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Livermore's First Church of Christ, Scientist, marks centennial

Members reflect on community impact and historical significance

First Church of Christ, Scientist sits on the corner of Third and S N St. in downtown Livermore. (Courtesy photo)

Members and staff of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, are celebrating its centennial and reflecting on this milestone.

For over 100 years, members have congregated, praised, studied and persevered together as a group.

The significance of the church's 100-year milestone is not lost on any of its members.

"Our church has members who are second-, third- and fourth-generation Christian Scientists, as well as those who learned about Christian Science as an adult," Margaret Pereira, current member of the church, said. "Our church’s milestone anniversary celebrates the continuity of a community of practicing Christian Scientists in the Tri-Valley."

The church's main teachings center around healing, Pereira said.

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Having been involved with the church for the majority of her life, Pereira hopes the group will continue to assemble and pray for communal healing for the next 100 years and beyond.

"In our future, we’ll continue to bless Livermore and the Tri-Valley, as a light on a hill," Pereira said. "Our 100-year milestone is an opportunity to reflect on the thousands of healings that have taken place during this time and to look forward to another 100-plus years of healings in our community."

The historic church celebrated the official anniversary on March 1. Currently located at Third and South N Street in the downtown Livermore area, is a branch of The Mother Church, First Church of Christ, Scientist, originally based in Boston.

Over the years the organization has faced many challenges to better establish themselves, such as purchasing land, being adopted by the main branch and adding new programs.

In 1923, Livermore residents began to meet for weekly Christian Science sermons. At the time, most sermons took place in the homes of the various dedicated members.

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The group was not recognized by The Mother Church's main branch until 1931.

In December 1948, members pooled together their funds and purchased what is now their current property for $1,500, or almost $200,000 in today's currency.

By 1960, the church had achieved an official branch status with their mother organization. Later that year, members opted to expand their services by creating a Sunday School wing and Reading Room.

A major remodel was completed on the main building in 1997, changing the exterior of the church significantly.

Melanie Yelamanchili, a member and Reading Room librarian, explained that Christian Science was established in 1866 by Mary Baker Eddy. In the decades that followed, practicing members desired to start up new locations in their own cities.

"When branches were initially forming all over the world it was generally certain one would be near where you lived, at least in metropolitan areas," Yelamanchili explained. "In this case, our church draws primarily from Livermore and Pleasanton, although we have members as far as Tracy, Stockton, Danville and Clayton."

"100 years in downtown Livermore does cause for reflection and gratitude," Yelamanchili added. "It’s nice to know our church is close enough to many people to easily attend. Because we are in downtown Livermore and also in a neighborhood, it’s very accessible with easy parking."

Yelamanchili said the church has adapted to modern times and, while modification may be inevitable, their main message stays the same.

"The idea of church remains the same for all time, that is a place to share one’s love for God and man," Yelamanchili said. "In this digital age we are in, it’s possible certain aspects of our church services will shift to keep with the current, but our view is largely that coming together in person weekly to share church is a very important element."

Given the church's long list of programs, regular Sunday morning services, Sunday school for youth and young adults, Wednesday testimonies and more, members must devote a large amount of time and attention.

"Christian Science branch churches are 100% overseen by its members, and run in a democratic fashion," Yelamanchili said. "It takes consistent dedication from the members to meet the demands of having (these) services."

Despite the hard work that go into maintaining the church and its services, Yelamanchili describes it as a labor of love for all members.

"We have a lot of fun too. We cannot stress enough that all are welcome to this church. Each one of our members is grateful for Christian Science in their lives. Our church is a symbol of that gratitude," Yelamanchil said.

Robin Barben, a longtime member of the church, echoed many of the reflections shared by Pereira and Yelamanchili.

"It means so much to me to know that over these 100 years our members and their children learned to treat one’s neighbor with kindness, good will, understanding and respect," Barben said. "For a century we sent our children, or (we) were the children, who lived in this community with a desire to express love instead of hate, and to see through the hate to find that good is innately there."

Barben feels that fellow members strive to pray for the City of Livermore and give back to its communities. Coming together with this goal has also benefited those members.

"We have become more active and unified in our prayers for this community," Barben said. "Our intention is to bless our community by addressing some of the current and recent concerns. (This) has brought us not only closer together as members, but our hearts are changed, deepened and opened to want to be even more service to the needs of the people living here."

"The needs of our community in Livermore have brought an expanded hope and confidence that prayers for other situations that seem impossible will be answered as well," Barben added.

Upon deep reflection and discussion, First Church of Christ, Scientist, members share similar sentiment about the centennial anniversary -- pride, devotion and joy.

This April, church organizers have planned a special talk from Christian Science Board of Lectureship member, Melanie Wahlberg. “Giving Freely of Ourselves, and what we all gain” takes place a 1 p.m. April 15.

Members have said the lecture is an opportunity for residents to learn more about Christian Science and its teachings.

To find out more about Livermore's First Church of Christ, Scientist, visit the official website at Christiansciencechurchlivermore.com.

