Primary class instruction

What is Christian Science Primary class instruction?

Class Instruction is a 2-week course of study that teaches the student how to heal themselves and others. You study the questions and answers in the chapter Recapitulation in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. Supplemental course material includes citations from the Bible and the writings of Mary Baker Eddy.

Class instruction equips students to be effective Christian healers. Based on the method of spiritual healing Jesus taught his disciples, class instruction offers a unique and precious opportunity to dig further into your relationship with God and your spiritual capacity as a Christian healer for the world.

How do I get started?

If you are interested in Class or have questions, contact a Teacher. Classes are held every year in many countries around the world and generally include 12 sessions over a two-week period. After completing class, students become members of an association with others who have taken class from the same teacher. Each association meets annually to provide for students’ continuing spiritual growth and progress.

You may want to begin by reading what Mary Baker Eddy wrote about teaching and class instruction in the Church Manual (Articles XXVI and XXVII).

Contact any authorized teacher of Christian Science to find out more about class instruction and request an application. Questions about requirements, dates, location, and format, should be discussed directly with the teacher. Mary Baker Eddy instructed teachers to charge $100 for Class Instruction. However, students are welcome to give as much as they see fit.

As you begin your search for a Teacher,  rest assured that your sincere desire to grow spiritually through Primary class instruction comes straight from God. You can trust God, divine Love, to lead you to the right class and teacher for you.

More questions? Contact the Board of Education at BoE@christianscience.com or 617–450–3662. 

Find a Christian Science teacher

More ideas on Primary Class instruction

Adapted from a Q&A that Chris Orndorff assembled with some input from fellow students in his Christian Science association. 

My wife is not a Christian Scientist, and as I was preparing to take class instruction, I thought about the questions she asked me and the answers that I gave. In the spirit of helping someone who may be in a similar situation of explaining the class to someone unfamiliar with it, I thought that I would share these questions and answers for the benefit of anyone who is considering class instruction.

What is class instruction and why would someone attend?

Class instruction is “the elucidation of the Principle and rule of Christian Science through the higher meaning of the Scriptures” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 241). It is a more advanced course of study for earnest students of Christian Science. The class includes instruction by the teacher, class discussion, reading assignments, and prayer.

Someone may attend class instruction because they wish to be a full-time Journal-advertising Christian Science practitioner, for which class is a requirement. Others may attend because they want to advance their understanding of Christian Science. Either way, for many pupils class instruction is a significant event in their spiritual growth and advancement.

Why is the class 12 days long? Couldn’t it be accelerated?

Class instruction is an advanced course of study. It takes a significant amount of time to appropriately explore the concepts found in the chapter “Recapitulation” of Science and Health. Over the many decades that class instruction has been given, 12 days has seemed to be an appropriate amount of time. It is important to maintain the quality of the class instruction experience, and acceleration of the 12 sessions could diminish the quality of what the student gains from class instruction. This is probably why the approximate two-week time frame for class instruction became the standard in Mary Baker Eddy’s day.

If instruction is only about half of the day, then what do the students do for the rest of the day?

Class instruction is a rigorous course of study. Students typically have hours of reading, study, and prayer after class. It is by no means a “holiday.” Class instruction is often held in the morning for three to four hours. After a break for meals, most students spend the entire afternoon and evening reading, studying, and praying. This routine is a rich period of self-instruction from the books followed nearly every day for 12 days.

How do students select a teacher?

Each issue of The Christian Science Journal has a directory where you can find the names and locations of Christian Science teachers throughout the world. [Please see p. 18 of this Sentinel for information about online listings.] Some students may have had a healing with a teacher or practitioner, heard a teacher give an inspiring lecture, or they may have read an article written by the teacher. Or they may have talked with a friend about class. The prospective pupil often follows up with a conversation with the teacher. Often the teacher will send a questionnaire to the prospective pupil to aid in the assessment of the pupil’s current spiritual thought. Watchfulness and prayer will help illuminate your path to finding the right teacher for you.

Where are classes held?

Class instruction is generally held in a location chosen by the teacher. Class locations are distributed throughout the world. Students are free to select an authorized Christian Science teacher in any location; however, location need not be the primary reason for the selection of a teacher.

Is class open to anyone?

