What is new about this Fellowship in St. Louis?
We are sister ministries working together.
The Next Generation Fellowship (NGF) and the Brentwood Christian Science Church (BCSC) are sister ministries, dedicated to Christ. United by a common Covenant, they share some aspects of single church government and personnel. And while distinct in focus and emphasis, they are intended to be complementary ministries that support each other and often work together in joint activities.
Membership in NGF and BCSC overlaps. One can be a Covenant Partner and part of NGF without also being a member of the BCSC. The reverse, however, is not true, as all members of the BCSC are also Covenant Partners and part of NGF by virtue of signing the Covenant.
For simplicity’s sake, both ministries are often referred to simply as “The Fellowship.” The BCSC is naturally denominational in focus, working at those activities which are distinctly denominational and which emphasize the theology of Christian Science. NGF is intended as a nondenominational Christian organization with less of a denominational focus, including Christians and non-Christians who may, but do not necessarily have an interest in Christian Science.
Sunday morning activities provide a snapshot of how these two sister ministries have distinct emphasis. The BCSC, for instance, provides Sunday School and church services that follow the guidance of the Manual of the Mother Church. These activities are distinctly denominational.
The Sunday morning Gathering sponsored by NGF each week is generally a non-denominational worship opportunity which speaks in broad Christian themes and language. It generally does not have a theme that is overly denominational in tone or in content.
Not all activities of our two sister ministries can be so easily parceled out to one organization or the other. Christian Community Service, for instance, is compatible and part of both ministries. Various small groups also defy easy categorization. The hope is that these two sister ministries allow our Fellowship to include a potentially wider group of people than either might do alone, and to speak to today’s humanity in ways that embody our continual effort to live out what we say so often—that wherever someone may be in their spiritual journey, at The Fellowship, they are accepted, respected and loved.
Why do you have led prayers at the Contemporary Worship?
Our use of “led” prayer is to draw the affections of the congregation together in a greater awareness of God in the midst of our lives and to make a familiar bridge for newcomers accustomed to spoken prayer.
In Adam Dickey: Secretary to Mary Baker Eddy (2005), author Nancy Niblack Baxter writes that that during the time she was at Chestnut Hill Mrs. Eddy instituted “a practice not common in the Christian Science church. She asked the group [of her household] gathered around her for devotions to offer audible prayers.”(55) Baxter publishes a sample of one of Dickey’s own prayers that she cites as part of the Dickey collection at the Mary Baker Eddy Library. It is not a treatment but a prayer. The Mary Baker Eddy Library also has a 1910 letter from another household worker to a former worker that describes these Sunday morning “services” where Mrs. Eddy had attendees rotate in offering audible prayer.
Why do you feature contemporary Christian music at the Contemporary Worship?
Our music is meant to be a bridge to the larger public. Historically the use of contemporary melodies and instrumentation has been important to reaching people in every age, especially newcomers, with the message of a more vibrant relationship with God. This is central to the purpose of worship in the Fellowship. The value of inspirational music is in the effect it has on an individual’s experience with it.
It is certainly true that people have different tastes in music, which is why we do try to use a variety of styles. The hymns used by Christian Science congregations a century ago were familiar to those attending from other denominations. That is often not the case today. We have had appreciative feedback from people of all ages who recognized some of our music and say it made them feel more at home.
What’s the difference between a covenant partner and a church member?
You just might be a Covenant Partner if:
- You have signed a piece of paper with a funny looking blue guy in the top left corner (The Covenant).
- You find yourself using phrases like “Jesus patterned” and “Spirit Saturated.”
- You receive emails that begin with “Dear Covenant Partner.”
- You live here in town and come to the Fellowship each week.
- You live out of town and have never stepped foot in the Fellowship.
- You lead a small group, share a message, or teach Sunday School.
- You are a member of Brentwood CS Church.
- You are a member of a different CS Church, or not a member of any church at all.
You just might be a Brentwood CS Church Member if:
- You have signed the Next Generation Fellowship Covenant.
- You have signed your name in the Brentwood CS Church membership book that dates back to January, 1947.
- You receive emails that begin with, “Dear Member.”
- You receive emails that our church forwards from the Committee on Publication and the Joint Institutional Committee.
- You are only a member of Brentwood CS Church (and possibly First Church, CS, Boston)
- You are eligible to vote in Leadership Team elections.
In short: you can be a Covenant Partner and not a member. We have many folks who are actively supporting our Fellowship but are not Brentwood CS Church members. Covenant Partners are eligible and encouraged to take part in all Fellowship activities.
You must first sign the Covenant before you can take the next step of becoming a Brentwood CS Church member. Ask us about our mentor program for church membership.
Do you have more questions? Are you unsure if you are a member or not? Feel free to contact Karen Carnesciali, Fellowship Administrator.