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Original Church Photo - circa. 1936

Probably every church of the Christian Science demonination is the fruit of a seed of Truth planted in some receptive consciousness, and First Church of Christ, Scientist of Terre Haute, Indiana, is no exception. The story of the planting of this seed is told in the following letter, written by the daughter of Mr. George Prescott, who experienced this first Christian Science healing in Terre Haute.

"My father had suffered from attacks of severe stomach trouble, the nature of which baffled the local physicans. A St. Louis specialist who was called to him failed to diagnose the case, even though a stomach pump was applied and the contents of the stomach analyzed. Another specialist also declared the case hopeless and said my father might die any time during one of these attacks

In the spring of 1895 Mrs. Annie B. Dorland, C.S.B., of Indianapolis, was called and come and spent one-half day with us. The paroxysms of pain ceased, and my father recovered very soon and regained perfect health, which lasted for many years. The inordinate taste for tobacco and the habit of using profane language were healed at the same time. It was a must beautiful spiritual healing, for my father began the study of the Bible and of Science and Health at once. My mother and I had been interested in Christian Science for some time.

Both of my parents took class instruction from Mrs. Dorland and began to hold Sunday morning services regularly in their home. These two dear people faithfully continued this work, even if only they two were present on Sunday morning, until another dear one, Miss M. Elizabeth Wright, was healed, and the increase in attendance began. My parents moved to a distant city, and Miss Wright carried on the work from that time."

As the work of Miss M. Elizabeth Wright C.S.B., has been the only continuous work done in Terre Haute, we shall quote her own story.

"For two weeks during December, 1895, my mother received absent treatment in Christian Science from a practitioner and teacher in St. Louis, who had been recommended to us by a friend. Seeing the remarkable results of this work, I then told my father that this was due to Christian Science; but when he heard this, he refused to permit the treatment to continue, and my mother passed away under medical treatment. This same practitioner, Mrs. Julia Field King, then worked for me, and I was completely healed of grief and of the fear of death. I alone of my family was uplifted. Desiring to know what had caused the change in my mother and myself, I decided to investigate Christian Science. My desire was to go to Boston, but through the same friend introducing me to this practitioner and teacher, I went to St. Louis instead and studied in the month of August. While going through this class, I was healed of spinal trouble of long standing, and the desire came to me to have that mind in me "which was also in Christ Jesus." I spent the year 1896-1897 in Washington University, studying mathematics and music, and continuing my study of Christian Science. In 1896, I joined The Mother Church and First Church of Christ, Scientist, of St. Louis. I then resigned my position in the public schools of Terre Haute and began to work for the cause of Christian Science. My name was placed in the Journal in 1896. Since this time I have worked as a practitioner in the field every year with the exception of 1899, when I taught in The Principia in St. Louis. In December, 1902, I was invited to join the Primary Class in the Metaphysical College, taught by Mr. Edward A. Kimbal, and received the degree of C.S.B.

"I read with Mrs. Prescott for about a year in their home. Then when she and Mr.Prescott left the city, the services were brought to my home. About this time six Scientists from Quincy, Illinois, joined us in the work. For some years services which were called Christian Science, but which were in reality Unity, had been going on in the city. That work, however, was discontinued and some of the members joined us and were later class taught and proved to be very helpful workers in the cause of Christian Science.

My first patient was myself, healed through the study and application of the teaching in Science and Health. My father was then sufficiently healed of prejudice that he was my next patient. He was healed of a claim of gall stones and several years' standing. Twice he was instantaneously healed of attacks, the last time permanently so. I was so filled with awe at this manifestation of God's power that I consecrated my life to God's work at that time and gave up everything I knew how to give up. About this time I carried the Truth to Mr. Herman A. Vaughan, a farmer living in the country, who had been given up to die from organic heart trouble. His healing and my own were both accomplished through the study of our textbook, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy. The story of his healing is told in the chapter "Fruitage" in an edition of Science and Health published in 1900.

In 1897 I greatly desired to visit The Mother Church, and I shall never forget the inspiration of that Annual Meeting. From a small allowance I had been able to save $5.00, knowing that the law of multiplication that operated for the loaves and fishes would do so for this. Ten days before time to start for Boston I was given the opportunity to treat a driving horse for my father. He said I could have her if I could heal her. In one week she was pronounced completely healed, and I told her back to my father for $100.00, which took me to Boston. While in Concord I stood one afternoon with Miss Brainerd in front of her home and saw Mrs. Eddy pass by. As her carriage approached it slowed down and see looked into my eyes and bowed and smiled. As her carriage passed on, she turned back and looked at me. For some reason I wanted to weep, and I have always felt that this was a benediction. I have never forgotten that picture of the refined lady, with her white hair and wonderful eyes, dressed in heliotrope with a tiny bonnet and ermine cape."

