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Christian Science church officials: ‘vitality’ despite shrinking membership

Seventeenth Church of Christ, Scientist in downtown Chicago. | Provided photo

The Church of Christ, Scientist has been losing members around the country for decades, but it still has a footprint in Illinois.

Founded in the 19th century by Mary Baker Eddy, the Christian Science church emphasizes that God can and does heal human ailments — so members might favor prayer over medicine.

The church’s headquarters doesn’t keep membership totals, but it does keep a tally of Christian Science churches and “reading rooms” — and there are 90 of them in Illinois.

Principia College in downstate Elsah, along the Mississippi River, admits only Christian Scientists as students. But with enrollment of just over 400 students, despite the school’s massive financial endowment, “Principia has lots of money but few Christian Scientists to fill classrooms,” the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

Questions surfaced whether someday other faiths will have to be admitted, but school administrators say it’s too soon to say.

The church recently held its annual conference at the “Mother Church” in Boston, and officials said there’s still a great “vitality.”

The Religion Roundup is also featured on WBBM Newsradio (780 AM and 105.9 FM) on Sundays at 6:22 a.m., 9:22 a.m. and 9:22 p.m. For more religion coverage, check out suntimes.com. Email tips and comments to Robert Herguth at rherguth@suntimes.com.