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. . . let her own works praise her in the gates
Proverbs

Mrs. Annie M. Knott, C.S.D.
A BRIEF ACCOUNT OF HER WORK
FOR THE CAUSE OF CHRISTIAN SCIENCE


        Mrs. Annie Macmillan Knott, known to Christian Scientists as Mrs. Annie M. Knott, C.S.D., was born in Scotland, her father being a cousin of Daniel Macmillan, the founder of the Macmillan Publishing Company.

         In an article entitled "Reminiscences," which appeared in The Christian Science Journal of February, 1901, Mrs. Knott tells something of her childhood experiences and influences, and she writes: "Nothing can efface the memory of those early days when a tender father did all that earthly parent could do to fan the sacred flame of religious faith and devotion, and above all to teach me to love the Bible by associating it with all that is glorious in human history and achievement." She further states that when only eight years old whole chapters from the Bible had been memorized, never to be forgotten. She learned as a child of the Reformation, and of her Covenantry forefathers, and of a time "when it was unlawful to own or to read (the Bible) in Scotland." In this way humanity's need of civil and religious liberty was impressed upon her child-consciousness.

         During the Civil War the little family, father, mother, and three daughters, left Scotland, and settled in Ontario, Canada. The first winter that the Macmillans were in Canada the second daughter, Mary, became so ill that her parents feared for her life. There was a long and unavoidable delay in getting a doctor, and Annie's sense of grief seemed very great. Going alone to another room, she prayed to God, to save her sister. When she returned to her sister's bedside, Mary opened her eyes, spoke to her, and presently asked for something to eat. The doctor who came later acknowledged the child's recovery and gave no medicine. Annie told no one of her prayers at the time, but the experience was never forgotten. Only after finding the truth through the teachings of Mary Baker Eddy did she understand this instance of the Christ-healing.

         It is interesting here to note that years later the three little sisters, Annie, Mary, and Isabella (Mrs. Isabella M. Stewart, C.S.D., of Toronto) became Mrs. Eddy's students.

         In her "Reminiscences" (February, 1901), already mentioned, Mrs. Knott tells of the experiences which led her to Christian Science, and of the marvelous healing of her little son. Of the Christian Science textbook, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," she writes: "Day by day its teaching opened up to me the long-hidden riches of the word of God, through which all may hold communion with prophets, apostles, and saints, and sit at the feet of our Lord and Master and be made whole."

         Almost at once she began the healing ministry with great joy, and was divinely guided to settle in Detroit, Michigan, where she remained for many years as practitioner and teacher. As the first worker in Christian Science in that city, she sometimes said that it had been her privilege to "plant the flag" in Detroit.

         Mrs. Knott studied in two classes with Mrs. Eddy, the first in 1887, a Normal class, and the second a class in obstetrics in October, 1888. Both in "Reminiscences" of 1901 and in "We Knew Mary Baker Eddy" Third Series, Mrs. Knott tells vividly of her first meeting with our Leader, the first day of the Normal class in February, 1887. In the Journal (The Christian Science Journal, Vol. 18 February, 1901 p. 683) she writes: "As a Christian woman I am deeply thankful for living in an age of wonderful progress and enlightenment, an age when intelligence and integrity are rapidly becoming the controlling forces in human society, and when the power of the Christ is the greatest factor in the world. I rejoice in the glorious outlook for all humanity coming through the revelation of Christian Science, for even now the dense and tenacious beliefs in sickness, sin, and death are yielding up their claim to recognition as necessary factors of human existence, and the absolute supremacy of God Good is being admitted as the most important proposition that human thought can grasp." She continues: "I am unspeakably thankful that in the good providence of God I was permitted to be Mrs. Eddy's student, for the clearness of her teaching and the largeness of her character have been a perpetual inspiration and benediction in the sacrament of daily duty."

         Of Mrs. Eddy's inspired teaching, Mrs. Knott (ibid) says: ". . . I found that no one had ever roused me so thoroughly to see the imperative demands of God's law, and the absolute necessity of unwavering obedience to the Ten Commandments and the Sermon on the Mount. . . . She has taught us how to pray and to know that the answer is at hand awaiting our worthiness to receive it. She has taught us that Life is Good, and so we learn to live; and she is teaching us how to love since God is Love and God is all."