Miss Wright served as First Reader for about six years. Mr. Edward Wagnalls, one of the six who came from Quincy, Illinois, was first man reader, serving as Second Reader with Miss Wright. Mr. Ben Huntington was the first man to serve as First Reader.

About 1888 Mr. J.W. Jaynes came to the city and did some Christian Science healing work and organized a class, which was taught by Mr. John P. Filbert C.S.D., in 1899. However, neither of these men remained in the city long. After their departure some members of this class drifted into mental healing, but those who were really seeking the Truth later joined the little band meeting in Miss Wright's home. Among these was Miss Minnie Hamaker, a member of Mr. Filbert's class and still a resident member of this church.

In the spring of 1898, Mrs. Minnie Shultheis, a practitioner of Quincy, Illinois and mother of Mrs. Henrietta Barhydt, suggested to the little group that it was time to begin holding services on Friday evenings. This was done; but, following the example of The Mother Church, the Friday evening service was soon changed to Wednesday evening.

The regular Sunday Services and Wednesday evening testimony meetings were continued in the home of Miss Wright until sufficient numbers were attending to justify the organization in 1898 of a Christian Science Society. In 1899 a small room was rented over Paige's Music Story at 642 1/2 Wabash Avenue. Professor Kilbourne gave us the use of the chairs and the piano and paid the janitor for us. We paid $6.00 a month rent and the gas bill. The little Society held their meetings in this room for eight months, at the end of that time taking a vacation for two months.

It was while the services were being held in this room that a Sunday School was started with three children and one teacher. This first teacher was Mrs. Henrietta Barhydt, another one of the group of six who came from Quincy, Illinois. The three pupils were Ruth and Lloyd Doherty and Paul Stewart. Soon the class of three was increased to four by the coming of a cousin of the Doherty children.

In 1900 a room over a new ten-cent store between Third and Fourth Streets on Wabash Avenue was secured. The man in charge of the rental room refused, when he returned from a vacation and learned what the girl in his office had done during his absence, to allow us to move in because of our belief; finally, however, he consented to let us go in for over Sunday until he could communicate with the owner of the building who was in Cincinnati. The owner of the first building where we were had also objected and did not want us there for the same reason.

In 1900 a reading room was opened. The first free public lecture on Christian Science in the city was given in the Grand Opera House in the fall of 1900 by Judge Ewing to an audience consisting of the most intellectual people in the city. At this time interest in Christian Science had grown to such an extent that only one announcement was required to secure the necessary fund to defray the expense of this lecture.

On March 23, 1902, the Society incorporated under the laws of Indiana as First Church of Christ, Scientist, of Terre Haute, Indiana. Judge Van Buskirk, later became a member of the Board of Lectureship, drew up the articles of incorporation which were signed by sixteen charter members. They were: M. Elizabeth Wright, Sarah L. Wright, Emma Reichert, Henrietta S. Barhydt, Theodore Barhydt, Lovina Dogherty, Mr. J.O. Dougherty, Mr. & Mrs. Waginalls, James Dishon, Mrs. Ora Vaughan, Mr. Herman Vaughan, Ida Duncan, Mrs. D. Betts, and Mr. Payton.

The officers of this newly incorporated church were: First Reader, Miss M. Elizabeth Wright; Second Reader, Mr. Herman A. Vaughan; President, Mr. J.O. Doherty; Clerk, Miss Jessie Butts; Treasurer, Mr. T.W. Barhydt, Jr.; Superintendent of Reading Room, Miss Jessie Butts; Local Member of Committee on Publication, Mr. James M. Dishon. This same year two rooms which could be thrown together were secured in the new Swope Block at the corner of Seventh and Ohio Streets. One of these rooms was used for the reading room.

On July 6, 1914, articles of re-incorporation were drawn up and filed with the Auditor of State and with the recorder of Vigo County. The first meeting of these newly incorporators was held in the reading room, Room 303, Terre Haute Trust Building, on September 14, 1914.

Other changes in location have been made as more commodious halls have been needed and have been available. In 1904 the Coffroth house on Ohio Street was remodeled for us. This gave us a room for holding our services which seated 100 people and a room for the Reading Room. In 1908 we moved to the Odd Fellows Building at Eighth and Ohio Streets, and in 1910 to the Knights of Pythias Building on South Eighth Street. In 1911 we moved to the Shriner’s Temple, formerly the old Central Christian Church on Mulberry Street. In 1913 we changed to the old First Baptist Church and Sixth and Cherry Streets, where we remained for ten years until we moved into our own structure.

Looking forward to the erection of a church edifice, the congregation purchased in 1913 a lot in the best residential district in the city in the 800 block of South Sixth Street. However, this lot was later sold for more than it had cost and what seemed to be a more desirable one at the corner of Sixth and Swan Streets was purchased in December, 1918. Here our church edifice was commenced. The corner of this structure was laid at six o’clock, Saturday morning, August 8, 1921. Mr. George Blood, First Reader, read the service, which was taken from page 16 of “First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany” by Mary Baker Eddy. This was followed by silent prayer and the audible repetition of the Lord’s Prayer, led by Mrs. Malinda Oakley, Second Reader. Besides these two readers and the architect and the stone masons, there were present at this service; Mr. Frank Stone, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and Mrs. Hallie Hymer, Mrs. Stella Adamson, Mrs. Mabel David, Miss Emma Reichert, Dr. J.C. Vaughan, Mr. Arthur Kling, and Mr. Bert Viquesney, all members of the Board of Trustees, the last two named being also members of the Building Committee; and Dr. Howard D. Caton, Miss M. Elizabeth Wright, and Mrs. Georgia Stone, the other members of the members of the Building Committee. The following articles were placed in this corner stone: one copy of each of the following books by Mary Baker Eddy;

Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures

Miscellaneous Writings
First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany
Unity of Good and Other Writings
Christian Healings and Other Writings
Christ and Christmas
Church Manual;

one copy of the Holy Bible; of the Christian Science Quarterly for July, August, September, 1921; of the Christian Science Hymnal; and of The Mother Church by Joseph Armstrong; and one copy of each of the following Christian Science periodicals:

The Christian Science Sentinel

The Christian Science Journal
Der Herold Der Christian Science
Le Heraut de Christian Science
The Christian Science Monitor

The basement unit of our church edifice, the Sunday school room, was completed, and for eight years all the regular services were held in this room, beginning on the first Sunday in November, 1921.

During the completion of the other units all the regular services were held in the basement of Zorah Shrine Temple on North Seventh Street from Sunday, February 16, 1930, until the opening of the new church.

Our church edifice, said to be the most beautiful church in the city, was completed and the first service held in the auditorium on Sunday, May 11, 1930. On this date three regular Sunday Services, morning, afternoon and evening, were held, that all who desired to attend might have the opportunity to do so. The cost of this church property, including grounds, building, furniture, installation of the organ, etc.., has been $165,000. Our organ was a gift from Mr. Carl Stahl.

Two days after this opening, on Tuesday, May 13, 1930, at 8:00 o’clock, the first free lecture in the new church was given by Mr. Arthur DeCamp, C.S.B., his subject being “Christian Science: It’s Acord with the Lord’s Prayer.”

Since 1907 at least two lectures have been given annually, which have been a great stimulus in arousing interest in Christian Science in this community. A reading room has been maintained continuously since 1900, where many copies of the Bible and of “Science and Health”, “our only preachers”, and other writings of Mrs. Eddy, as well as of all other authorized literature, are in constant demand and circulation

Many beautiful healings have been accomplished through the work of the practitioners, who have represented many different teachers. These healings include such claims as: tumor, cancer, tuberculosis, heart disease in the last stages, goiter, rupture, small pox, St. Vitus’s dance, fevers, mental surgery of broken bones, insanity, nervous disorders, pneumonia. liquor and tobacco habits, painless childbirth and dentistry, and various others.

Surely this church is built on the rock, for the waves of error have beat upon it; but, even though its growth has been slow, yet it has been steadily forward and upward. Our prayer is, in the words of our beloved Leader, (Miscellaneous Writings, pg. 397).

”Some daily good to do

To thine, for thee;
An offering pure of Love, whereto
God leadeth me.”

Recorded January 11, 1934 - by Mary Hill Sankey, Clerk

The church edifice was destroyed by fire on November 2, 1981. On June 7, 1982, permission was received from the city of Terre Haute to rebuild a church edifice on the present location at 329 South 6th Street. The membership selected design-build contractors Earl C. Rodgers and Associates, Inc. to erect the new structure. The building was removed and the Aeolian-Skinner organ was sold to E.H. Holloway Corporation of Indianapolis.

After the fire, church services were temporarily held in the Laborer’s Union Hall at 5th and Poplar Streets until arrangements could be made to hold services at the United Ministries Center, 321 North 7th Street from which we moved into our own structure as of Easter Sunday, April 3, 1983.

As of May 1, 2002, the Reading Room at 623 Cherry Street was moved to it’s current location in the church Sunday School room of the church structure.

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