Chrystal’s Story: The Last Straw – Part 1

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This is part of an on-going series, for all posts in this series see the tag Chrystal’s Story.

A note from Chrystal: I was born a fourth-generation Christian Scientist, and finally left the religion when I was in my 40s. In this blog series, I will do my best to share with you my 40+ year journey. I have done my best to make the journey sequential, but it’s also themed to a large extent, and sometimes it has been necessary to take things out of sequence to share a theme. 

The Last Straw (Part 1)

Leaving my first branch church

A gal who had been raised in a Bible Belt kind of church had a toddler son. It was coming up on Easter Sunday, and she wanted an Easter Egg hunt for her son, because her neighbors were elderly and she didn’t have anyone else she knew who had kids, so she thought it would be fun for the kids at church. I know “The Manual of The Mother Church” by Mary Baker Eddy specifically states, “no special celebrations at Easter,” and I knew the members would hate the idea. I thought really fast, because I was proceeding from a place of “let’s let our member who converted to Christian Science feel loved and accepted,” and I said, “let’s call the daycare place next door, and see if we can use their playground for our Easter Egg Hunt on Easter Sunday!” This gal loved the idea. I wasn’t going to be in town, but I arranged for all of it to happen. Then, I gave the announcement to the First Reader.

The Sunday before Easter, I had just finished teaching Sunday School, and the Second Reader came storming down the stairs to me in Sunday School — she was angry. Whew! My students hadn’t all been picked up yet by their parents. This church member started to berate me and tell me off, with complete disregard to my students. She couldn’t believe that as Second Reader, she had to hear about this from the announcement! How dare I come up with having an Easter Egg Hunt at church!

I couldn’t get a word in edgewise for at least 7 minutes. She knew how to talk without breathing and I couldn’t interrupt her to say, “it wasn’t my idea! It was this other person’s idea, and I moved it over to the daycare so it wouldn’t be on church grounds!” I couldn’t believe how furious she was with me for this thing that I had tried to arrange so our own member could feel loved.

As this church member friend berated me in front of my Sunday School kids, I realized, “oh my gosh, she won’t let me speak to say ‘it’s not even my idea,’ and “it has come to this in the church: people think: ‘that idea is SO BAD, it MUST be Chrystal’s.’”

As it turned out, the parents had the Easter Egg hunt in our own parking lot (remember – I was out of town), and several moms griped to me about how terrible it was. I had arranged for the daycare playground next door, and they chose our own dirty parking lot with litter and gravel among the Easter Eggs. Way to celebrate Jesus Christ’s resurrection. (This church has a bus stop at the edge of the property, and I have seen cigarette butts in the parking lot too. It wouldn’t surprise me if there were also cigarette butts among the Easter Eggs!)

I remember lying awake in bed with that drama playing in my head over and over and over. It was the middle of the night, and I pictured the story of Daniel in the Lion’s Den. I got out of bed with my husband sleeping right there, and my boys sleeping in their rooms down the hall. I knelt down next to my bed and prayed. I had never knelt down on my knees, folded my hands and prayed. But I knelt down the way I thought Daniel might have done every day, and I prayed. I prayed as hard as I could pray. I cried and cried, and I prayed and prayed. I remember suddenly having a vision of “a new heaven and a new church,” (a clever variation on Revelation 21:1) and I knew everything would be ok.

I withdrew my name from membership 2 days later. (I had planned to withdraw 3 days later, but I got a phone call from another member berating me for something else, so I resigned immediately after that phone call. It had all gone on long enough.) Stupid me, I went to another branch church and joined them the following Sunday. (I told them “your branch is closer to my house, so I am just switching.” It was closer to my home, but that wasn’t completely why I was switching.)

Notes from Chrystal:

Here is a resource about emotional abuse. It is painful stuff. Please read this and get out of any relationship where you are being emotionally abused. I am still recovering from this painful experience.

Here is an informative article about anxiety and depression.

Notes from The Ex-Christian Scientist:

Unless you have formally withdrawn your membership, you are likely still counted as a member of the Mother Church, aka The First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Boston.

A quick e-mail to the Office of the Clerk, can confirm if you are still a member. If you are still a member, you can formally withdraw your membership via e-mail, or write a letter. You can reach the Church Clerk at: [email protected]

More information about withdrawing from The Mother Church can be found in our Resource Index drop down menu.

10 Replies to “Chrystal’s Story: The Last Straw – Part 1”

    1. It is my understanding some churches pay a small stipend to the regular First and Second Readers. I think TMC Readers are more substantially compensated, but someone more knowledgable on this will have to weigh in. In the case of local churches, the stipend is often donated back to the church.

  1. Oh, Chrystal, honey, no. Not an Easter egg hunt. Not a Christmas tree. Or a birthday. Not a wedding. Not a funeral. Certainly not a christening. I personally can’t keep track of the land mines, so I have to stay away. I’m glad you are, too.

    1. Yup. Exactly. 🙁
      Thank you for reading, Jane, and for commenting. It helps me know I’m not writing to a black hole. And that maybe someone finds my story useful.

      1. You are certainly not writing in a black hole! Just found this site and am so pleased to read comments from people who found their way out. For me it is a lifelong struggle.
        Thank you.

        1. Thank you so much, Claire!! It’s a lifelong struggle for me, too. I spent more than 40 years in the christian science belief system. I hope it doesn’t take me another 40+ years to get out of the mindset!

  2. If you only attended Sunday School, but never attended church as an adult member, are you still counted on the rolls of TMC?

    Thank you for sharing your stories. They are more helpful than I can say. I’ve been going through some intense feelings of “deprogramming” lately, though I haven’t attended service in a decade.

    1. Hi, Stephanie! Yes; I wrote to The Mother Ship (I mean: The Mother Church) and withdrew my name from the rolls. They asked me “why” and I wrote back but didn’t actually say “why.” And asked them to remove me. I didn’t hear back. I think it’s because they are short-staffed. I haven’t heard from them since. Others have told me they also have also withdrawn & gotten a letter stating they had withdrawn. For some reason, I didn’t get such a confirmation letter. C’est la vie.

    2. As far as I know you’re only a member of the Mother Church if you fill out an application and join. You don’t get added automatically.

    3. Stephanie- did you fill out a form when you were age 12 or older, to join The Mother Church in Boston? If you did, you would have started to get the annual letter asking for money.

      If you never got that letter, then they haven’t counted you since you left Sunday School. 🙂

      If you did join The Mother Church, then you would need to write a letter of withdrawal to them. I am guessing you didn’t ever join The Mother Church.

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