he Flag Service Organization, the highest-level Church of Scientology in the world, was located in Clearwater in 1975.
“Flag” in nautical terms means “the flagship” or the lead vessel. The term was maintained from the days when the Flag Service Organization was aboard a ship called the Apollo, which Mr. Hubbard originally took to sea in 1967 to conduct his further research and writing on the Scientology religion. The sea was beloved to Mr. Hubbard, a master mariner who had conducted expeditions under the prestigious Explorer’s Club flag, and who was licensed to operate any type of vessel in any ocean.
Activities on the Apollo grew into the Flag Service Organization, which had the highest levels available of Scientology religious counseling (known as auditing) and training. When public demand for Flag services outgrew the confines of the ship, Flag established itself on shore in Clearwater.
Thousands of Scientologists now avail themselves of auditing and training at Flag each week, delivered by 1,300 staff.
An estimated 10,000 Scientologists now live in the Tampa Bay area. They come from all walks of life, from fine artists, computer programmers and designers to doctors and accountants. Many Scientologists are active in the community, volunteering their time to clean beaches, tutor students, entertain all ages, and produce events downtown which generate a high community spirit. It has been estimated that Scientologists contribute 165,000 — 170,000 hours annually to volunteer in these activities as well as others like Winter Wonderland and the Say No to Drugs Classic Race.