The healing power of prayer is a fundamental belief of the Church of Christ, Scientist, founded by Mary Baker Eddy in 1879. While the church does not release membership information, it has grown to include 2,000 churches in 80 countries.
Eddy was ill much of her life and eventually turned to prayer, which she believed was the type of healing Jesus performed in the Bible. After years of study and teaching others her way of recovery, she revealed her findings to the larger public. She wrote and published “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” in 1875. In the Christian Scientist church, “Science and Health” is read alongside the Bible as a way to interpret and fully understand the Scriptures. The denomination’s international headquarters, called the “Mother Church,” is in Boston. Branch churches are named in the order in which they were established in a community.
Christian Scientists believe that sin and sickness are caused by not fully believing in God, who is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. Humans are made in the reflection of God, who is without sin. Therefore, once humans understand they are powerless to God’s will and believe completely in him, sin, sickness and evil will cease to exist. This is done through deep prayer and reflection.
At Sunday services, a member reads a passage from the Bible and a correlating selection from “Science and Health.” The sermon is identical at every branch church, pre-published in a guide that is available at Christian Science Reading Rooms. Reading Rooms make available materials needed to study and develop one’s knowledge of their religion. During Wednesday night services, a member of the church delivers the readings and presents his or her knowledge about the passage to the community. After this, members are allowed to recount their experiences of healing through prayer and testimonies of their life in faith. In Columbia, the First Church of Christ, Scientist is at 800 West Broadway. Services are at 10:30 a.m. Sundays and 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays.