Dr. William Hornaday

Dr. William Hornaday
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A Visit With Dr. Catherine Ponder about Dr. William Hornaday

Dr. William Hornaday and Ernest Holmes
Dr. William Hornaday and Ernest Holmes
Courtesy Science of Mind Archives.

When I received the Dr. William Hornaday Humanitarian Award at the United Church of Religious Science minister's conference in San Diego, California, in 1998, it brought back such a rush of memories.

Dr. Bill Hornaday was one of the most popular ministers to ever grace the New Thought scene. He had been personally appointed by Dr. Ernest Holmes, the Religious Science founder of the Science of the Mind teaching, to become minister of Founder's Church, Los Angeles, when Dr. Holmes retired.

"Dr. Bill," as he was known well by his peers, was greatly revered by them. This I realized when I began lecturing in Religious Science churches around the country during the 1960s. Everywhere I went, the minister would say just before the lecture, "Now we must make 'a Bill Hornaday' entrance."

I soon learned that meant we would wait at the back of the church and at the appropriate moment we would work our way down the aisle to the platform. It was a bit of "high drama" that people loved and expected.

I personally was exposed to Dr. Bill's entrances when I gave a party at the INTA Congress held in Kansas City, Missouri. A number of officials of Unity School were on hand for my luncheon, held in my hotel suite. Dr. Bill said, "My plane is due in just about the time of your luncheon, but I'll be there as soon as possible."

After the guests had visited a sufficient length of time, we then sat down to lunch. At that precise moment, there was a knock on the door, and there stood Dr. Bill Hornaday, as he smilingly said, "I told you I'd make it." This gave me an opportunity to take him around to each table and introduce him to each guest separately—some of whom he knew; others of whom he had heard about but had not from the officialdom of Unity School. It was a high moment for the guests to get to meet the famed "Dr. Bill" but it was probably an even greater high for Dr. Bill to receive so much individual appreciation and attention. I quickly learned that there were a number of ways to make "a Bill Hornaday entrance."

Later, when I was invited by Dr. Bill to conduct a prosperity seminar at Founder's Church, Los Angeles, as busy as he was, he still personally oversaw all the details of my visit. He made it a point to visit every hotel in the area, and determine the one in which he felt I would be most comfortable. He entertained me, along with my staff, at the exclusive Jonathan Club of Los Angeles. He appointed one of his assistant ministers, Dr. Edythe Clark, to act as my hostess. We enjoyed each other's company because she had earlier been in the oil business in Texas, and appreciated the work I was doing for the New Thought movement in "the heart of Texas." She would thereafter send me Christmas cards and little notes until the time of her passing some years later.

Dr. Bill had advertised my seminar near and far, and his diligence paid off. Founder's Church was filled to the rafters, with standing room only, for those in attendance. He responded quite gleefully as he sat in his office, with a member of my staff, listening over the p.a. system. My staff member said Dr. Bill laughed the hardest of anyone at some of my humorous illustrations.

One of the "fringe benefits" of the Founder's Church seminar was that in attendance was a car salesman named John Blayney. Business had been slow so John decided to begin daily use of some of my prosperity affirmations, but in a certain way; with my Southern accent.

Mind you, this was a man from the Midwest, who had lived in the Far West for some time. And to those two accents he added mine in his affirmations and treatment work for prosperity. (His wife wondered if he was suffering from "temporary insanity" as she listened to his strange mix of accents in affirmation form.) But God must have a sense of humor, because this man got results anyway! He later reported to me that in one day alone, he sold more cars with all the extras, than in his entire business career; he felt, thanks to the power of prosperous words spoken—accents and all.

Furthermore, he later became a Religious Science minister, continuing a pioneering Religious Science ministry, started earlier, in Palm Springs. Since our birthdays were only a day apart, I had the pleasure of celebrating with the Blayneys for many years. John always had another enthusiastic story to relate about how the Science of Mind teaching had just worked successfully in someone's life. So Dr. Hornaday's influence was felt far and wide over a long period of time, even reaching into what became known as my own back yard.

Dr. Bill's influence and accomplishments were so varied that it was staggering: As an ambassador of Religious Science, he studied personally with Carl Jung in Europe, and Dr. Albert Schweitzer in Africa; also with such well known theologians as Karl Barth.

He served Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy in the Commission for Civil Rights, and he served President Johnson at the White House Conference on Health. He also served as a great chaplain of the United States Senate. He was a 33rd Degree Scottish Rite Mason. The many varied awards he received included one from the Rotary International. On a global level he received awards from the State of Israel, and the Country of Vietnam. He also served on a number of Los Angeles boards, including the annual Hollywood Bowl Easter Sunrise Service Committee.

On a personal note, Dr. Hornaday told a mutual minister friend that after my book, The Dynamic Laws of Prosperity, was published in 1962, the attendance at Religious Science churches in Southern California doubled. I was not aware of this but what I was aware of is this:

When you realize that the shelf life of the average book is from six weeks to six months, it's no small accomplishment to have your books available for almost forty years, with an ever increasing popularity. Much of this is due to the help I have received form the Religious Science Movement in stocking my books in their many churches, and using them in various ways in their ministries.

I cannot prove it, but I strongly suspect it all began with Dr. Hornaday discovering that book, soon after it was published, and quoting it to religious Science ministers around the globe. As Dr. Bill Hornaday was considered "the Apostle of Religious Science," he was generous in his help of fellow New Thought co-workers, even sight unseen.

It is with pleasure that the INTA now has serving on its Executive Board, the Senior Minister, Rev. Arthur Chang. Dr. Bill's "fringe benefits" never cease. How grateful we are for Dr. Hornaday's "long reach" even into the twenty-first century!


(Excerpt - New Thought Magazine — Summer 2001)

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