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Rooms offer a haven to read and reflect

April 27, 1997

By MARLO BARNHART

Staff Writer

There's a place in Hagerstown that boasts a quiet little haven for prayer, study or just contemplation, yet few are aware of its existence.

"We have so much to offer for anyone," said Debi Tatnall, speaking of the Christian Science Reading Room at 235 N. Potomac St.

The two-room reading complex is housed in half of a Victorian house, sharing its space with the First Church of Christ, Scientist, congregation of Hagerstown.

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"There is a quiet atmosphere here, a place where one can find solutions to problems or just to be inspired," Tatnall said.

The reading room is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. There is always a knowledgeable person available in the form of a volunteer attendant, she said.

There are books on dozens of subjects, several versions of the Bible, cassette tapes, video tapes, copies of the Christian Science Sentinel weekly magazine and the daily Christian Science Monitor newspaper.

Some items are available for use on site or for loan, like any library. Most items are also for sale.

There are also many copies of the book that started it all - "Science And Health with Key To The Scriptures," written by Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of the faith.

Born in 1821, Eddy was 54 when her book was published. Nine million copies later, it is still causing a stir, earning its author a place in the National Women's Hall of Fame in 1995.

"That book has certainly stood the test of time," Tatnall said. It was first published more than a century ago and set out the principles of spirituality and faith to promote well-being and healing.

Tatnall said she is amused at all the "press" that spirituality and faith healing are getting these days.

"It's all the rage now but we've been quietly doing this for over 100 years," Tatnall said of Mary Baker Eddy's Christian Scientists.

Stories of miracles and testimonies of healing abound in the reading room.

"Healing is a big part of every magazine story, everything from AIDS to cancer," Tatnall said. "All are verified by three independents, and that gives you confidence."

All are welcome at the reading room and that is emphasized by a sign out front that bears just that message.

"We have no plans to convert you when you visit," Tatnall said.

Comfortable in her personal choice, Tatnall said she and others have the freedom to see a doctor if they desire. "We are not anti-doctor and no one is criticized for seeing a doctor," she said.

She illustrated her point with the philosophy that we are all walking a path, not necessarily the same path.

At the same time, the reading room can offer knowledge, ideas and support in many forms.

"We are big on the Internet too," Tatnall said, reminding those who have computers at home.

While there is a computer in the reading room for use of visitors, it isn't hooked up to the Internet yet. But that is being considered, Tatnall said.

For more information on the reading room, call 733-3286.

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