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Manuscripts by Subject - Religion - #10766

Title: First Church of Christ, Scientist, Bismarck ND

Dates: 1913-1992

Collection Number: Mss 10766

Quantity: 2 feet

Abstract: The records include a board of directors report, correspondence, rental leases, pamphlets, and newspaper clippings.

Provenance: The State Historical Society of North Dakota acquired the records of the First Church of Christ, Scientist in Bismarck from Robert Schlobohm in June 1999. The Agency Sketch was written by Janet Beltran in 1999.

Property Rights: The State Historical Society of North Dakota owns the property rights to this collection.

Copyrights: Copyrights to this collection remain with the donor, publisher, author, or author's heirs.  Researchers should consult the 1976 Copyright Act, Public Law 94-553, Title 17, U.S. Code or an archivist at this repository if clarification of copyright requirements is needed.

Access:
This collection is open under the rules and regulations of the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Citation: Researchers are requested to cite the collection title, collection number, and the State Historical Society of North Dakota in all footnote and bibliographic references.

Transfer:

Agency Sketch

A small group of Bismarckians who followed the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy began to meet informally in each others’ homes in 1886, only seven years after Mrs. Eddy had founded the Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1879. When Mrs. Rose Webster, a practitioner, moved to Bismarck from Minneapolis in 1912, she was authorized to establish a branch society. Eighteen people were charter members. Until 1916, Bismarck Christian Scientists met in several different rented quarters until they were able to buy a lot and build a church on the corner of Fourth Street and Avenue C. They remained in that location until recently when the local church disbanded and put the building and lot up for sale.

The original Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, known as Mother Church, established rules and regulations that each new branch was required to follow. A branch was admitted to the status of “church” only when it had a minimum number of members; therefore, until 1924 the Bismarck group was a Christian Science Society.

The Mother Church operated under a conservative fiscal policy. A building could be dedicated only after the mortgage was fully paid and was debt free. The Bismarck group erected two buildings on the Fourth Avenue site. The first one was dedicated in either 1917 or 1918, and its successor was dedicated in 1962. Paying off each of the two mortgages was aided through applications to the trustees of Mrs. Eddy’s estate for grants when the mortgage was almost paid.

Members’ contributions to the church were voluntary. In 1957, for example, they received a letter requesting that each member contribute a minimum of $10 monthly to meet the $450 monthly operating costs in Bismarck.

Weekly services, on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings, followed the plan sent from the Mother Church. These were based on the only sources accepted by Christian Scientists: the Bible and Mary Baker Eddy’s book, Science and Health. There were no individual sermons and no clergy. The First Reader and Second Reader, lay persons, conducted the services by reading the plan that all Christian Science churches throughout the world used on that day.

An important element of the church was the Reading Room. It contained copies of the source books, the newspaper Christian Science Monitor, and the pamphlets and newsletters produced in Boston and was open to the public. Although it had books and pamphlets for sale, it was not primarily a bookstore. Its main purpose was to provide a quiet place to read and reflect on the materials. A volunteer attendant was available to answer questions.

Even administration of the Reading Room was guided by the Mother Church. For example, taking notes or copying materials from books was discouraged because the person might change the original interpretation while notetaking. Also, materials were not sold on Sunday, the Sabbath.

Although the Bismarck Christian Science Society was comprised of a relatively small group of people, it tried to increase its visibility in the community by displaying print materials in places in addition to the Reading Room. According to the 1914 minutes of the Board of Directors meeting, a set of basic books was purchased to be placed in the State Library on the Capitol Grounds while other Christian Science literature could be found in the railroad depot, Franklin House, and the Palace Hotel. A subscription to the Christian Science Monitor was renewed for the Penitentiary.

