EVERETT — Once a week, Helene McArthur volunteers in the reading room at First Church of Christ, Scientist.
The room is a quiet space with a few chairs and desks, and a computer for research. McArthur is happy to be there.
“It’s a wonderful program to be a part of,” she said. “The reading room is for people to come in and we answer their questions. We tell them what we know about Christian Science and that God is always with us.”
A volunteer for the past four years, McArthur has heard many questions from people who visit the reading room. One of the most common questions, she said, is ‘What is Christian Science?’
Volunteer church members Walt Thomas and his wife, Dorothy, have also heard the question repeatedly asked by those who visit the reading room.
“I would answer that Christian Science is a practical religion that tells you that you are a child of God,” Thomas said. “As soon as you start talking about that you have a dialogue and you see where that dialogue takes you.”
Christian Science is based on the theology of Mary Baker Eddy, who in 1897 founded the church organization. Those who practice Christian Science study the Bible along with “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” published in 1875 by Eddy. Members of the church believe God does not cause suffering and that illness can be cured through prayer.
The belief is not one of mind over matter or positive thinking, said William Scott, of the Christian Science Committee of Publication for Washington state.
“We do have an optimistic view of life, but it’s based theologically on the fact that God is good,” he said. “We don’t ignore problems or sickness, we view them as these are opportunities for healing. Christian Science is not blind faith or faith healing.”
Christian Science is a Bible-based faith but also a life-long study for those who choose to practice the religion, Thomas said.
“It’s not a Sunday religion, its a tough religion,” he said. “It’s one you have to study, and that’s why we’re all students.”
Reading rooms are a part of every Christian Science church and one place where anyone interested in studying or learning more about Christian Science can go. The reading room at First Church of Christ, Scientist at 1718 Broadway Ave. is open 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. Christian Science publications are available to read or purchase. Visitors can also read through bound copies dating back to 1883 of the weekly magazine, “The Christian Science Sentinel” and the monthly publication, “The Christian Science Journal.”
People can use the room to study weekly Bible lessons in preparation for services held at the church that are led by lay members. The hour-long services at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesdays begin with an introduction and then readings from the Bible. The last half hour is a time for people to comment about how the religion has helped them. A service is also held at 10 a.m. on Sundays.
“Christian Science is a lifetime study,” McArthur said. “Sometimes we get no visitors and sometimes we get two or three in the reading room but we are here and ready for whoever walks through that door.”
Amy Daybert: 425-339-3491, firstname.lastname@example.org.