The international expansion of the Church of Scientology, which began just a decade ago with the establishment of the religion’s first “ideal” Church in Johannesburg, South Africa, continued at its unprecedented pace throughout 2017.
In January, the congregation in Auckland, New Zealand kicked off the year of growth with the rebirth of the Church of Scientology New Zealand—the second oldest on the planet. Over the course of the year, on average, a new Church was opened every 45 days. With the dedication at the end of December of the new Church of Scientology Johannesburg North, the number of Ideal Churches has now grown to 63 in all.
As the year’s roster of openings filled the calendars of Scientologists in both hemispheres, new Churches were also dedicated in California’s San Fernando Valley; Miami, Florida; Copenhagen, Denmark; Dublin, Ireland; Birmingham, England; and Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
But the expansion of congregations around the world involved much more than the meticulous construction and architectural restorations of these elegant new homes for the spiritual growth of Church members.
Every Scientology Church offers a wide array of resources from a Public Information Center providing an introduction to the principles and practices of Scientology and the life and legacy of Founder L. Ron Hubbard, to congregational services on Sundays, in addition to Life Improvement Courses and spiritual counseling (auditing).
The new Church openings also represent new platforms for the Church’s worldwide humanitarian campaigns in the fight against the social ills so adversely affecting urban populations such as: drug abuse, violations of human rights, illiteracy, mental health abuse, social injustice and religious bigotry.
Recognizing the need for sweeping social change and betterment, each of these new Churches of Scientology serves as a center for volunteers and members studying the technologies developed by L. Ron Hubbard to address those issues.
The doors of every Church of Scientology are open to interfaith and community groups in their respective cities, with each new Church serving as a home for wider outreach of these social programs and the promotion of peace and unity among all people.
In 2017, these new Church facilities have hosted and organized public events and awareness drives reaching into schools to educate teachers and students about the risks of illicit drugs, the possibilities created through more efficient learning technologies and the importance of protecting human rights.
Throughout the year the openings also served as points of inspiration for missions and Church groups around the world, who have witnessed what spiritual freedom and a concern for humanity can do in furthering a more peaceful and productive world.
The evidence of success in these humanitarian programs is clearly seen within the stories of those who have made expansion of the religion a key element in bringing harmony, trust and well-being to the world’s diverse populations. Those programs, from the safe harbor of the congregations that support them, have engendered respect, cooperation, and enlightenment even within countries that have suppressed religious freedoms and the freedom of expression.
Through these networks, and through their combined influence and volunteer efforts, the Churches and programs continued in 2017 to make the footprint of Scientology a sign of hope for millions of people worldwide.