Church sends out global call 'to live for all mankind'
Through a satellite-linked global meeting over the weekend, The Church of Christ, Scientist, reaffirmed conviction in the power of prayer to change world conditions and pointed to the urgent need for individual lives dedicated to addressing and healing world problems.
''To live for all mankind,'' was the meeting's theme, as denominational officers spoke from Boston and a panel of editors and reporters from The Christian Science Monitor spoke from Britain, where they had assembled from posts in the United States and overseas.
The meeting - transmitted from the auditorium of the original 1894 building of The Mother Church, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston, to six satellites - was relayed to 150 audiences in meeting rooms and churches in 145 cities in the United States and 24 other countries.
Discussion focused on such issues as the nuclear arms race, third-world needs , divisiveness in society, materialism, and communist ideology, as well as on the importance of realistic individual action, limited neither by false optimism nor reckless pessimism.
Although the gathering was called and organized primarily for Christian Scientists, members of other denominations indicated support for the unprecedented meeting.
The worldwide telecast was on the air from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Boston time Dec. 8, reaching Honolulu when it was 9 a.m. Saturday, and South Africa when it was 9 p.m. Saturday evening, the two time-zone extremes among the program's live audiences.
In Kenya, Nigeria, Australia, and New Zealand, local television stations videotaped the telecast during live transmission for playback Sunday afternoon Dec. 9. Videoconferencing engineers said the world scale of the meeting was ''more than twice as large as anything they had ever before attempted.''
The meeting repeatedly emphasized the need for individual rededication to the deeply spiritual, Christian precepts on which the denomination was founded 105 years ago. Members of The Christian Science Board of Directors, Christian Science lecturers, and the managers of The Christian Science Publishing Society and of the Church's committees on publication spoke from the standpoints of their particular offices. Two Sunday School pupils also spoke. 'A meeting about lives'
Harvey W. Wood, a member of the board of directors, said the meeting reflected a sense of ''spiritual urgency to address the needs of our fellow man at the deepest possible levels.''
''It is a meeting about lives,'' he said. ''It's about humanity. It's about what Christ demands of us today. It's about big hearts learning how to be bigger. Indifference to our fellow man and his needs is a sure symptom of little hearts and little minds. Today we are called upon to face dangers. But they can be faced, and when they are, the promises for mankind are beyond imagination.''
In behalf of The Christian Science Monitor, editor Katherine W. Fanning said the times demanded extraordinarily perceptive journalism in order to alert mankind ''not just to troubles but to the triumphs to be found in the world.''
She and the Monitor group cited extensive Monitor attention for several years to Africa's mounting famine crisis and to the paper's recent series that documented not only the vast tragic plight of starving millions but also the possibilities for reform of society, government, and agriculture in the area, and also the need for long- term, intelligent planning to correct the conditions that led to the present situation.
Bonn correspondent Elizabeth Pond similarly emphasized that fatalistic attitudes surrounding the arms race needed to be vigorously challenged. She enumerated a set of attitudes, broadly held and sometimes unconsciously accepted , that would prevent individuals from addressing the problems of nuclear confrontation honestly and arriving at realistic solutions.
''The arguments are that the problem is too complex and too terrifying to be understood,'' she said, ''that mere man is subject not only to individual destruction but to total annihilation and that our entire world is fragile; that some inexplicable evil power is driving mankind to exploit and kill his fellow man; and that there may simply be a mindless power that locks into some kind of self-perpetuating mutual fear that we can't break out of.''
The Monitor's managing editor, Richard A. Nenneman, speaking from the Old Royal Observatory at Greenwich, England, where the Monitor panel gathered for its part in the teleconference, called attention to what he termed ''the saturation point of materialism.''
''It seems in much of the West that people have gotten so rich and life is so easy that they've lost a sense of what their freedom was all about in the first place.''
London correspondent David Winder underscored the point, noting that ''we have unlimited access to information, technology, and consumer goods, and yet, ironically, individual freedoms are constantly under assault. Our peace of mind is sabotaged by the bombardment of the air waves.''
A. W. Phinney Jr., editor of the church's religious periodicals, spoke of the necessity for society ''to hold its ground spiritually'' and to regain ''spiritual vision'' rather than surrendering to the pressures, at the opposite extreme, of aggressive materialism.
''Something very interesting is happening in the world in regard to materialism,'' Mr. Phinney observed. ''There is beginning to be a little bit of awakening about it. People are beginning to say 'Wait a minute. Where does this road go? Do we really want to be on it?' ''
''Instead of looking at the declining years of the 20th century,'' said H. Dickinson Rathbun, chairman of the board of directors, ''we are called upon to see potential for the beginning years of a whole new era for mankind.'' Search for peace
Board member Ruth Elizabeth Jenks called for stronger allegiance to ''the ethics of the Science of Christianity'' and for more sharing of ''spiritual healing as early Christians did.''
As the close of the century approaches,'' Mrs. Jenks said, ''there is going to be deep spiritual research, a searching of the hearts of man.''
Earl W. Foell, editor in chief of the Monitor, said the search for peace would profoundly test the willingness of the world to break ''the pattern in which peoples make war, frighten themselves into peace, and then are complacent and make war all over again.''
He described meaningful peace as ''the health of families, the health of economies, the health of nations, the health of mankind. Discord, whether it affects families or is between nations, is not the natural state of mankind. Peace is the natural state of the family of man.''
Mr. Nenneman recalled that Mary Baker Eddy, who founded the Church of Christ, Scientist, in 1879 and the Monitor in 1908, ''seemed particularly concerned over any political, economic, or even religious control over the individual that might keep him from experiencing life in its fullest spiritual freedom.'' Include sense of family
In fact, the panel noted, Mrs. Eddy's mandate to the Monitor was that its journalism ''injure no man, but bless all mankind.''
''No matter how comfortable each of us may be at home, or at that spot that is home to him,'' Nenneman said, ''the demands of authentic love should impel us all to enlarge our tents, to include that sense of family that knows no division of time or place.''
''The call 'to live for all mankind,' '' said board member Michael B. Thorneloe, ''calls for active witnesses, if the world is to realize peace as an attainable reality.''
''We can watch the world,'' said board member Hal Friesen, ''we can look at the mental attitudes around us, but we must make sure they're not overwhelming us, that we deal with them prayerfully, and do it before they get entrenched. . . . We can and must embrace the world in our thinking, in our love. And in that way we bring new thoughts which will change events. And that means healing.''
A team of church and United Nations interpreters provided simultaneous translations of the meeting from English into French, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Italian, Swedish, Danish, and Dutch. C. Brooks Whitfield of San Francisco directed the televising of the meeting; VideoStar Connections Inc. of Atlanta organized the worldwide satellite hookup; and public TV station WGBH in Boston supplied TV production equipment.