Inside and Outside the Churches of Scientology Around the World
Fifteen hundred Scientologists and their guests from across Nevada and the Western United States gathered Saturday for the grand opening celebration of the new Church of Scientology of Las Vegas. The 40,000-square-foot Church, located at 2761 Emerson Avenue, will serve parishioners from throughout Nevada and represents significant growth for the congregation formed in Las Vegas 40 years ago.
Mr. David Miscavige, Chairman of the Board of Religious Technology Center and ecclesiastical leader of the Scientology religion, presided at the evening dedication ceremony, welcoming the assembled Scientologists and guests to their new Church. He was enthusiastically acknowledged by those in attendance for dedicating the Las Vegas Church and for his instrumental role in making it possible.
Special guests participating in the dedication of the new Church included United States Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman, Las Vegas City Council member Steven Ross, and Las Vegas Neighborhood Services Department specialist and mayor’s representative to the Community Interfaith Council Maria Castillo-Couch.
In welcoming the parishioners and guests, Mr. Miscavige said, "You don’t get much closer to the spirit of what we represent than a city that rests on the dreams of artists and treats everybody as somebody. So, yes, we have opened new Churches in cultural epicenters before. But talk about ‘Center Stage Planet Earth.’ This one stands in a town so bright you can even see it glowing from deep space. And now it’s home to our newest Church of Scientology and Celebrity Centre Las Vegas."
The Mayor of Las Vegas, Oscar Goodman, welcomed the new Church: "Artistic creativity not only transforms the way a city is perceived, but the way its residents think of themselves. It changes their entire outlook and attitude towards life itself. That is where you play an especially vital role. Therefore as the mayor of the fastest-growing city, I look forward to partnering with you as the fastest-growing religion."
In her address, Congresswoman Berkley acknowledged the human rights initiatives of the Church: "It is more than encouraging to find your members moving effectively among Las Vegas families, school groups, youth organizations, and other community-based organizations, to provide effective human rights education. It is through such effective community involvement and contribution that the Church of Scientology will continue to strengthen this nation and build a worldwide foundation for peace."
Talking about the new Church, Mr. Miscavige said that Celebrity Centres are those special Churches of Scientology designed to enhance a culture by enhancing the artist.
"The first of this new breed was opened only just last year in Nashville-otherwise known as Music City, USA," he said. "But as your honorable Mayor pointed out, what plays in this city now plays in every other cultural capital on earth.
"And even more than that-and with all due respect to your Mayor’s modesty-it’s not a London, a Paris, a Tokyo, Milan or New York that tops the résumé of international performers these days. No, it’s the fact one can say: ‘I do Las Vegas, which is Show Town planet Earth.’
"So, yes-and unquestionably-when L. Ron Hubbard spoke of ‘art as viewed by people, heard by people and felt by people, because art is not just the fodder of a close-knit group of initiates but the soul food of all people…’ he might well have been speaking of what this city represents as a worldwide capital of art and entertainment-a place where big shows qualify as an ‘act of God’ and there are no words for ‘over the top,’ so long as people are enthralled," Mr. Miscavige continued.
"All of which is why it’s more than a little significant that we now cut a ribbon on an Ideal Organization that embodies what else LRH said about art-and I quote:
"’A culture is only as great as its dreams and its dreams are dreamed by artists.’
"But still that’s not all this new Ideal Organization represents. Because as an Ideal Church of Scientology, it’s amply equipped to embrace everyone else who makes up this culture. Those in the wings of every performance, those who service, care for, prop up and cater to every entertainer-as they, too, are Las Vegas, so this Church is also theirs. And the same again for everyone else who pumps the lifeblood through this city: Its technicians, its teachers, its cops, its cooks, its managers and professionals of every description-what this Church affords is likewise theirs for the asking.
"So if drug abuse and addiction plagues every showbiz palace, then spills out all over the streets-this Church can make a difference," he said. "In point of fact, you have our anti-drug programs that routinely knock down usage rates 40, 50 and 60 percent wherever they play. Then again, if there are kids out there who will never come close to achieving any meaningful goal for the simple fact they cannot read and cannot study, we have a technology that just as routinely raises literacy rates two and three grade levels in a matter of weeks. And if there are households out there in discord and contentious rifts in the neighborhoods, you have our common sense guide to living, The Way to Happiness. And wherever else social fabrics fray and citizens fall through the safety net, this Church is here to help."
Set on five acres of desert landscape, the former synagogue and school has undergone extensive renovation to accommodate all Scientology religious services and also serve as a home for the community services the Church provides through the many activities and humanitarian programs of its members.
An expansive Public Information Center houses a permanent multimedia exhibit describing the Church’s beliefs and practices and the life and legacy of Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard. Displays also cover the Church-sponsored humanitarian and social betterment programs that offer practical answers to the societal ills of crime, drug abuse, illiteracy, declining moral values and natural and man-made disasters. These programs represent the work of the Church of Scientology in servicing every community in which they reside as well as other communities around the world.
There is also a Chapel for Sunday services, weddings, naming ceremonies and other congregational gatherings including workshops and seminars for artists; spiritual counseling rooms; course rooms for religious study; seminar rooms; a bookstore containing the written and spoken materials of L. Ron Hubbard; and Community Relations offices and meeting rooms to coordinate social betterment programs with like-minded organizations in the community. There are spacious lounges and a central courtyard to serve as a gathering place for artists and community visitors, in keeping with the unique purpose of a Scientology Celebrity Centre to help the artist and thereby benefit the culture as a whole.
In closing the dedication ceremony, Mr. Miscavige spoke of the significance for Las Vegas of the new Church: "Yours is a city that rose out of sand to become an artistic empire and inspire the world. As such, it really is a place of dreams-and extravagant dreams at that. So as we, too, know what it means to build upon a dream, let this new Church of Scientology signify the fact we believe in your artists, we respect the audacity of your vision-and together, we can light up this city so brightly, it will shine unto eternity."
Accompanied by local Scientologists who spearheaded the drive to build the new Church, Mr. Miscavige cut the ribbon and invited all to enter.
Las Vegas is the third new Church of Scientology opened in 2010 and the eighth in the past year. The Brussels branch of Churches of Scientology for Europe was opened on January 23. The Church of Scientology of Quebec was dedicated on January 30 by Mr. Miscavige, the first new major Church to open in Canada. In October 2009, Mr. Miscavige dedicated two major Churches: the Founding Church of Scientology of Washington, DC, and the Church of Scientology of Rome. In April 2009, he officiated at the openings of Scientology Churches in Nashville, Tennessee; Dallas, Texas; and Malmo, Sweden.
These Churches join the roster of new Churches of Scientology in the world’s cultural capitals, including the National Church of Scientology of Spain in Madrid’s Neighborhood of Letters; the Church of Scientology of New York, just off Times Square; the Church of Scientology of San Francisco, California, in the original historic Transamerica Building; the Church of Scientology of London, England, located in the epicenter of the city; and the Church of Scientology of Berlin, Germany, near the Brandenburg Gate.
Another 12 new Churches of Scientology are scheduled for completion before the end of the year.