Brown Bag Lunch: Congregationalism and Christian Science

Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Speaker: Amy Voorhees

Practice, Polity, Profession

If you have ever wanted to know more about either of these churches and their sometimes surprising historical connections, this talk is for you!

The founder of the Christian Science church, Mary Baker Eddy, was a Congregational church member for almost forty years, from 1838 to 1875. She spent half of her adult life as a Congregationalist. She even stayed a member for a decade after the event she came to call her "discovery" of Christian Science in 1866. She was a member the entire time she wrote the first edition of her book Science and Health, which she claimed explained the principles behind Jesus's healings.

Eddy founded her own church in 1879. Her Church of Christ, Scientist, inherited many legacies from the Congregational church that show up in surprising ways. This talk focuses on those. After sketching Eddy's biography and historiography, including the many cultural trends with which she interacted, Dr. Voorhees will discuss precedents, parallels, and problems that have surfaced in her comparison of Christian Science and Congregational organization, rule-making, rhetoric, and assumptions about faith and life.

Dr. Voorhees holds a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she specialized in American religious history. She holds the 2013-2014 ACA-Athenaeum Fellowship for joint study in both collections. Her research supports a book she is writing on Eddy and authorship at the intersection of American religious history, print culture, and women's history. Her most recent peer-reviewed articles appear in the journal Church History and in the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, from which she received the 2012 Elizabeth Schüssler Fiorenza New Scholar Award. She has received several fellowships and served as a manuscript referee for the Harvard Theological Review. She is currently on the graduate faculty of the White Mountains Institute at Plymouth State University.

Wednesday, July 24th
12:00 - 1:00 pm

Program begins promptly at noon.

Free.
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