CSO stands for Christian Science Organization, and they can be found on college campuses all over the world. Mary Baker Eddy’s provision for CSOs can be found on page 73 of the Manual:
“Privilege of Members. Sect.8. Members in good standing with The Mother Church, who are members of the faculty, instructors, or students in any university or college, can form and conduct a Christian Science organization at such university or college, provided its rules so permit. Also members in good standing with The Mother Church, who are graduates of said university or college, may become members of the organization by application to, and by the unanimous vote of, the active members present, if the rules of the university or college so permit. When called for, a member of the Board of Lectureship may lecture for said university or college organization.”
CSOs started with a student named Wilfred Cole at Harvard University in 1904. Cole sent a letter to Mary Baker Eddy asking for a provision for an official Christian Science campus organization. He never received a response, so he let the idea go for the time being. A year later, he was compelled to write Mrs. Eddy again. This time Mrs. Eddy responded to his letter and requested that he draft a bylaw for the organization. He did so and sent it back to her. She simplified it, added it to the Manual, and that’s how CSOs were born.
Each CSO is a unique and independent entity, but they all unite under a common purpose: sharing Christian Science with their campuses. All CSOs host activities and events which support Christian Science on their campus. This could be through a lecture, participation in interfaith panels, tables in student centers, reading the Bible Lesson together, discussing Christian Science articles, or other creative ideas. There are no required activities or meetings and each CSO can choose how often they would like to meet and what they are interested in doing.
In her book, No and Yes, on page 11, Mary Baker Eddy, says: “If the Bible and Science and Health had the place in schools of learning that physiology occupies, they would revolutionize and reform the world, through the power of Christ.”
“To me, CSO is important because it is part of my foundation at school. It helps me refocus my week. I can’t tell you how many times I’m running around working on homework or preparing for exams or projects and feeling very stressed and burdened and sometimes the thought will come to me “I just don’t have time to go to CSO tonight.” And I’ll still go, and sometimes I’ll have the readings or somebody else will have the readings and it just refocuses my week and I’ll walk out of there with a totally different outlook on my week and what I need to do just feeling a much bigger sense of peace when materially, nothing has changed. But just feeling that sense of peace and refocus in my week and realizing that I don’t have to accept all those claims that the campus community will sometimes try to present. I also think CSO is a very important and really cool opportunity to spiritually uplift campus that we’re here not just to help ourselves and be uplifted ourselves but CSO’s purpose is also to bless the campus community and just by us having that uplifted thought and going out we can help to uplift the thought on campus and heal situations that come up there.”
“It’s in the Manual and so we’re serving Mrs. Eddy’s structure for the Christian Science movement by serving our CSO. It’s a way to serve Christian Science through the Manual’s provision.” - Robby Butler
Meet the two requirements Mrs. Eddy wrote for CSOs in the Manual:
Formed by a student or faculty member who is a Mother Church member.
Officially recognized by the university or college – this is dependent on the requirements of the college or university.
Check with your campus Chaplain or Student Activities office to find out their requirements for official recognition. Most campuses require:
Officers — President, Vice President, Treasurer, etc.
Faculty/Staff Advisor — If you don’t know a Christian Scientist, try other professors! CSOs have often found support in the religion and philosophy departments.
Constitution — View a sample CSO constitution.
Minimum number of members — There are plenty of active 1-person CSOs blessing their campuses. Reach out to the local churches and the CSO support team at TMC, we might know folks on your campus if your campus has a specific requirement!
Let the CSO Support Team know you are starting a CSO so we can help you through the process and connect you with others. CSOsupport@csps.com.
To be in the TMC directory as an established CSO you need:
At least one student or faculty member who wants to share Christian Science with their campus and is a member of The Mother Church
Regular activities hosted (meetings, interfaith panels, lectures, etc.)
Official university recognition
To be in the TMC directory as a forming CSO you need:
At least one student or faculty member who wants to share Christian Science with their campus and is interested in hosting meetings on campus
Working towards university recognition
Only those CSOs with university recognition will be listed in the Journal and Herald.
All CSOs should seek out formal recognition by their university. The requirement for university recognition comes from the Manual and serves to support CSOs. Recognized CSOs can seek resources (financial and logistical) from their university and are often given the opportunity to participate in campus-wide events.
We know this can take time. Therefore, CSOs hosting regular activities but which have yet to gain formal recognition, will be listed on our CSO directory as “forming” so that interested students can connect with those CSOs and support the good that is going on.
In Pulpit and Press Mrs. Eddy says, “‘What if the little rain should say, ‘So small a drop as I can ne'er refresh a drooping earth, I'll tarry in the sky.’ Is not a man metaphysically and mathematically number one, a unit, and therefore whole number, governed and protected by his divine Principle, God? You have simply to preserve a scientific, positive sense of unity with your divine source, and daily demonstrate this. Then you will find that one is as important a factor as duodecillions in being and doing right, and thus demonstrating deific Principle. A dewdrop reflects the sun. Each of Christ's little ones reflects the infinite One, and therefore is the seer's declaration true, that ‘one on God's side is a majority.’
You are never alone. You are one with God. That’s huge! God is leading you and is always with you. Trust this and be confident that the Christ is already paving the way for what you will be doing.
Your CSO work will be bless you and your community. CSOs provide a unifying and a healing presence on campus, built on the basis that we are united as children of God. CSOs provide an avenue for individuals to come together, learn about their relationship with God, and God’s healing presence in their lives. This is important work!
TMC supports all CSOs, both forming and established.
CSO Resource Guide (PDF)
Inspiration and ideas for running CSO meetings
Listing on the Christian Science on Campus directory
Logistical support when planning activities
Financial assistance for lectures and activities on campus. Please submit a financial assistance form if interested.
Marketing on our website as well as our CSO Facebook page, CSO Global.
Feel free to contact the CSO Support team at CSOsupport@csps.com or 800-288-7090 X 3700.
A CSO is considered inactive and will be taken out of the Journal/Herald if:
There are no longer Christian Science students attending the University
There has been no activity for longer than a year
The contact person for the CSO is unresponsive for over three months
God’s unchanging Love is our surrest support. When questions arise, turning to God in quiet prayer always produces wonderful results. Many students have testified that time spent in prayer, turning to the Bible and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, has provided just the inspiration and direction need to form and conduct a CSO.
TMC joyfully supports all CSOs. If you are interested in forming a CSO or are looking for some inspiration to support the activities your CSO is hosting, check out our inspiration and testimonial page, or contact us directly at CSOsupport@csps.com