CHRISTIAN SCIENCE IN UTAH

[Please note: the original article authored by David M. Walden appears immediately below. However, updates and clarifications have been contributed by the Christian Science Committee on Publication for Utah and can be read later in this article, marked as an addendum.]

The Church of Christ, Scientist, founded in 1879 by Mary Baker Eddy "to reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing," has been in Utah for over a century. Its state history began in July 1891 when Mrs. Eddy sent one of her followers, Mrs. N. A. Bagley of Chicago, to Salt Lake City to organize a branch church. This led to the formation of the first Utah congregation, the present First Church of Christ, Scientist, Salt Lake City, incorporated on 27 August 1891. Mrs. Bagley returned to Chicago after the church was started.

The small group initially met at various sites, including members' homes, the Odd Fellows Hall, and the Jewish synagogue. In 1897 the thirty-three local members voted to build their own church, located at 352 East 300 South. The Richardsonian Romanesque structure was planned by architect Walter E. Ware, who also designed the First Presbyterian Church, St. Mark's Hospital, the Old Masonic Temple, and many other structures in Salt Lake City.

On Sunday, 27 November 1898, the new church was dedicated, according to church policy, free of debt. At least 1,000 people crowded into the church, which was designed for a seating capacity of 650. Christian Scientists from several nearby states traveled to Salt Lake City for the occasion. Services were opened by Mrs. Frank D. Kimball, acting First Reader in the absence of Lewis B. Coates, who was back east on church business with Mrs. Eddy. Mrs. Kimball read a letter from Mrs. Eddy praising the dedication of the Utah members. Thus began the thirty-second Christian Science branch church, which was restored in the 1970s and placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Increased participation led to the formation of a new congregation. In 1909, 115 members withdrew from the First Church and organized the Second Church of Christ, Scientist, Salt Lake City. Land was purchased at 566 East South Temple, and the new debt-free structure was dedicated on 17 March 1918. This church building was sold in the early 1960s and the Second Church held its first services in a new meetinghouse on Foothill Drive in 1965.

The third Christian Science church in Salt Lake City was started in 1952 when twelve individuals organized a society to serve the southeastern part of the city and to relieve members of the long drive to the two other churches in the downtown area. Services were first held in a rented house at 2605 East 3300 South. This society was renamed the First Church of Christ, Scientist, Millcreek, in 1964 and then in 1974 became known as the Third Church of Christ, Scientist, Salt Lake City.

There are two long-time Christian Science churches outside of Salt Lake City. The First Church of Christ, Scientist, Ogden, was started in May 1895. Meetings were held in various locations until in 1899 members purchased the former Presbyterian meetinghouse at 24th Street and Lincoln Avenue. In 1907 that structure was sold and meetings were held in the local Congregational church and the Masonic temple. The present building, located at the corner of Monroe Avenue and 24th Street, was dedicated on 26 December 1915.

The First Church of Christ, Scientist, Provo, began in 1897 when four persons organized an informal society, which was recognized by the Mother Church in Boston in 1898 and was incorporated according to state law on 29 November 1902. Some members came from other parts of Utah county. For example, Medora Pierson traveled by train from American Fork to serve as first reader in Provo. After meeting in temporary quarters, members built their own edifice at 105 East 100 North. The first services were held on 18 July 1926, and the new church was dedicated debt-free in 1933. Due in part to high maintenance costs, the Provo Christian Scientists recently sold their historic building and moved to a new church in Orem.

Two congregations of Christian Scientists were formed in 1979. In Park City, Mary Hanscom was a charter member and represented the Christian Science faith as an officer of the Park City Ecumenical Council of Churches. The St. George Christian Science Society serves as a religious "oasis" on Interstate 15 between the Provo and Las Vegas churches. Its Reading Room is located in the Gardener's Club Hall, built in 1867 and the oldest commercial building still being used in St. George.

In the past there have been temporary Christian Science meetings in several other communities, including Milford, Logan, Helper, Price, Green River, Richfield, Cedar City, Eureka, Garfield, and Tooele. Since some members were transient college students or railroad workers, those groups have ceased.

