Janiva’s Blog: What the BA Isn’t

We originally posted this blog series in 2012, and because it continues to address major misconceptions about the Benevolent Association, we are bringing it back.
And what an ideal time to be clear about the BA’s history! In a few months we begin a celebration of A Century of Christian Science Nursing and Healing. The announcement of the founding of the BA by the Christian Science Board of Directors appeared in the Christian Science Sentinel in October 1916. How fitting after 100 years to finally eliminate these persistent misconceptions about the BA and to present the inspired and healing record of this organization. In this latest blog post I’ll answer the first misconception: Was 910 Boylston the former residence of Mrs. Eddy when she lived in Brookline, Massachusetts?

Sometimes you can learn as much or more about an organization by
learning what it isn’t. For instance, the BA isn’t:

  1. Mary Baker Eddy’s former residence in Brookline, Massachusetts
  2. Owned, operated and endowed by The Mother Church
  3. Open only to church members for Christian Science nursing
  4. Only for New Englanders
  5. A 96-year-old anachronism

Most people who have not lived near the BA, and even some who have, think that our Original Building was once the home of Mary Baker Eddy. It’s understandable. Both the Benevolent Association and Mrs. Eddy’s home are located in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, but they are two completely separate properties. The BA is located within a few miles of Mrs. Eddy’s Chestnut Hill home and about four miles due west of The Mother Church. Here is a PDF of a Google map that shows both locations. Point “A” on the map is the BA and Point “B” is Mary Baker Eddy’s home at 400 Beacon St.

In 1908, Mrs. Eddy asked the Christian Science Board of Directors to vote on the adoption of a Church Manual By-law entitled “Christian Science Nurse” (Art. VIII, Sect. 31). In 1909, Mrs. Eddy corresponded with the Board of Directors about the need to found a facility that would provide care for those relying on Christian Science for healing. In 1916, the Directors announced, “Although temporarily delayed, this Board has not lost sight of its obligation to found this work for which the demand has so definitely and rapidly increased, but has only awaited the time which seemed right for carrying out the project” (Christian Science Sentinel, October 7, 1916).

They began construction of this facility on a piece of property donated by Mary Beecher Longyear of Brookline. Comprised of 24 acres of lovely woodlands, it was known as Single Tree Hill, and served as a well-known landmark for sailors in the 1600s. The property is also located near Chestnut Hill Reservoir which, with its park and roadways, formed one of Mrs. Eddy’s favorite drives. Construction was complete and the Benevolent Association was opened in 1919.

Click the following links to read the rest of the blog series that covers the other four misconceptions:

Part 2 – What the BA Isn’t

Part 3 – What the BA Isn’t

You’ll be hearing more about the BA’s 100 years beginning in January 2016, and you can also check out the history at http://www.chbenevolent.org/. Please stop by for a tour of the BA whenever you are in the Boston area.

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