CHRISTIAN SCIENTISTS were first organized in Cleveland by General Erastus N. Bates in 1877. Bates secured 2 rooms in a downtown building and formed a ministry based on the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy, founder of the Christian Science church in Boston (1866). Christian Science interprets the Scriptures as maintaining that disease, sin, death, etc., are caused by mental error and have no real existence. The First Church of Christ, Scientist, received its charter from the state in 1891; it was modeled after the mother church, the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston. Services were held at several locations before adequate quarters were found in the Pythian Temple. Services continued there until 1901, when the church moved into its own building at Cedar and Kennard streets. Abiding by the rule that Christian Science churches must be free of indebtedness, the new church was not dedicated until 1904. In 1917 the congregation moved to a theater, where services were held for a year before the purchase of the Euclid Ave. Methodist Church building at Euclid Ave. and E. 93rd St. In 1931 a new $1 million building was completed on Overlook Rd. near UNIV. CIRCLE. In 1901 a group from First Church formed the Second Church of Christ, Scientist, and held its first service in a small white church at Euclid Ave. and E. 77th St. The Third Church of Christ, Scientist, was formed in 1903. The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in LAKEWOOD began in a business block at Detroit and Belle avenues in 1910 and completed its own building in 1922. The Fourth Church of Christ, Scientist, was founded in 1914, holding its first services in the Woodward Masonic Temple before moving into its own building in 1920. The Fifth Church held its first public services in a hall at W. 65th and Detroit Ave. in 1915, and later moved to Lake Ave. and W. 117th St. With members from the Third and Fifth churches, the Sixth Church was formed in 1922. A group from the First Church (Cleveland) organized the First Church of Christ, Scientist, in CLEVELAND HTS. in 1924. Services were held in the Hts. Masonic Temple until the new church at Lee Rd. and Fairmount Blvd. was completed (1939). This church represents a beautiful local example of early American design. The Seventh Church, in Cleveland, was organized in 1929. By 1933 more than 10,000 Christian Scientists worshipped in the Cleveland area.
Services in Christian Science churches are unique: there is no personal preaching. Two readers are elected to 3-year terms; the second reader reads Scripture passages, while the first reads a spiritual interpretation of these passages from Eddy's book Science and Health, with Key to the Scriptures. Testimonies are given at Wednesday evening meetings. In addition, lectures are given from time to time by members of the Christian Science Board of Lectureship. In 1940 the Cleveland-area churches formed the Christian Science War Relief Committee of Greater Cleveland, divided into 6 units. Volunteers made garments for civilian victims of World War II in Europe. In 1952 the General Christian Science Reading Room was opened downtown; it has been jointly maintained by all Cuyahoga County Christian Science churches. In addition, each church supports its own reading room, usually in the neighborhood of the church. These are open to the public and offer, in addition to the Bible, the works of Mary Baker Eddy, the Christian Science Monitor newspaper, religious reference books, and organizational periodicals. In 1986 there were 14 Christian Science reading rooms in the Cleveland area. In the mid-1990s there were still 11 Christian Science churches in Greater Cleveland, including First and Eighth in Cleveland and churches in BEREA, CHAGRIN FALLS, Cleveland Hts., BRECKSVILLE, EUCLID, Lakewood, LYNDHURST, PARMA HTS., and ROCKY RIVER. In addition, the churches jointly operated the Christian Science Visiting Nurse Service and the Christian Science Sanatorium-Overlook House, on Overlook Rd.
See also RELIGION.