         In 1889 regular Sunday services were established in Detroit, Mrs. Knott preaching the sermons in accordance with instructions from our Leader. This continued until April, 1895, when Mrs. Eddy (Mary Baker Eddy, Miscellaneous Writings, p. 313) ordained the "Bible, and 'Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,' to be hereafter the only pastor of The Church of Christ, Scientist, throughout our land and in other lands." At the same time Mrs. Eddy announced that services of our denomination were to be conducted by Readers instead of pastors. In characteristic obedience Mrs. Knott immediately resigned as pastor, and was then elected First Reader in First Church, Detroit.

         Before the office of Committee on Publication was established in the State of Michigan, Mrs. Knott had the added duty of seeing that unfavorable comment in the press or from the pulpit concerning Christian Science and Mrs. Eddy was answered and corrected.

         Mrs. Knott was one of the speakers at the Parliament of Religions held in Chicago in 1893, during the World's Columbian Exposition. Mrs. Eddy selected those who were to speak, and the subject given to Mrs. Knott was "Immortals and Mortals." All papers were sent to Mrs. Eddy and the Directors of The Mother Church for their approval before being delivered. (An account is given in the Journal of November, 1893, nearly all of the addresses appearing in the November and December issues.)

         In the early 1890's and until about 1898 it became necessary for Mrs. Knott to represent Christian Scientists in the State of Michigan in regard to proposed medical bills, intended to restrict if not make illegal the healing work in Christian Science. The medical fraternity had become somewhat alarmed at the healings brought about in Christian Science, and some physicians were instrumental in having bills brought before the legislative bodies in the hope that such a bill would become a law.

         On one occasion Mrs. Knott and several earnest workers went to the State Capitol, for an evening session, when the House of Representatives was in Committee of the Whole. As the session opened the Speaker of the House read the names of persons who desired to speak on House Bill #--. The Page of the House, whose family had been helped and healed in Christian Science, knew Mrs. Knott and spoke to her, hoping that she was to be one of the speakers. He even urged her to present the Christian Science viewpoint, but she declined as she had not expected to speak. Among those who addressed the session were a number of physicians, also some professions from the medical school of the University of Michigan. The Bill as proposed would affect all other healing practice than that of the recognized medical schools, if it became a law. Only one man spoke in favor of Christian Science, but made no mention of our Leader, Mrs. Eddy. There were mental scientists and other irregular so-called healers who did not help the Cause of Christian Science.

         The Page of the House was so concerned that very near the end of the session he again came to Mrs. Knott, pleading, "For God's sake, Mrs. Knott, say a word for Christian Science!" Although she thought it was too late to send up her name, the Page insisted that he could present her card as the Speaker was a friend of his. Accordingly Mrs. Knott wrote a request for ten minutes, and then went out in the corridor to be alone for a few moments, praying and listening for the message that was so needed.

         The last doctor who spoke made a special point that the Bill should be passed to prevent fatal effects through treatment of contagious and infectious diseases by Christian Scientists and irregular practitioners. Just before midnight men were "reaching for their hats" when the Speaker announced Mrs. Knott as a Christian Scientist from Detroit. She was on her feet saying: "And a student of the Rev. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science." (See "We Knew Mary Baker Eddy" Third Series, p.81.) She then made a strong and inspired appeal for the constitutional rights of Christian Scientists, and cited a specific instance of four members of one family who were ill with what was diagnosed by a physician as smallpox. Two members, a father and son, were under medical treatment from the first, the son passing on after a week, the father recovering in due time. The other two were Christian Scientists who called on Mrs. Knott for treatment, the one being healed within a day, and the other within a few hours. In closing her remarks Mrs. Knott quoted from Science and Health a passage which one of the patients had declared in rising above the condition (495:14-24). She however was interrupted by the Speaker, telling her that she was "getting away from House Bill #--." To this she replied, "Thank you, Sir, I'm through."

         After returning to Detroit, work was faithfully done by the Christian Scientists to know that they could not be robbed of their constitutional rights. The result was that the medical bill was defeated. ("We Knew Mary Baker Eddy" Third Series, pp.81,82.) It is good to note here that the protection of Christian Science and Christian Scientists demonstrated at that time has continued through the years in the State of Michigan, and is recognized as a great factor in maintaining the right of the individual to religious freedom.

