A Distant Vineyard: Christian Science in Australia
Hutchinson, Norman C. A Distant Vineyard: Christian Science in Australia. Box Hill South, Victoria, Australia: Self, 2008.
Hutchinson, a Christian Scientist, assembles the history of Christian Science in Australia, marking the 100th year since its arrival around 1891. Reference to “a distant vineyard,” the title of the book, derives from a comment in the March 28, 1903 Christian Science Sentinel about the introduction of Christian Science in a remote location, so far from its headquarters in Boston. Hutchinson’s extensive research is taken from Church archives, newspapers, information from The Christian Science Journal, the Library of Australia, State Library of Victoria, the internet, and questionnaires sent to the churches. Organized by decades, the book details names, locations and back stories associated with over 80 churches throughout Australia. He notes several significant factors impacting the development of Christian Science in Australia. Three important functions of The Mother Church in 1898 “marked the real beginning of the Christian Science movement in Australia” (19): the establishment of the Publication Committee, the Board of Education and the Board of Lectureship. And WWII caused the Christian Science churches to make sacrifices, challenge traditions, and overcome difficulties. Regarding the noticeable decline in the 1980s, Hutchinson predicts that even if the churches would cease to exist, the “denomination would continue to be practiced by individuals and within small groups” (285).