April 22, 2014
After greetings by Doug Patti, David Shawaker read from the Bible, Science and Health, and Miscellaneous Writings. In particular, the quote, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways, acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths,” (Proverbs 3: 5,6) was particularly helpful as members discussed the topic, “The Reading Room Today … and Tomorrow.”
David Juell was asked to kick off the discussion. He said our Reading Room meets the criteria in the Manual, is in good physical condition, although the A/C will need to be replaced soon, and he likes the current location. He also stated that the Reading Room is not a financial burden.
Doug explained that the focus of this meeting would be on the Reading Room in its current location, and our outreach to the community. It is recognized that the drop-off in member attendance will not be reversed because of the accessibility from home of the full resources of the Reading Room so our purpose now is outreach.
The thrust of the discussion fell into two main categories: what the message of the Reading Room should be, and specific ideas for its outreach.
From a marketing standpoint, one member shared that the message needs to be clear, simple, and straightforward. Some members feel that “healing” should be the primary message because of public interest in healthcare, and the belief that most people are interested in this topic, and would be helped by it. Others felt that “Science and Health” and its teachings should be the primary message, and that the original purpose of the Reading Room was, and is, to get our Pastor out into the community, and then healing will follow. Another member suggested that “prayer” might be that message, and that all should feel welcome to come in and pray about individual or world issues. No decision about a primary message was determined, and no ranking done. In actuality, all are part of the message we want to communicate.
Suggestions for our outreach include having Wednesday services held in the Reading Room (a more visible location); hosting metaphysical talks on selected subjects and Bible study groups; and increasing the hours the Reading Room is open to better meet busy work schedules. It was widely felt that the front window display is our most valuable messenger and that through the better use of graphics and technology, including programmable messages and scrolling video presentations on computer screens; and signage that explains what Christian Science is (perhaps, using a particular announcement read at Sunday services), and how to access more digital information about Christian Science, that more attention will be drawn to the window, with the hopeful result of people stopping inside. The Monitor is also an important messenger showing our worldwide outreach, and we should continue having a copy open to significant articles.
Some other ideas shared are these … When thinking about our outreach, a member brought up the importance of not seeing a bunch of needy people out there who we hope are smart enough to come inside, and that this is not a club (neither our church or Reading Room) that only those who have reached a certain spiritual level would be interested in. One member suggested we have an “Open House” for members and attendees since many have not visited the Reading Room in quite some time. Another lovely idea was to have copies of the Lesson-Sermon available to hand out to visitors.
At the very end of the meeting, one member stated that as the Reading Room now exists, it is not the right format for the younger generation. Our topic addresses the Reading Room today AND TOMORROW. This thought-provoking comment was introduced, but not followed up on, because we had reached the end of the meeting, but members probably left asking themselves these questions … Did tonight’s discussion deal more with tinkering with the current format that we have always known, rather than tackling the tougher issues of how to make it relevant for tomorrow? Is there something more that we’re supposed to be seeing? Did we go far enough in our discussion to answer those questions, or is that for another day?
This discussion will continue at the Semi-Annual Busines Meeting on June 19. The quote above will be helpful as we move forward, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding . . .”
Gale Bentley, Clerk