everywhere else, that is the unity which might well destroy the very faith of the organization for the propagation of the faith to which they profess to be devoted.

Returning to Judge Clifford P. Smith's article contained in the George Wendell Adams church tract, and entitled, "Mrs. Eddy's Expressed Intention" (p. 10), he states:

As distinguished from earlier forms of Christian Science organization, The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, was founded and organized by a Deed of Trust, dated September 1, 1892, and a meeting of First Members held on September 23, 1892.

This is not true as can be seen by a perusal of pp. 128-135 of the Manual, or Appendix, p. 182. The Deed of Trust of September 1, 1892, named the congregation which would worship in the edifice to be built as "The First Church of Christ, Scientist;" in other words, the people who worshipped in the edifice were named "The First Church of Christ, Scientist. " On the other hand, the meeting of First Members on September 23rd, 1892 (three weeks later) formed a church which at first was called "Mother's Church" and which was eventually to be known as The Mother Church. The two churches were not identical. The Mother Church with its five Directors is governed by the By-Laws found between pages 25 and 105 in the Church Manual, while The First Church of Christ, Scientist, with its four Directors was established by the Deed of Trust of 1892, and is governed by that Deed, found on page 128 of the Manual. The Mother Church was terminated with Mrs. Eddy's passing.

Officialdom's statements, such as the one just quoted from Judge Smith's article, contribute to the Field's misunderstanding regarding the difference between the fiduciary and the ecclesiastical bodies. Judge Smith concludes his initial paragraph with the sentence: "From the time she founded The Mother Church, all that she did and said evinced the intention that it should be permanent. Let's look closely at this statement. It encompasses the period from September 23, 1892, until December 3, 1910. During these eighteen years Mrs. Eddy added twenty-six or more estoppel clauses which at Mrs. Eddy's departure would terminate The Mother Church, its officers, its various offices and functions. Mrs. Eddy refers to her "instructions""as we saw earlier, in the letter dated February 27,1903 (se; Chapter II, p. 55) and which Judge Smith reproduced in his article. These "instructions" mandate the dissolution of The Mother Church when Mrs. Eddy was no longer here.

Does this evince "the intention that [The Mother Church] should be permanent"?

Judge Smith, the Board of Directors, and the legal firms retained by the Board (in the late 1920's) to confirm their assumption of control of the church government, were of course acting in accordance with their interpretation of the By-Laws which, in effect, was "legalism's challenge" to Mary Baker Eddy's divinely inspired Manual. These legal opinions are without value, however, since they are civil law interpretations of a spiritual law instrument.

Both Judge Smith and the lawyers emphasized the Deed of Trust statements regarding the Directors: "and to their legitimate successors in office forever...."

Why so much attention to this?

Under the Deed of Trust of September 1, 1892, these Directors could fill their own vacancies without reference to anyone, and since the Deed was "perpetual," the legal phrase: "and to their legitimate successors in office forever" was never questioned. But trying to grant perpetuity to the ecclesiastical Board of Directors by making them identical with the legally established Board under the Trust Deed of September 1, 1892, is an effort to annul the clause in Article 1, Section 5, p. 26 which does not provide for a self-perpetuating Board. Rather, it states:

The Christian Science Board of Directors shall consist of five members. They shall fill a vacancy occurring on that Board, after the candidate is approved by the Pastor Emeritus."

The ecclesiastical Board has always attempted to make the two Boards appear identical and to operate under the Deed of Trust provision whereby the fiduciary (the legal) Board was "perpetual." This is a violation of Article XXXV, Sections 1 and 3 of the Church Manual which states:

This Manual shall not be revised without the written consent of its author [the Pastor Emeritus, Mary Baker Eddy].

No new Tenet or By-Law shall be adopted, nor any Tenet or By-Law amended or annulled, without the written consent of Mary Baker Eddy, the author of our textbook, Science and Health.

By not defrocking themselves at the June, 1911, Annual Meeting when the Directors' terms of office expired the Board was, in effect, revising the Manual, and annulling its By-Laws.

We have already seen that "eternity awaits our Church Manual" and the Church Manual calls for the impermanence of The Mother Church. The Manual, however, is perpetual and "eternal" because it is the Manual of "The First Church of Christ, Scientist," the "perpetual" church under civil law, having been established by the Deed of Trust of September 1, 1892. The Manual, through its estoppel clauses, eternally guards the freedom of every Christian Scientist.

The Church Manual controlled the ecclesiastical body, The Mother Church, and thus it controlled the members of that church, who were also ecclesiastical.

The Church Manual also has provision for the protection of the branches of the Church of Christ, Scientist. These branches are chartered under civil law and are subject to civil law.

The contents of the Church Manual itself are not under civil law. But the legal Board of four Directors is not free to disregard the Church Manual's provisions because the land in the second Deed of Trust of March 19,1903, was "conveyed on the further trusts that NO NEW TENET OR BY-LAW SHALL BE ADOPTED, NOR ANY TENET OR BY-LAW AMENDED OR ANNULLED by the grantees." Since, in this legal Deed of Trust, this additional trust was imposed on the grantees it makes the adherence to this trust a matter of civil law.


