The History Of Our Independence
The New Jersey Supreme Court, on February 23, 1987, ruled that the Plainfield Church was legally entitled to use the name “Christian Science.” This historic decision ended a twelve-year legal battle instituted against our church by the Christian Science Board of Directors. Due to this decision our church has been renamed the Plainfield Christian Science Church, Independent.
The harassment of the Plainfield Church began in 1975 when the Christian Science Board of Directors, following a pattern of the Board of Directors’ interference in branch affairs, demanded that the Plainfield Church replace its highly-respected Board of Trustees with a new Board willing to swear an oath of allegiance to the Boston Directors. In a vigorously worded response to this unwarranted interference in our church’s internal affairs, the members rejected Boston’s demand, pointing out to the Directors that they themselves were in violation of our Leader’s Manual, specifically Article XXIII, Sections 1 and 10, and Article XI, Section 13.
The Plainfield Church’s refusal to comply with the Directors’ demand, led to our church listing being dropped from the Journal on June 16, 1977. At the same time the Directors informed us that we were no longer entitled to use the name “Christian Science” in any way.
In 1983, three years after our church had renamed itself “Independent Christian Science Church,” the Directors took us to court and obtained an injunction prohibiting us from using the term “Christian Science” in identifying our church. The church then adopted the name “Plainfield Community Church, An Independent Church Practicing Christian Science” and appealed the lower court’s decision to the New Jersey Appeals Court, which overturned the injunction and ruled that the name “Christian Science” is a generic term and not a trademark owned exclusively by the Board of Directors. This ruling was upheld in a strong majority decision by the New Jersey Supreme Court on February 23, 1987. Our total legal costs of $257,000 were fully paid by contributions from members and supporters everywhere.
The Board of Directors had 90 days in which to appeal the case to the United States Supreme Court. More than 90 days have passed and they have, therefore, forever waived their right to the United States Supreme Court on this matter. We now have won the right to use the words “Christian Science” wherever we may choose. This legal decision is truly historic. It now frees our church to use the name “Christian Science,” and opens the way for any branch church—without fear of prosecution—to claim the autonomy and right of independent action guaranteed by Mrs. Eddy in her 88th Manual, the last edition authorized by our Leader herself for the government of all Christian Science churches.
Since becoming independent, the Plainfield Church has experienced exceptional growth and prosperity. We have a large, expanding membership, including many members from out of state and abroad. Healing is the heart of the Plainfield Church, and wonderful healing work has been going on here for many years. All our services are available online, live and recorded, for those wishing to hear them. Visitors invariably comment on the atmosphere of love and joy which they feel at our services.
In 1979 our church began writing its own Lesson Sermons, and in 1980 it started publishing its own independent Quarterly, based entirely on the Bible and our textbook, Science and Health, by Mary Baker Eddy. These simple, healing Lessons go out to a large list of subscribers, many of whom write frequently to express gratitude for them.
In May 1986 we began publishing our own church magazine, “Healing Thoughts.” More recently, we saw fit to rename our church magazine “Love is the Liberator” with an emphasis on clearing up the many misconceptions of Christian Science emanating from the centralized organization. We have received the warmest thanks from all over the world from people longing for pure, healing Christian Science literature.
Our church has published many of the fine writings on Christian Science by some of the early workers in the movement. Its preservation and circulation is one of our important activities.
In 2008, the Herbert W. Eustace Trust saw fit to entrust our church with the responsibility of being the sole supplier of Mr. Eustace’s superb book, Christian Science, Its “Clear, Correct Teaching,” and Complete Writings. This was a tremendous vote of confidence for the integrity and stability of our church. Mr. Eustace was one of the great workers of Christian Science. Though appointed as a Trustee of the Publishing Society in 1912, it is clear Mr. Eustace was never “made to forget nor to neglect his duty to God, to his Leader, and to mankind” 1 which led him to defend the Publishing Society through the time of “The Great Litigation.” Though this legal battle was materially lost — and he was excommunicated for it — Mr. Eustace found his new-found spiritual freedom from central human control a great blessing, allowing him to continue to heal and teach Christian Science for over 40 years as an independent Christian Scientist.
1 from “Alertness to Duty” by Mary Baker Eddy, in the 88th Church Manual