Snapshots of Religious Science History: Chronicles of Religious Science
How Religious Science Split Up and Came Back Together as Centers for Spiritual Living
By Jeannette Quinn Bisbee
For those of you who treasure the history of Religious Science and were extremely proud when what had been the two branches of that church came officially back together as Centers for Spiritual Living in 2012—you probably have always wondered, “What was so problematic that Religious Science didn’t all stay together? Why did it split up? What really happened to cause a movement that embraces Oneness to separate into two? How did that happen?”
Dr. Marilyn Leo, along with her late husband, Dr. Richard Leo, were the co-creators of the Science of Mind Archives and Library. Marilyn Leo has also written my favorite biography of Ernest Holmes: In His Company Ernest Holmes Remembered. She compiled and edited the very popular book: Love and Law, which is a compilation of the unpublished lectures and teachings of Ernest Holmes. She has also contributed to the biography of her step-father, Reginald Armor—Ernest Holmes’ lifelong best friend, in the book: That Was Ernest. So, there is no better person than Dr. Leo to write this new book, Chronicles of Religious Science, that looks back at the history of the organization of Religious Science/Centers for Spiritual Living and leads the reader through “historical snapshots” and documents the history of all the twists and turns that made up the history of the organization that has been dedicated to sharing Ernest Holmes and Science of Mind with the world since 1926. It is a complicated history of ups and downs. The author says it best in her preface to this new book:
“From the early beginnings in 1926, the minutes reveal that some activities have remained constant: financial restructurings have occurred; properties and stocks have been bought and sold; global activities have been pursued; and changes have been made to the educational curriculum….”
Marilyn Leo poured through numerous years of Religious Science board minutes and correspondence to try to give the reader a sense of what was happening “behind closed doors” in the establishment and growth of all aspects of Religious Science. Dr. Leo acknowledges that at times it can be sometimes a difficult history to follow as the minutes will not reference the beginnings or conclusion of a particular project, and, it seems that no trace of certain minutes of meetings exist—even when they are mentioned in later meetings. So, she has painstakingly pieced together events unfolding over the last 87 years to reveal the growth of Science of Mind, from primarily its roots as a small educational institute in Los Angeles—to a full-blown religious movement and church with followers and devotees from around the globe.
The two sections of her history that are particularly riveting are the review of the events in 1954 that led to the split of Religious Science. There was a movement to that year to make a unified Plan that would unite completely once again the Institute of Religious Science, which supervised educational offerings and licensing of practitioners and ministers, with the International Association of Religious Science Churches, which was the association of the ministers and churches around the United States and Canada charged with spreading the teachings of Science of Mind. Once Ernest Holmes accepted the idea of teaching chapters/churches, the two separate committees had worked together, but organizational and personality differences were manifesting in the 1950’s, as the two groups tried to work together. At the 1954 Convention a ‘Plan’ was put forth to formally unify the two groups and it was that ‘Plan’, and its rejection, that led to the split in Religious Science. Ernest Holmes impassioned speech in favor of the ‘Plan’ is quoted extensively in the book and it feels to the reader as if they are in that room listening to Ernest Holmes plead to the crowd for the unity of this movement he had dedicated his life to:
“…It may be that you’ll completely reject the Plan. It may be you will completely accept the Plan. It may be that the ideas of getting together can be accomplished even though you take the Plan for consideration—I mean there is no document that is infallible. There is no group of people who should be so arbitrary as to say ‘we alone know the truth’. But I would like to you to feel this—on what might be the last occasion except tonight, when all this will be over with….I would like you [to] feel that for thirty years and more, someone has had one vision—someone who knows the pitfalls better than any of the rest of you, and I would like to tell you this because this I know—unless some Plan is adopted whereby we may function as one the first thing you know you’ll be functioning as twenty. I hope it may be avoided. I pray it may be avoided. I believe that it will be avoided.”
Unfortunately, for Ernest Holmes on that historic day―after nearly 30 years of devotion to Science of Mind and all he had created and all that had grown out of his ideas—that oneness was not achieved that day, and the separation of Religious Science into two groups began….
The other part of the book which was a ‘must read’ was the opening chapter on the re-integration of the two organizations that finally came back together in 2012. It is amazing to read and be a witness to the massive amounts of good faith, hard work, visioning, sharing, phone calls, planning, committee meetings, teleconferencing, and just sheer love of Science of Mind that made this re-integration a possibility and a joyous success. In fact, personally, I wish I had read this chapter before I attended Asilomar as there are about a 100 people that I would have just gone up to and hugged and thanked for their absolute dedication and devotion. But, even this re-integration was once visioned by Ernest Holmes; he said, “Of course I know the whole thing will come back together when the right time comes, merely because it is the logical thing to do and I think in the long run, common sense usually wins.” He said this one month before his death in March of 1960.
Science of Mind Archives and Library was happy to feature, Dr. Marilyn Leo’s newest book, Chronicles of Religious Science, Volume One: The Early Years, 1926-1959 at the Centers for Spiritual Living’s Annual Retreat at Asilomar in 2013. It was highly in demand. The Archives had 20 copies available at the table that were going to be signed by Dr. Leo and given to the highest bidders at a silent auction. Numerous bids poured in throughout the week with many bidders checking and re-checking that they were at the top of the list and would walk away with a signed copy. The top bid for the book was $150, and $2,120 dollars were raised for Archives from the Silent Auction. Rev. Dr. Marilyn Leo
If you would like to read the history of the many events in the growth and development in the movement behind the ideas of Ernest Holmes and Science of Mind—then this is the book you need to read. Marilyn Leo has spent many years of her life dedicated to preserving the history of Science of Mind, and this book is an addition to that lifetime of achievement, hard work, and deep love for all that is and has been Religious Science.
If you would like a signed copy by the author, you may email your order directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. The cost will be $35.00 plus S&H of $7.50 for a total of $42.50. Please make checks out to SOM Archives, 573 Park Point Dr., Golden, CO 80401. Your copy will be mailed directly from Dr. Leo in California.
Click here to purchase a copy http://www.scienceofmindarchives.org/e-store/item/1049-chronicles-of-religious-science-volume-1