It is interesting to note that the Boston congregation which met in the little Mother Church was given the capitalized "The," as we saw--"The First Church..." to distinguish it from the other churches of Christ, Scientist, existing in Boston and elsewhere.

Now, turning to the second Deed of Trust of March 19,1903, (page 136 of the Church Manual) we see that this condition in regard to the name of the congregation using the first edifice does not apply to the congregation using the second edifice, the Extension. The Extension is branch, not Mother.

This raises an interesting question, comments Dr. Shawk. Since the Extension is branch and not "Mother," why does it appear prominently in sketches and photographs put out by the Boston Headquarters indicating the Extension is The Mother Church? This is a misrepresentation, because the Extension is a branch like any other branch in the U.S.A. or worldwide. It is inaccurate to picture it as The Mother Church.

Architectural drawing of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, completed in 1894. Expressing the outpouring gratitude of her students, it stands as an enduring recognition of her labors and achievements. In 1906 the magnificent Extension, sometimes erroneously referred to as The Mother Church, was completed.



At this Point let us briefly review the highly damaging statement in the two "BILLS in EQUITY" that the second Deed of Trust in the Manual (pages 136-138) was "supplementary to and in amendment of" the Deed of September 1, 1892. The second Deed, written a month after Mrs. Eddy created the five-member ecclesiastical Board, confirmed--reaffirmed--a Board of four Directors as the only legal and self-perpetuating Board. This second Deed was complete and self-contained. So the statement that it was "supplementary to and in amendment of" the Deed of 1892 is utterly false and it is hard to understand how Counsel for the Publishing Society Trustees could have made such an error. But they did! and it was to cost the Publishing Trustees the victory.

The second Deed of Trust didn't add anything to the first Deed. The second Deed was complete in itself and its trusts were taken verbatim from the first Deed. The second Deed being self-contained it could not "amend" anything in the first Deed. The effort seems to have been directed, mistakenly, towards combining the (little) Mother Church with the Extension. This should never have been done by the legal counsel for the Publishing Society, since the Publishing Society had nothing to gain by this effort.

This was the point on which the Publishing Trustees could have won their suit, says Dr. Shawk, had they recognized it and taken advantage of it. But, as we saw earlier, while it seems inconceivable that counsel for the Publishing Trustees could have made an error of this magnitude, "God works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform, " and one cannot doubt that the decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court was a right decision under the circumstances. It was not up to the Court to legislate freedom of religious choice onto people who had barely begun to grow toward it. We don't see much progress by "a man convinced against his will."

The legal counsel for the Board of Directors recognized this phraseology--"supplementary to and in amendment of the Deed of September 1, 1892"--as being what they needed, even though it was an error. The shrewd and astute lawyers for the Board of Directors seized on this point and used the identical phraseology in their Bill in Equity, dated April 10th, 1920. They had everything to gain through this error by the Publishing Society's lawyers, namely:

(a) The five-member ecclesiastical Board of Directors was not a self-perpetuating body since they needed Mrs. Eddy's approval to fill a vacancy in their ranks. They therefore needed to somehow tie themselves to, or get themselves confused with, the self-perpetuating legal four-member Board of Directors Mrs. Eddy established in her 1892 Deed of Trust.

(b) When Counsel for the Publishing Society Trustees erroneously characterized the 1903 self-contained (second) Deed of Trust as "supplemental to and in amendment of" the [first] Deed of September 1, 1892, they gave the lawyers for the five-member ecclesiastical Board of Directors what they needed to support their case.

(c) If the second Deed of Trust could be characterized as merely being "supplemental to, and in amendment of" the first Deed of Trust of September 1, 1892, then it could be made to appear that the (actually temporary) five-member ecclesiastical Board that Mrs. Eddy established under the Manual in February, 1903, took precedence over the 1892 Deed of Trust. But the March 19, 1903 Deed actually confirmed the four-member legal Board a month after the five-member ecclesiastical Board was established in the Manual.

The question might be asked, "Why did Mrs. Eddy include the two Deeds of Trust covering land for the two church edifices in the Church Manual?" Surely Mrs. Eddy wanted to have on record for eternity that there was a great difference between The Mother Church (ecclesiastical) and The First Church of Christ, Scientist (fiduciary), and that there was also a great difference between the five-member ecclesiastical Board of The Mother Church and the four-member legal Board of The First Church of Christ, Scientist, Boston.

