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Report of Meeting on Tuesday September 10th 2019

On this occasion Philippa Chatterley gave us an intimate account of ‘How Christian Science has shaped my life’, drawing on many years’ experience since the time of her mother’s discovery of Christian Science when grieving for her own mother. Philippa went to a Christian Science Sunday school, learning the Lord’ Prayer, the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes and understanding God as Father/Mother.

Christian Science, she told us, is based on the Bible and the laws of God. Its founder, Mary Baker Eddy (1821-1910) established the movement in Boston, USA, aiming to restore the element of healing which had been part of primitive Christianity and was subsequently almost lost from the life of the Church. She published her seminal book Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures in 1875 after a remarkable recovery from serious illness which came from reading the Gospels, and the first Church of Christ, Scientist began in Boston in 1879.
Philippa left school in Solihull and took secretarial training, followed by a series of jobs, including time in Cape Town, South Africa and the Scottish Highlands. She loved the outdoor life and worked with horses and at a racing stables with great delight, but went to work in the family business in the Birmingham Jewellery Quarter which eventually closed. She married an Irishman, but the marriage failed and divorce led her back to Christian Science, which had not been an active part of her life for many years. She was encouraged to find that Mary Baker Eddy had also been divorced and yet had gone on to achieve much, and that Christian Science could help her deal with the feelings of guilt and fear, and the ‘What if...’ spectres of possible disaster which she suffered from. God is a God of love who gives his protection and promises a future of good things (Jeremiah 29.11). After starting a silver repair business, taking an art course and beginning to sell her own pictures, she trained and was registered in 2005 as a Christian Science Practitioner. Practitioners are healers who provide specific prayer for individuals who ask for their help with personal difficulties and physical problems. They point people to the uplifting and healing ideas in the Bible and the writings of Mary Baker Eddy. Philippa is also a registered Christian Science Chaplain at Long Lartin Prison in Worcestershire.

Philippa’s rich experience was complemented by Gill Hattley’s contributions in responding to questions. These ranged from the kind of worship Christian Scientists engaged in, to relationships with the medical profession (no problems there), to why Christian Science was not part of pan-church groups like the World Council of Churches or the local Churches Together in Stratford (and elsewhere). This was in part put down to the hostility to Mary Baker Eddy as a female church leader who brought out new ways to interpret Christianity.

Philippa convincingly showed us how Christian Science had given shape and purpose to her life.

Christopher Lamb

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