“A New Order: Augusta Emma Simmons Stetson and the Origins of Christian Science in New York City, 1886–1910”
Cunningham, Sarah Gardner. “A New Order: Augusta Emma Simmons Stetson and the Origins of Christian Science in New York City, 1886–1910.” PhD Dissertation, Union Theological Seminary, 1994.
Cunningham’s specialty lies with 19th-century American religious history focusing on women, institutions, money and power—perfect preparation to research the fraught relationship of two charismatic women who rose from poverty to power and wealth: Augusta Stetson, a founding member and leader of the first Christian Science church in New York City, and Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the Christian Science movement. Cunningham delivers a well-documented biography of Stetson, whose impact on the organizational structure of The Mother Church is evident in Eddy’s lament: “Almost all of my rules in the Manual have been made to prevent her injuring my students and causing me trouble in my church” (83). To Stetson, Eddy’s Church Manual represented the incorporation and masculinization of the Church, replacing her own “old-fashioned, personality-based [feminine] leadership style” (10). Stetson’s chutzpah creates a sympathetic character. Yet in her tireless work leading her 800 students she often dominated them and encouraged their adulation. And her longing to please Eddy too often manifests itself in some scheming ambition to promote ‘her church.’ After Eddy’s years of working with Stetson, the Christian Science Board of Directors felt driven to excommunicate her, while recovering her often bitter students back into the fold.
Annotations related by category:
- Availability: Online - Academic Credentials or Fee
- Controversy: Church Manual
- Official Christian Science Publication: No
- People: Eddy, Mary Baker
- People: Stetson, Augusta
- Publication Date: 1981-2000
- Resource Types: Dissertations and Theses
- Subjects: Biographies and Chronologies
- Subjects: Church Manual, Governance, Leadership
- Subjects: Feminist Perspectives