One of the major Christian Science contributions to Utah has been Christian Science Reading Rooms set up in convenient downtown locations and sometimes in church buildings. The public has been welcome to read, borrow, or purchase the Bible and various items of Christian Science literature, including the basic Christian Science text, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, and other works of Mary Baker Eddy, and the international newspaper, the Christian Science Monitor.

Each local Christian Science church sponsors one or more annual public lectures by an authority sent from the Mother Church in Boston. The first such lecture in Utah was given by Edward A. Kimball in the original Salt Lake Theatre in September 1898. Radio broadcasts have also disseminated Christian Science teachings to Utahns. For example, Sunday messages were broadcast on KSL Radio from 1933 to 1945, and KIXX Radio in Provo broadcast fifteen-minute programs until sometime in the 1970s. KBYU in Provo currently broadcasts the daily edition of "Monitor Radio."

Christian Science healing through prayer is a major aspect of the religion. Church publications include verified testimonies of physical and emotional healings. There have recently been some well-publicized cases in other states of Christian Science couples convicted of the wrongful deaths of their children, and some states are trying to restrict the healing/religious practices of Christian Science. However, in Utah members are protected by law to practice their faith without interference. It should also be noted that Christian Scientists obey laws requiring reporting of contagious diseases and that they may choose medical care if prayer does not resolve the situation.

To represent the church in public settings, such as with the media and the state legislature, Christian Scientists have served in Utah as a one-member committee on publications. They have included Lewis B. Coates, Clarence B. Stevens, Warwick A. Tyler, W. Clyde Price, Clarence I. Waters, Gary J. Jewkes, Muriel Ellen (Suzi) Hufford, and Michele Newport.

It is important to note the activities of at least some prominent Christian Scientists in Utah. In the 1890s Brigham Bicknell Young, his mother, and all his sisters converted from Mormonism to the new church. Young's father was a brother of Brigham Young. Young became a prominent musician and Christian Science leader in Chicago. He occasionally returned to Salt Lake City to perform and also share his faith with others to become Christian Scientists. Another prominent member was Lloyd Sneaker, a Salt Lake City architect. In 1991 John Hughes, a Pulitzer Prize winner and former editor of the Christian Science Monitor, began teaching at Brigham Young University and attending the local Christian Science congregation.

Although the number of Christian Scientists in Utah probably has been no more than a few hundred, they have maintained a presence for over a century, mainly in large cities on the Wasatch Front. The seven current Utah congregations are part of approximately 2,500 in seventy nations.

See: Kenneth L. Cannon II, "Brigham Bicknell Young, Musical Christian Scientists," Utah Historical Quarterly 50 (Spring 1982); Rennie B. Schoepflin, "Christian Science Healing in America," in Norman Gevitz, ed., Other Healers: Unorthodox Medicine in America (1988); David H. Streets, "First Church of Christ, Scientist," in David M. Walden, ed., Protestant and Catholic Churches of Provo (1986); Clarence I. Waters, "History of the Christian Science Movement in Utah," in Wain Sutton, ed., Utah: A Centennial History (1949).

David M. Walden


ADDENDUM

Revisions contributed in whole by Colleen Scott on behalf of Elizabeth Beall, the Christian Science Committee on Publication for Utah, February 2011.

Christian Science is based on the teachings of Christ Jesus. It presents God as all-powerful, ever-present, and all-good and contends that each individual, as created by God, is inseparable from God's love. This unfolding understanding of reality brings healing to individual lives. The Church of Christ, Scientist, founded in 1879 by Mary Baker Eddy "to reinstate primitive Christianity and its lost element of healing," has been in Utah for well over a century. Its history began in July 1891 when several Christian Scientists came to Salt Lake City to organize a branch church.

This led to the formation of the first Utah congregation, which later became First Church of Christ, Scientist, Salt Lake City, incorporated on August 27,1891. The small group initially met at various sites, including members' homes, the Odd Fellows Hall, and the Jewish synagogue. In 1897 the local members voted to build their own church, located at 352 East 300 South. The Richardsonian Romanesque structure was planned by architect Walter E. Ware, who also designed the First Presbyterian Church, St. Mark's Hospital, the Old Masonic Temple, and many other structures in Salt Lake City. On Sunday, November 27,1898, the new church was dedicated, according to church policy, free of debt. At least 1,000 people crowded into the church, which was designed for a seating capacity of 650. Christian Scientists from several nearby states traveled to Salt Lake City for the occasion. Services were opened by Mrs. Frank D. Kimball, acting First Reader in the absence of Lewis B. Coates, who was back east on church business with Mrs. Eddy. Mrs. Kimball read a letter from Mrs. Eddy praising the dedication of the Utah members. Thus began the thirty-second Christian Science branch church in the United States. The church building was restored in the 1970s and placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The building was sold by the members in 2002.

