First Church of Christ, Scientist, Sonora

Our Church

Christian Science was founded in 1879 by Mary Baker Eddy. Her purpose was "To organize a church designed to commemorate the word and works of our Master, [Christ Jesus], which should reinstate primitive Christianity and it's lost element of healing."

On Sunday, all Christian Science churches throughout the world read the same Bible lesson sermon prepared by the Mother Church in Boston, Massachusetts. This lesson consists of selections from the King James Bible. and Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, the discoverer and founder of Christian Science.

Church interior

These services are designed with the intent to increase your love of the Bible and your understanding of God and man's relationship to God. Often, as a result, mental and physical problems are permanently healed. We warmly welcome you to our church.

Church History*

The modern appearance of our church building belies its century-old history. The white stucco building celebrated its 100th birthday in January 1989.

Although the underlying structure has remained intact through the century, the wood- framed church looked quite different as a youngster back around the turn of the century. The building was originally constructed in 1889 by Sonora's Presbyterian congregation. It was then a wood-sided building with exterior wood framing and carved railings and eaves. A double staircase facing Washington St. led to a front porch and a second story entrance.

The site's clerical history goes back at least another 30 years however. The wooden church replaced an earlier Presbyterian church on the same site that was torn down by public demand after it began to literally crumble to the ground and sprinkle Washington St. with debris.

That first church, an imposing two-story brick building, was built in 1860 (?). Just 11 years later, the mortar holding the bricks together had deteriorated so badly that the south wall had caved in and part of the roof had collapsed, according to County Historian Carlo de Ferry.

The people of Sonora demanded that the crumbling brick church be demolished the following year, after a series of major earthquakes that rocked Tuolumne County with more than 300 tremors and after-shocks during 1872. The church was torn down in 1873 and replaced some 16 years later by the wood-frame building that still stands on the site today.

The Christian Scientists purchased the Presbyterian church property in March 1928 for $3,500. At that time, the building had been abandoned for some time and required extensive renovation costing about $3,000 before the new owners could move in and begin to hold weekly Sunday services and Wednesday night meetings. The porch was removed, a ground floor entrance was built and a new aggregate exterior was applied.

It was the first church in Tuolumne County for Christian Scientists, who had been meeting in private homes and at the Washington Hall meeting hall next door to their eventual church.

Members held their first service in the county in 1904 at the home of Grace Kleinecke of Sonora. By 1914 they had formed a Christian Science Society and became affiliated with The First Church of Christ Scientist, Boston, the faith's mother church. They began meeting at the Washington Hall meeting room and opened the first Christian Science reading room and lending library in the Hender home one block away on Stewart St.

In 1927, the society incorporated and began negotiations for purchase of the abandoned Presbyterian church. Even after the initial renovation, the building needed further repairs In the late 1950s, a contractor came to look at the situation and a new concrete foundation was built and the rotting original wood floors were replaced with cement. The current stucco exterior was also applied at that time.

During the later renovations, the members discovered a cache of church history hidden behind a trap door in the ceiling. In the attic, they unearthed a collection of Saturday Evening Posts and other magazines dating back to 1907. The collection was apparently left from the Sonora Public Reading Room, which was operated in the then-Presbyterian church by the Rev. A.H. Croco as a precursor to the county public library.

Also in the attic were pieces of an o1d carved organ and etched glass lamp chimneys, all of which have been incorporated into the church's interior decoration. The simple interior of the church is similar to the original.

*Portions of the Church History were adapted from a Dec 12th, 1986 article in the Sonora Union Democrat titled "Christian Science Church has Deep Roots in Sonora" By Hall Wingate