At the Annual Meeting of The First Church of Christ, Scientist,
church officials discussed the relevance of Jesus' parable of the
Good Samaritan, detailed the church's financial status, and
announced plans to cut costs at The Christian Science Monitor, which
could include reducing the number of pages in the paper and the size
of the staff.
"The example of the Good Samaritan impels each of us to look
first at our own hearts and lives and then ponder the actions of our
branch churches ... and even The Mother Church; to ponder and pray
about how we are loving and responding to those along the way," said
Virginia Harris, Chairman of The Christian Science Board of
This report is based on transcripts of videotaped presentations
that were scheduled to be shown to church members gathered Monday
afternoon in the auditorium of the Extension of The Mother Church
here. Members outside Boston could watch the meeting over the
Internet from locations around the world.
Mrs. Harris opened the Directors' message by calling members'
attention to "the challenges and victories of stopping our own
routine and responding to the needs of humanity."
Church Treasurer Walter D. Jones called for increased giving to
respond to those needs. He revealed that the most frequent donation
to the church is $50. "It will take much more from all of us -
substantial donations, commitment, and love - in order to keep pace
with the demand for spirituality today."
Mr. Jones reported that after accounting for revenue from the
sale of products, net church spending was $113.2 million in the
fiscal year ending April 30. Spending outpaced the $83 million the
church received last year from member contributions and legacies. To
cover the $30 million shortfall, the church drew down its financial
reserves. Unrestricted reserves, the main source for funding daily
needs, were $46 million at the end of the fiscal year, down from $67
million a year ago and $95 million two years ago.
Expense reduction remains a priority for the church. The
organization will "continue to streamline activities, reduce costs
for infrastructure, and gain efficiencies in overall spending so
that more of the resources can support broader availability of
Science and Health and deeper engagement with its healing message,"
Jones said. A restructuring program, begun six months ago, has
reduced total employment at the church and Christian Science
Publishing Society (CSPS) in Boston by 150 from 760.
The Treasurer then turned his attention to the Monitor. "One of
the biggest challenges and opportunities facing us," Jones said, is
developing a new business model for the paper. He noted the
Monitor's "vital mission in the world today" but added "it has
required the largest subsidy from the church over many years in
order to sustain its operations."
Over the past 10 years, payments to the Publishing Society from
various church sources, including the Monitor Endowment Fund, have
totaled $172 million. In that decade total church spending amounted
to $1.37 billion.
In her report, Margaret Campbell, chairman of the Society's Board
of Trustees, noted that subscriptions to the Christian Science
Sentinel, Christian Science Journal, Christian Science Quarterly,
and the Monitor all fell slightly last year. She attributed part of
the decline to reduced spending on promotion and marketing. The
Monitor's print circulation now stands at 69,000. But 1.7 million
different people log onto csmonitor.com each month.
Largely as a result of Monitor shortfalls, the CSPS has been
subsidized by the church for the past 44 years. Campbell said that
governing documents written by the church's Founder, Mary Baker
Eddy, showed she "expected and required" the Society to be
profitable. "This 44-year practice of the Society requiring subsidy
from the church must now change. Not only have losses grown too
large to sustain, but budgeting for a deficit is not in accord with
either Mrs. …