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Nicole Gonzales
 
Nicole Gonzales is a staff reporter for Embarcadero Media’s East Bay Division, the Pleasanton Weekly. Nicole began writing for the publication in July 2022. Read more >>

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Livermore's First Church of Christ, Scientist, marks centennial

Members reflect on community impact and historical significance

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, Mar 30, 2023, 4:40 pm

Members and staff of the First Church of Christ, Scientist, are celebrating its centennial and reflecting on this milestone.

For over 100 years, members have congregated, praised, studied and persevered together as a group.

The significance of the church's 100-year milestone is not lost on any of its members.

"Our church has members who are second-, third- and fourth-generation Christian Scientists, as well as those who learned about Christian Science as an adult," Margaret Pereira, current member of the church, said. "Our church’s milestone anniversary celebrates the continuity of a community of practicing Christian Scientists in the Tri-Valley."

The church's main teachings center around healing, Pereira said.

Having been involved with the church for the majority of her life, Pereira hopes the group will continue to assemble and pray for communal healing for the next 100 years and beyond.

"In our future, we’ll continue to bless Livermore and the Tri-Valley, as a light on a hill," Pereira said. "Our 100-year milestone is an opportunity to reflect on the thousands of healings that have taken place during this time and to look forward to another 100-plus years of healings in our community."

The historic church celebrated the official anniversary on March 1. Currently located at Third and South N Street in the downtown Livermore area, is a branch of The Mother Church, First Church of Christ, Scientist, originally based in Boston.

Over the years the organization has faced many challenges to better establish themselves, such as purchasing land, being adopted by the main branch and adding new programs.

In 1923, Livermore residents began to meet for weekly Christian Science sermons. At the time, most sermons took place in the homes of the various dedicated members.

The group was not recognized by The Mother Church's main branch until 1931.

In December 1948, members pooled together their funds and purchased what is now their current property for $1,500, or almost $200,000 in today's currency.

By 1960, the church had achieved an official branch status with their mother organization. Later that year, members opted to expand their services by creating a Sunday School wing and Reading Room.

A major remodel was completed on the main building in 1997, changing the exterior of the church significantly.

Melanie Yelamanchili, a member and Reading Room librarian, explained that Christian Science was established in 1866 by Mary Baker Eddy. In the decades that followed, practicing members desired to start up new locations in their own cities.

"When branches were initially forming all over the world it was generally certain one would be near where you lived, at least in metropolitan areas," Yelamanchili explained. "In this case, our church draws primarily from Livermore and Pleasanton, although we have members as far as Tracy, Stockton, Danville and Clayton."

"100 years in downtown Livermore does cause for reflection and gratitude," Yelamanchili added. "It’s nice to know our church is close enough to many people to easily attend. Because we are in downtown Livermore and also in a neighborhood, it’s very accessible with easy parking."

Yelamanchili said the church has adapted to modern times and, while modification may be inevitable, their main message stays the same.

"The idea of church remains the same for all time, that is a place to share one’s love for God and man," Yelamanchili said. "In this digital age we are in, it’s possible certain aspects of our church services will shift to keep with the current, but our view is largely that coming together in person weekly to share church is a very important element."

Given the church's long list of programs, regular Sunday morning services, Sunday school for youth and young adults, Wednesday testimonies and more, members must devote a large amount of time and attention.

"Christian Science branch churches are 100% overseen by its members, and run in a democratic fashion," Yelamanchili said. "It takes consistent dedication from the members to meet the demands of having (these) services."

Despite the hard work that go into maintaining the church and its services, Yelamanchili describes it as a labor of love for all members.

"We have a lot of fun too. We cannot stress enough that all are welcome to this church. Each one of our members is grateful for Christian Science in their lives. Our church is a symbol of that gratitude," Yelamanchil said.

Robin Barben, a longtime member of the church, echoed many of the reflections shared by Pereira and Yelamanchili.

"It means so much to me to know that over these 100 years our members and their children learned to treat one’s neighbor with kindness, good will, understanding and respect," Barben said. "For a century we sent our children, or (we) were the children, who lived in this community with a desire to express love instead of hate, and to see through the hate to find that good is innately there."

Barben feels that fellow members strive to pray for the City of Livermore and give back to its communities. Coming together with this goal has also benefited those members.

"We have become more active and unified in our prayers for this community," Barben said. "Our intention is to bless our community by addressing some of the current and recent concerns. (This) has brought us not only closer together as members, but our hearts are changed, deepened and opened to want to be even more service to the needs of the people living here."

"The needs of our community in Livermore have brought an expanded hope and confidence that prayers for other situations that seem impossible will be answered as well," Barben added.

Upon deep reflection and discussion, First Church of Christ, Scientist, members share similar sentiment about the centennial anniversary -- pride, devotion and joy.

This April, church organizers have planned a special talk from Christian Science Board of Lectureship member, Melanie Wahlberg. “Giving Freely of Ourselves, and what we all gain” takes place a 1 p.m. April 15.

Members have said the lecture is an opportunity for residents to learn more about Christian Science and its teachings.

To find out more about Livermore's First Church of Christ, Scientist, visit the official website at Christiansciencechurchlivermore.com.

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