Class instruction is open to anyone who is genuinely interested. The Church Manual states, “Christian Scientists who are teachers shall carefully select for pupils such only as have good past records and promising proclivities toward Christian Science” (p. 83). The class is limited to a maximum of 30 people and one class per year, per teacher.

We’re in the Internet age now, so why isn’t class instruction webcast?

One benefit to in-person class instruction is the interaction between student/teacher and student/student. Students benefit from the spiritual understanding of their fellow pupils during class discussion. In addition, many students enjoy fellowship with their classmates.

At the current level of technology, it is difficult to fully attain these benefits through “virtual” class instruction. Therefore, class instruction remains in a traditional, face-to-face format.

Why is there secrecy surrounding class instruction?

Class instruction is a holy, individual experience with God. It is therefore confidential. The student is welcome to tell family, close friends, and employers that they are attending class instruction, but it is not something a student generally broadcasts. “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly” (Matt. 6:6).

Why isn’t the information contained in class instruction presented every week in an adult Sunday School, like some other Protestant denominations?

In The First Church of Christ, Scientist, provision is made for Sunday School for students up to the age of 20. The Manual provides a different syllabus for Sunday School classes. Since the Pastor of our church is the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, there are no Sunday School teachers for adults. For adults, much of the material in class instruction is presented over a long period of time in the weekly Christian Science Bible Lessons.

How much does class instruction cost?

The tuition for class instruction is specified in the Manual at $100. The student is also responsible for any additional fees, transportation, lodging, and meal expenses while attending the class.

What is an association?

The collective group of students that a single teacher has taught. Associations meet annually. Students should commit to attend the annual meetings. In addition to spiritual renewal and encouragement, association meetings are also a great time to engage in fellowship with other Christian Scientists.

Many Christian Science teachers will tell you that one of the main reasons they conduct classes on Christian Science is to pass along what they’ve received both from study of the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures and from the daily practice of the truths in those books. The benefits of Primary class instruction have been so life-changing and transforming for me that I naturally want to forward on to others the majesty, goodness, and practicality of the Science of Christianity.

It was Mary Baker Eddy, the woman who instituted Christian Science teaching, who founded the Christian Science Board of Education and provided its teachers with the materials that are covered in class instruction. She included in Science and Health, in fact, the essence of her very own class book—the book from which she herself taught class instruction. This became the foundation for the “Recapitulation” chapter in Science and Health. Christian Science class instruction follows this outline and the questions and answers covered in this chapter.

I love how in each class session pupils gain new perspectives and discover more of the universal truth that heals and regenerates. Class prepares a pupil to heal, not only himself or herself, but his or her fellow man; importantly, it prepares the pupil thoroughly for the public practice of Christian Science.

I especially love how class instruction helps one to understand the importance of and how to pray for oneself daily. Students are taught about the workings of mental malpractice and how to be alert to detect it and know it to be powerless. Class helps pupils make the lessons their own, and instills confidence that they can give an effective Christian Science treatment immediately.

Class instruction caused me to want to study more, and also to love and live Christian Science much more deeply. It helped me recognize that radical reliance on God brings great confidence, causing all types of uncertainty to evaporate. And it engendered in me a deeper love of the Manual of The Mother Church.

When talking about God, Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life” (John 10:27, 28). I appreciate how, together, both teacher and pupil listen to and follow God’s leading, and discover how Love’s wonderful kingdom of heaven is within each of us.

Mary Baker Eddy says, “The entire purpose of true education is to make one not only know the truth but live it . . . ” (The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p. 252). Christian Science class instruction gives pupils this education in detail, and then it’s their privilege to bring into their daily life what they’ve discovered. Class brings about a transformation of human consciousness and a resurrection of the Christ in one’s heart.

Just as it is natural for teachers to love to provide class instruction, it is a normal element of progress for a pupil to take steps toward asking for it. The Comforter that Jesus promised has come again and is outlined in detail in the Bible and Science and Health (see John 14:16 and Science and Health, p. 55, line 27). A pupil’s impulse to attend class is a result of his or her response to this earth-changing return of the Comforter. A growing love for God and mankind, coupled with a steady, gently increasing spirituality, prompts the desire to follow Jesus’ healing example. Class instruction in Christian Science is the ideal setting in which to fulfill that desire tangibly and practically.

—Mark Swinney, Albuquerque, New Mexico, US