Augusta E. Stetson
A Biographical Sketch
AS we enter the era of the Millennium of Biblical prophecy, it is timely to examine the role of Augusta E. Stetson, C.S.D., in Mary Baker Eddy's plan for establishing the Church of Christ, Scientist, as the Church Universal and Triumphant (Church Manual, p. 19) or the spiritually organized church, at the latter end of the first decade of the Twentieth Century.
This story is far more obscure, and has generally been distorted or misunderstood by biographers and historians in their attempts to relate the story of the Christian Science Movement.
This essential chapter must be included if an accurate and universally helpful account is to emerge that will meet the needs of mankind in this hour of Millennial anticipation and spiritual awakening.
Augusta E. Stetson was summoned by Mary Baker Eddy in 1884 to enter one of Mrs. Eddy's classes in Christian Science. This was followed by Normal Class instruction in 1885, and later on by a review class.
In 1886 Mrs. Eddy sent Mrs. Stetson to New York City to establish the "Christianity of Christian Science." Mrs. Eddy conferred upon her the degree of C.S.D., and she was one of three women to whom Mrs. Eddy gave the title of Reverend. Mrs. Stetson's success in New York City is well known, but there are many aspects of her experience there that are either obscured or distorted, which, at this hour are timely for clarification and illumination.
Mrs. Stetson and her students built the beautiful First Church of Christ, Scientist, New York City, paid for on dedication after its completion in 1903, at a cost of $1,250,000; and, after occupying her pulpit for seventeen years, Mrs. Stetson was prepared for the events that were destined to follow. Mrs. Eddy invited Augusta in 1907 to "'Come out from the world and be ye separate'--in the sense of Science." This was followed by Mrs. Eddy's invitation in January 1909 to her "dear brethren in New York" to build "on a wholly spiritual foundation, than which there is no other." (Miscellany, p. 357.)
These invitations were followed by replies, assuring Mrs. Eddy of the willingness of Mrs. Stetson and the New York Church to begin to build on a wholly spiritual foundation. These events, and many others, led to the "composite letter" to Mrs. Stetson from her students, in July 1909, assuring their teacher of their loyalty and willingness to begin to thus build.
The foregoing events culminated in the so-called "trial" of Mrs. Stetson by the Christian Science Board of Directors in November 1909, and the dismissal of Mrs. Stetson from the roll of membership of The Mother Church following their withdrawal of her license to teach and practice Christian Science.
Thus the way was prepared for the launching, building and establishing of the wholly spiritually organized church. Mrs. Stetson's publications tell extensively of these events. Also available is the record of over four hundred letters from Mrs. Eddy to Augusta during twenty-five years, which are the eloquent, and hitherto almost hidden testimony of Mrs. Eddy's love for Mrs. Stetson, her "best beloved" student. Mrs. Eddy placed on Augusta Stetson the most solemn responsibility of demonstrating the true idea of Church. Thus Augusta E. Stetson became the chosen demonstrator of the divine Science of which Mary Baker Eddy was Discoverer and Founder, and is the forever Leader.
Following her removal from the material organization, Mrs. Stetson said in 1911:
"I was ready to build on a wholly spiritual consciousness. Mrs. Eddy knew that all who had risen to spiritual apprehension would understand . . . Never again will there be danger that Christian Science will be lost to humanity as it was aforetime."
"Love is the golden chain that binds us to the Infinite."
Augusta E. Stetson
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