Chronology of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, Bismarck

1888       met in private homes
1912       authorized by the Mother Church to establish a society when Mrs. Rose Webster, a practitioner, moved from Minneapolis. Eighteen charter members.
1913       Thanksgiving Day, first service
1915       bought the lot at Avenue C and 4th Street to build a small bungalow-type church. Mortgage dates 10/4/1915
1916       Bismarck Reading Room opened. Prior to this, materials were distributed door-to-door by members.
1916       incorporated in North Dakota
1917 or 1918 building debt free and dedication service held
1924       The Mother Church accepted the Bismarck Christian Science Society as a church because the application showed that it had the required number of members
1953       present building begun at Avenue C and 4th Street
1962       new building debt free and dedicated
1999       recently disbanded; building and lot for sale

Source: First Church of Christ Scientist, Bismarck, North Dakota collection.
                                                                                                                                               
Box / Folder Inventory

BY-LAWS AND RULES

Box 1:
1 Committee, By-Laws   1958-1965           
2 Standing Rules               1987-1992           
3 By-Laws, Current          1991      

MINUTES AND BOARD OF DIRECTOR'S REPORTS
4 Minutes and Board of Director Report                1914      
5 Minutes and Board of Director Report                1941-1946           
6 Minutes and Board of Director Report                1950-1955           
7 Minutes            1955-1961           
8 Director’s Board of       1955-1961           
9 Minute Book  1962-1968           
10 Minutes, All Meetings              1963-1966           
11 Minutes, Meetings    1964-1985           
12 Minutes, Board/Member       1985-1988           
13 Officers List   1962-1964           

FINANCIAL AND LEGAL REPORTS
14 Treasurer's Report     1914-1916           
15 Treasurer's Report     1920-1926           
16 Treasurer's Report     1941-1946           
17 Treasurer's Report     1947-1949           
18 Treasurer's Report     1950-1953           
19 Treasurer's Report     1954-1956           
20 Treasurer's Report     1957-1959           
21 Treasurer's Report     1960-1963           
22 Treasurer's Report     1965-1989           
23 Financial Record, Grant Proposal         1987-1989           
24 Legal information, Tax, Soc Sec, Workers,       1949-1994           
25 Memorial Fund           1958      

MEMBERSHIP ROLL
26 Enrollment Book         1913      
27 Applications                  1914-1951           
28 Withdrawal   1920-1997     
      

Box 2:
1 Current Applications   1950-1984           
2 Questions        1955      
3 Quarterly Meetings     1963      
4 Application Old Church               1991      
5 Application Mother Church      1991-1995           
6 List      n.d.
7 Form Letters   n.d.

CORRESPONDENCE
8 Donations        1946-1994           
9 Other CS Churches       1949-1992           
10 Members      1951-1961           
11 Lectures         1951-1989           
12 Directors, Mother Church       1951-1991           
13 Church Building           1953      
14 Branches/Practitioners            1958
15 Deaths of Members  1959-1961           
16 Publishing Society      1965-1992           
17 Lecture           1988      
18 Legal, General             1989-1994           
19 C.B.  1991      
20 Mother Church           1991      
21 Piper                1991-1993           
22 Thank You for Donation           1994      
23 Members      n.d.

HISTORY
24 History File    1916-1962           
25 History, Reading Room            1955

BUILDING INFORMATION
26 Architects Cook/Whitney, Building     1952      
27 Committee, Building 1953      
28 Building, Insulation Project    1986      
29 Building Renovation  1991-1992           
30 Street Repair                1994      

PROGRAMS AND OUTREACH
31 Committee, Publications on Finance  1960-1992           
32 World Fair, NY              1964-1965           
33 Committee, Publications         1965-1995           
34 Publications  1987      
35 Newspaper clippings                1991-1992           
36 Lecture, TV   1992      
37 Hymnals for South Africa, Moscow     1992-1993           
38 Advertisement, Yellow Page                 1996      
39 Newspaper clippings, Herald 1997      

YOUTH PROGRAMS
40 Sunday School References     1954-1967           
42 Committee, Youth     1960-1973           
43 Children's Exemption Cards   1991      

 

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