In 1909, increased participation at First Church, Salt Lake City led to the formation of a new congregation. Some of the members organized to erect a new building that became Second Church of Christ, Scientist, Salt Lake City at 566 East South Temple. G. H. Kent was the architect. This building, free of indebtedness, was dedicated on March 17, 1918. This church building was sold in the early 1960s and Second Church held its first services in a new church, which is their present location, at 1165 Foothill Drive in 1965.

The third Christian Science church in Salt Lake City was started in 1952 when twelve individuals organized a society to serve the southeastern part of the city and to relieve members of the long drive to the two other churches in the downtown area. Services were first held in a rented house at 2605 East 3300 South. This society was renamed First Church of Christ, Scientist, Millcreek in 1964. In 1974 it became known as Third Church of Christ, Scientist, Salt Lake City. Today Third Church, Salt Lake City is located at 1306 Spring Lane (5000 South) and its Reading Room is at 2309 S. Highland Drive.

First Church of Christ, Scientist, Ogden, was started in May 1895. Meetings were held in various locations until in 1899 members purchased the former Presbyterian meetinghouse at 24th Street and Lincoln Avenue. In 1907 that structure was sold and meetings were held in the local Congregational church and the Masonic temple. A new church building, located at the corner of Monroe Avenue and 24th Street, was built and dedicated on December 26, 1915. Today the church is located at 780 E 24th St. (Martin Luther King Dr.), Ogden.

First Church of Christ, Scientist, Provo, began in 1897 when four persons organized an informal society, which was recognized by The Mother Church in Boston in 1898, and was incorporated according to state law on November 29, 1902. Some members came from other parts of Utah County. For example, Medora Pierson traveled by train from American Fork to serve as First Reader in Provo. After meeting in temporary quarters, members built their own edifice at 105 East 100 North. The first services were held on July 18, 1926, and the new church was dedicated debt-free in 1933. Due in part to high maintenance costs, the Provo Christian Scientists sold their historic building at the end of the 20th century.

The St. George Christian Science Society, formed in 1979, serves as a religious "oasis" on Interstate 15 between the Salt Lake and Las Vegas churches. Its members currently meet for Sunday services at 11 a.m. at 373 S.100 E. This is also the address for their Reading Room.

In 1982, a group of Christian Scientists in Park City began meeting informally. They formed a Christian Science Society in 1984, meeting at various locations in Park City, until 2001 when in anticipation of the upcoming 2002 Winter Olympic Games the Society joined with the Salt Lake churches to open a Christian Science Reading Room in the Main Street Mall. The Society held church services at that location until 2006 when the Society became First Church of Christ, Scientist, Park City and purchased space at 605 Main Street for the Reading Room and church services.

In the past there have been temporary Christian Science meetings in several other communities, including Milford, Logan, Helper, Price, Green River, Richfield, Cedar City, Eureka, Garfield, and Tooele. Since some members were transient college students or railroad workers, those groups have ceased.

One of the major Christian Science contributions to Utah has been Christian Science Reading Rooms set up in convenient downtown locations and sometimes in church buildings. The public has been welcome to read, borrow, or purchase the Bible and various items of Christian Science literature, including the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, and other works of Mary Baker Eddy, and the international newspaper, The Christian Science Monitor. The Holy Bible and Science and Health are read at church services.

Each local Christian Science Church sponsors one or more annual public lectures given by a member of the Board of the Christian Science Lectureship in Boston. The first such lecture in Utah was given by Edward A. Kimball in the original Salt Lake Theatre in September 1898.

To interface in public settings, such as with the media and the state legislature, Christian Scientists are annually appointed to serve as the Committee on Publication. The current Committee on Publication for Utah is Elizabeth Beall of Park City: utah@compub.org. To obtain more information go to www.christianscience.com.