Title: First Church of Christ, Scientist, Bismarck ND
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.
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
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
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.
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.
24 History File 1916-1962
25 History, Reading Room 1955
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
40 Sunday School References 1954-1967
42 Committee, Youth 1960-1973
43 Children's Exemption Cards 1991
612 East Boulevard Ave.
Bismarck, North Dakota 58505
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