         When in February, 1898, First Church of Christ, Scientist, in Detroit, was dedicated, Mrs. Knott (Journal, Vol.16 April, 1898 p.17) as First Reader gave an address of which the following is an excerpt: "I feel that few words are needed today, and yet if I might ask of God one great gift, it would be to say the words which would best direct thought to what Christian Science can do, and is doing, to uplift humanity, and to reveal the Father.

         "In St. John's wonderful vision, we are told of a great multitude which no man could number, standing before the throne, and the beloved disciple tells us that they all came out of great tribulation.

         "And this is the chief characteristic of Christian Science churches, that the members have come from the depths of human woe, mental and physical, in most cases where hope and faith were faltering and failing, and have found in this great revelation, what? even the fulfilling of every word of prophecy, not only the prophecy written in the Bible, but the promise and prophecy of every individual life and hope, the fulfilling of God's good pleasure in us."

         The following telegram from Mrs. Eddy (Mary Baker Eddy, The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany, p.183) was read: "Beloved Students and Church: Thanks for invitation to your dedication. Not afar off I am blending with thine my prayer and rejoicing. God is with thee. 'Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.'"

         It is interesting to record that there were visiting Scientists from this country and abroad, several of whom addressed the congregation. Among these were Judge and Mrs. Ewing, and Mrs. Kimball of Chicago, Rev. Hardy of Buffalo, and Mrs. Colles of London, England.

         In 1898 Mrs. Eddy instituted The Christian Science Board of Lectureship, naming five men as members and completing the list by the addition of Mrs. Annie M. Knott, C.S.D., of Detroit, Michigan, and Mrs. Sue Harper Mims, C.S. (later C.S.B.) of Atlanta, Georgia.

         On our Leader's recommendation, Mrs. Knott was named one of the Associate Editors of our periodicals in June, 1903, which necessitated her moving to Boston. Soon thereafter she was also chosen by Mrs. Eddy to be a member of the Bible Lesson Committee, in which capacity she joyously served until 1918. Mrs. Eddy requested her to teach in the Sunday School of The Mother Church, which she did until 1919. Mrs. Knott stated that many times the inspiration for an editorial came through her work in the Sunday School.

         In March, 1919, Mrs. Knott was chosen by The Christian Science Board of Directors to become the first woman Director of The Mother Church, a position to which she devoted her life for nearly fifteen years. In her untiring and loving service to the Cause of Christian Science and to our beloved Leader, Mrs. Knott upheld the dignity of work, from the simplest tasks to the highest. In this connection she wrote to a friend: "In my long years of experience I have found that work which at first seems difficult and strenuous becomes altogether joyous and quite easy when we are willing to make the needed effort. . . . While the work on the Board of Directors is, humanly speaking, the most difficult I have ever undertaken, . . . it has given me a broader and deeper sense of the vastness of this movement, and of what has already been accomplished since our Leader stood before the world as the only Christian Scientist."

         In her wonderful article "Reminiscences" (Journal, March, 1924), Mrs. Knott quotes from Deuteronomy, (Holy Bible, Deuteronomy 8:2) "And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee." And she writes: ". . . Every step taken in obedience to divine law means far more than we are able to see at the time, or, perhaps, for long years thereafter."

         When Mrs. Knott resigned as a member of The Christian Science Board of Directors, on January 4, 1934, her letter to the Directors read in part: "This will not come to you as a surprise, since I have made known to you for some time my desire for leisure in which to gain more of the spirit of Christian Science, and to aid others to do the same in larger measure. This does not imply any lack in my experience in Christian Science, for assurance of the power of divine Truth as gained from the Bible and the inspired teaching of Mrs. Eddy has become a certainty. I would, however, press on to realize more fully the Love that 'never faileth' (I Corinthians 13:8)."

         After eight years of consecrated work following her retirement from the work of the Board of Directors of The Mother Church, Mrs. Knott passed from our sight on December 20, 1941.

 

"Mrs. Annie M. Knott, C.S.D.,
A Brief Account of Her Work for the Cause of Christian Science"
(Originally published by her pupils' Association)
 

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