Every Wednesday night in Christian Science churches all over the world small groups of CS congregate for the Wednesday evening service, to hear a brief sermon and share testimonies of healing. Interestingly, while the Mother Church broadcasts the Sunday Service live online, until recently they opted not to share Wednesday testimony* meetings and the Thanksgiving Service**.
Ms. Eddy is quite clear on what testimonies should entail, in the Church Manual (page 47:11-23) she clearly sates:
Testimonials. SECT. 24. “Glorify God in
your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s”
(St. Paul). Testimony in regard to the healing
of the sick is highly important. More than a mere
rehearsal of blessings, it scales the pinnacle of
praise and illustrates the demonstration of Christ,
“who healeth all thy diseases” (Psalm 103:3).
This testimony, however, shall not include a de-
scription of symptoms or of suffering, though the
generic name of the disease may be indicated.
This By-Law applies to testimonials which appear
in the periodicals and to those which are given
at the Wednesday evening meeting. [page 47: 11-23, emphasis mine]
On one hand, I agree, no one needs to hear the graphic description of a 102 degree fever with chills and vomiting (which also begs the question why where they taking their temperature anyway? It is not like it is real) this decree also leads to some pretty generic testimonies, they go a little something like this:
I would like to thank the reader for the readings from the desk this evening. I/we/my cat recently had a situation/problem/issue arise. I/we/it read S&H/the Bible/the Hymnal/other Authorized CS Lit/an article by a Lecturer/Teacher. I/we/my cat sat worked to know the truth and proclaim my/our/their freedom from error/mortal mind. I/we/it found this/these passage(s) in S&H/the Bible/lesson *insert appropriate quote(s), passage(s) or platitude(s) here* so helpful. The demonstration was immediate/healing came quickly. I am so grateful for Our Beloved Leader/Discover & Founder (MBE) and Christian Science for *insert generic CS platitudes here*, thank you again for the readings.
Sometimes they go off script and ramble about how many days it took, my favorites are the ones that are clearly about menstrual cramps (“lower abdominal discomfort” or “cramps”) which clear up after 2-3 days of “knowing the truth,” or chicken pox which “cleared up wonderfully” with in a week or so.
The best ones happen in the last ten minutes of Wednesday evening services when someone feels compelled to stand up and break the awkward silence, and at the Thanksgiving service where people feel compelled to get up and share they are “grateful for Christian Science and how it has benefited our family over the year.” Occasionally someone will have typed it up in advance and will read several pages, including passages and citations they found helpful. Every now and then the reader has to remind someone to “please be succinct so that all may share” and occasionally they have to cut someone off with a curt “Thank you” signaling they are done (sometimes people miss this hint and continue anyway).
Occasionally someone who is not a Christian Scientist will testify, which leads to some really special views, one of my all time favorite was the time a a church organist talked about the time she lost her watch in a parking lot and went back to the store later to see if it had been turned in to lost and found. Apparently some “young Hispanic men” had returned it and this was “very surprising” to her. She was “so grateful for their honesty.”
Honestly, I am quite surprised that The Mother Church allows people to listen to the Wednesday testimony meetings online as some of the views espoused are not necessarily 100% inline with the church’s views, and people tend to pontificate on when they get the chance to speak in the Mother Church.
*/** I checked the website, you can now listen to Wednesday evening Testimony Meetings. As of Thanksgiving 2011 you were unable to listen to the Thanksgiving service online.