It is very fortunate that these two Deeds of Trust are in the Church Manual, otherwise they could easily have disappeared, comments Dr. Shawk, and the Field would have remained ignorant of very important fundamental facts. As an illustration of this: Mrs. Eddy's card regarding her disapproval of "authorized" literature was removed from Reading Room copies of Volume IX of the Christian Science Journal. This card contained vital information concerning her opinion that rather than have an official ecclesiastical Committee select reading material for Christian Scientists, she considered each of her students capable of selecting his or her own reading material. Had her instruction on this absolutely crucial point been preserved in the Manual the policy of "authorized literature" could not have been imposed on the Field over these many years. The fear that has been instilled in Church members regarding the reading of Christian Science literature not "authorized" by the Board of Directors in Boston is completely incomprehensible to those outside official church circles. The Board's chief weapon is fear. Veiled threats of excommunication with its resultant disgrace, and ostracism by fellow Christian Scientists, keep dissenters in line.


The four-member legal Board of Directors, under their Deed of Trust, had authority only over the local Boston church. Both the little Mother Church and The First Church of Christ, Scientist, became, in effect, branch churches at Mrs. Eddy's passing. If branch churches were in fact branches of The Mother Church then dissolution of The Mother Church at Mrs. Eddy's passing would also have dissolved the branches then existing. But Article XXIII, Section 6, provides for the continuity of those branches after her passing.

Here again we come to the important question: Did Mrs. Eddy intend for the human organization, including the branch churches, to go on forever after she was no longer here to control it?

At this point Dr. Shawk calls special attention to page 72:19 of the Manual which reads:

If the Pastor Emeritus, Mrs. Eddy, should relinquish her place as the head or Leader of The Mother Church of Christ, Scientist, each branch church shall continue its present form of government in consonance with The Mother Church Manual.

Shawk says: "Read this again, and note that 'each branch church shall continue its present form of government...." This means that no more branches could be formed after her passing since a church formed after her passing could not continue its present form of government.' It had not yet been created, and thus could not 'continue.' This again testifies that Mrs. Eddy did not intend for the material organization to continue when she was no longer here to control it."

On the basis of the above-quoted By-Law the thousand or so branches became fixed at the June, 1911, Annual Meeting when the estoppels dissolved The Mother Church, and no more branches were to be formed. Only the branches that existed at that time could be called branches.


Through the entirely separate establishment of the Publishing Society, Mrs. Eddy hoped to protect Christian Science from an ecclesiastical hierarchy, and to give Christian Science to the entire world. She did not copyright her last fourteen editions of Science and Health even though they contained vital and far-reaching "changes"--momentous scientific changes--which consummated the teachings of the Christian Science textbook. Here it must be remembered that Mrs. Eddy said, "I have revised Science and Health only to give a clearer and fuller expression of its original meaning. Spiritual ideas unfold as we advance." A Science doesn't need to be copyrighted. "Christian Science is not copyrighted," and a Science doesn't need a church. A church can only hinder a Science. Religion binds thought back to outgrown modes. Science eternally unfolds new, higher, light. Mrs. Eddy was concerned with spiritual development, not with becoming more "religious" or more bound back into outgrown forms of worship. Mrs. Eddy taught that all is infinite Mind, infinitely manifested, and that existence separate from divinity is illusion since all that really exists is the omnipresence of present perfection, forever unfolding new and higher views.

Sooner or later every Scientist must learn to prefer the divine facts of reality to his dearest illusions.

Having a divine outlook, Mrs. Eddy hoped to establish Christian Science through spiritual means alone. Each individual must learn for himself the Science of the Christ which she discovered. Living in a religious age, her followers, clogged by their materiality, clamored for a "church" and a church was formed as a concession to the spiritual benightedness of that period, with the hope that it would be a step in the way of leading humanity to an understanding of the "CHURCH UNIVERSAL AND TRIUMPHANT," which is found in the Christian Science textbook and not in a material church organization. Succinctly Mrs. Eddy defines Church on page 583 of Science and Health as:

The structure of Truth and Love; whatever rests upon and proceeds from divine Principle.

The Church is that institution which affords proof of its utility and is found elevating the race, rousing the dormant understanding from material beliefs to the apprehension of spiritual ideas and the demonstration of divine Science, thereby casting out devils, or error, and healing the sick.

Correctly seen, the Manual and the Christian Science textbook complement each other. The Manual liberates Christian Science from the shackles of organized religion and so frees us from the materiality that would try to "hold Spirit in the grasp of matter."

The various documents we are examining in this book bear on "Church" and are an aid to seeing that Church (meaning the CHURCH UNIVERSAL AND TRIUMPHANT) is not to be found in material organization but in the textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures. Through its teaching we find ourselves to be the image and likeness of the Father-Mother God, or man, the generic term for mankind. Because Mrs. Eddy knew that this state of consciousness cannot be attained within organizational fetters, i.e. by material ways and means, she inserted in the Church Manual estoppel clauses designed to terminate the material organization at her passing. But when legalism challenged Mary Baker Eddy's Manual as written, and the estoppels were waived, the harmonious church government she had planned did not materialize. Instead conflict ensued and led to the great literature litigation which we will discuss next.

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Mary Baker Eddy's Church Manual & Church Universal and Triumphant

Introduction | Ch. 1 | Ch. 2 | Ch. 3 | Ch. 4 | Ch.5



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