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Merged Christian Science Congregations Call Themselves 'Blessed'

Members adjust after sale of historic First Church of Christ, Scientist, building and nursing facility on Overlook Road

Members of First Church of Christ, Scientist, decided in 2001 to sell their historic church building on Overlook Road due to declining membership and dwindling funds.

It was impractical to hold on to the impressive Parthenon-like structure, when the congregation lacked the funds for its upkeep. The historic church now is home to Nottingham-Spirk Design Associates, which has adapted the interior to suit its needs.

Similar circumstances led to the sale of Overlook Home, the Christian Science nursing facility across the street from the church.

“We were sorry to see the institution close,” said Becky Austin, office manager at “In a way, it’s not a bad thing, if people no longer require our services.”

Case Western Reserve University has used space at the Overlook Home to house students, and McGregor Nursing Homes now treat patients there.

“McGregor was able to step right in and use the facility like it was when we had left it,” Austin said. “That really pleased our congregation. We weren’t leaving behind empty buildings. Our move blessed us and blessed others.”

The congregation that used to meet on Overlook merged with its Cleveland Heights counterpart in 2004. Like all Christian Science churches, it is led by lay people.

Two lay leaders, called “readers,” are elected to conduct services in lieu of paid clerics. They read from the King James Version of the Bible and from Science and Health With Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the denomination in 1879. The services are based on Bible lessons from the Christian Science Quarterly.

Because of its name, Christian Science is sometimes confused with the Church of Scientology. The two are not related.

Christian Science is a Bible-based, Christ-centered religion with the virgin birth, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus central to its teachings.

“Our complete thrust is healing, of course,” Austin said, referring to Christian Science nursing homes. They offer “a supportive atmosphere that encourages healing through prayer. Our goal is healing and send the people back home.”

Although the local Christian Science nursing facility has closed, church members who need such services can go to another home in Columbus. The church also is working on a visiting nurse service for its members in Northeast Ohio.

The Christian Science Reading Room at 2252 Lee Road across from the is one of the local church’s mission activities. It’s a combination library and bookstore that offers a quiet study space and the use of its research materials.

“There’s a person on duty to answer questions if anyone comes off the street,” Austin said. “It’s how we make Christian Science available to anyone who has questions about it.”

The Reading Room is open 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays.

The local church hosts lectures twice a year, but not at the Reading Room, which isn’t large enough to accommodate the number of people who often attend.

Robin Hoagland, a teacher and practitioner of Christian Science from Boston, MA, is scheduled for the next lecture at the , 2345 Lee Road, at 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30.

For more information about Christian Science, visit the denomination’s website.

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