“Testimonies from the Field: The Coming of Christian Science to Australia, c. 1890–1910.”
Roe, Jill. “Testimonies from the Field: The Coming of Christian Science to Australia, c. 1890–1910.” Journal of Religious History 22, no. 3 (1998): 304–20.
Roe gives a “positive” (304) history of the coming of Christian Science to Australia from its introduction in 1890 to the death of Mary Baker Eddy in 1910 when there were 21 accredited practitioners and at least a thousand members. Besides tapping into church records, Roe’s data is based on about 40 testimonies found from this period in The Christian Science Journal and the Christian Science Sentinel. Almost all adherents came from the eastern capitals, with the first Christian Science church officially established in Brisbane, Queensland in December 1901. A year later a church was formed in Sydney, and others soon followed in Perth and Adelaide and Melbourne. By 1904, Sydney church had 42 members with a Sunday School averaging 45 students (313). Roe notes that the earliest testifiers found healing and revelation through reading the Christian Science literature and Eddy’s textbook, Science and Health, but that later healing came through accredited practitioners. She found that Christian Science mostly appealed to the “fragile and unprotected middle class… especially women, whose anxieties and ailments were seldom allayed by prevailing orthodoxies” (318). She observed the preponderance of women—women were the early organizers of the first church meetings, two thirds of the testimonies were by women (313), and between 1900-1910, two thirds of the practitioners were women (316).
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