It should be remembered, however, that Dianetics and Scientology both began as grass-roots movements. In 1950, when Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health was first published, people began to audit each other on the basis of guidance provided by the book and soon hundreds of groups formed in towns across America.
Today, the phenomenon is being repeated. Dianetics counseling groups are springing up again throughout North America, their members brought together through reading the still-popular Dianetics book, viewing a how-to video or attending a weekend workshop. In small towns and large cities, thousands have learned about Dianetics from a network television ad and three informational documentaries aired on cable television. Viewers can call the Church, which will place them in contact with each other, answer questions and provide further support. Public response has been enthusiastic and considerable.
As these groups grow, many will be further helped by individuals working at the first level of Scientology’s ecclesiastical structure, an organization called the International Hubbard Ecclesiastical League of Pastors.
Specially trained Scientology ministers who do not serve on the staff of churches, missions or other church organizations but who provide auditing and introductory services in the community are called Field Auditors. They work alone or in groups. Field Auditors and their groups are assisted by the International Hubbard Ecclesiastical League of Pastors (IHELP). Based in Los Angeles, IHELP was created to provide auditors who minister religious services outside organized churches and missions with the guidance they need. IHELP provides religious materials, publications and assistance so these ministers can minister Scientology religious services to those taking their first steps on The Bridge. (Bridge = the broad path the Scientologist follows through auditing and the study of Scientology materials is known as The Bridge. This embodies an ancient concept — a long-envisioned route across a chasm between man’s present state and vastly higher levels of awareness.)
Another growing area of the Scientology lay ministry is the Volunteer Ministers Corps, Scientologists who use the technology to help others in their communities resolve the basic problems of daily life—job stress, relationship difficulties, study problems and substance abuse. The Volunteer Minister can use a wide array of Scientology practices and counseling techniques to help people in times of travail. In cases of illness, he can help speed recovery by addressing the spiritual causes, and on the scene of accidents he can use techniques to relieve the pain and lessen the trauma.
Volunteer Ministers use The Scientology Handbook, a 900-page compendium published early in 1994 that sets out the most basic and practical techniques and procedures of the Scientology religion. This work is also available as a series of booklets, divided by topic, which have been distributed free of charge to thousands of individuals. Utilizing the “how-to” principles contained in these books, anyone, of any faith, can improve his or her own life and the lives of others. Whether someone is suffering from a severe loss or wishes to improve his marriage, the Handbook provides information that can be immediately applied. It is an invaluable aid for Volunteer Ministers and, in fact, for anyone who wants to improve his or her understanding of, and effectiveness in life.
One of the more visible manifestations of Scientology’s growth are the many missions around the world. Scientology missions minister beginning Dianetics and Scientology religious services and comprise the next level of the Church’s ecclesiastical hierarchy.
Missions are often but not always started in areas of the world new to Scientology. They are usually established by parishioners who, after studying Scientology at one of the higher churches, return to their home town or country and want to make Scientology religious services available there. Missions do not have full church status, nor do they have the authority to train or ordain Scientology ministers.
Scientology Missions International, based in Los Angeles, serves as the mother church for missions and provides guidance and support to existing missions, coordinates the far-flung network of missions, and helps Scientologists start new ones. Any qualified Scientologist may open a mission and thereby contribute to helping Dianetics and Scientology become broadly applied in society.
Missions are an important outreach activity for the Church, and by their sheer number they reflect the dynamism of Scientology’s expansion: 10 years ago there were 126 missions in 58 countries; today there are 221 missions in 107 nations.
When a mission and its congregation become large enough, the mission can qualify to become a full-fledged Church of Scientology.
Each Church of Scientology serves as the hub of all Scientology activity in its community. Churches exist in many cities on all continents. In 1965, there were 13 churches; today 143 churches span the globe.
These Churches of Scientology exist above missions in the Scientology hierarchy. Known as Class V organizations, a name which reflects the level of auditor training they deliver, they provide their parishioners a large body of beginning and intermediate Dianetics and Scientology training and auditing. They also have the authority to train and ordain Scientology ministers.
In addition to ministering the religious services and ensuring missions and Field Auditor groups located in their communities are maintaining orthodox ministries, Class V churches also assist parishioners with their marital and family problems as well as christenings, weddings and funerals, Sunday Services and congregational gatherings.
Staff in every Church of Scientology also help local parishioners establish new groups and missions and organize activities that use Dianetics and Scientology to address community needs. Church staff members typically serve on local community service boards and interfaith councils, thereby closely coordinating church and parishioner outreach activities with the needs of the community.
L. Ron Hubbard once wrote, “A culture is only as great as its dreams and its dreams are dreamed by artists.” An artist in a number of fields himself, he recognized that artists supply the spark of creativity and the vision of the future which helps improve the condition of society. Thus, the Church established Celebrity Centres, which are Class V organizations that are specifically geared to provide Scientology services to such parishioners.
Although open to all, Celebrity Centres primarily minister to artists and other professionals. No matter how famous a parishioner may be, he or she will be able to pursue auditing and training in the distraction-free and secure setting provided by these churches to improve all aspects of his their ability to be a positive influence upon society.
The largest of these churches, Celebrity Centre International, is located in Hollywood and has many parishioners in the entertainment industry. Celebrity Centre International also provides ecclesiastical management assistance to the other Celebrity Centre churches located in such places as New York, Nashville, Las Vegas, London, Paris and Vienna.
By example and through their art, celebrities influence millions. To support their endeavors, Celebrity Centres assist and support the many artists in Scientology who are actively involved in addressing the problems of illiteracy, drug-abuse, crime and other social ills.
By providing a haven for leaders in their fields, one that enables them to improve their own lives, the beneficial effect upon society of Church of Scientology Celebrity Centres is considerable.
While the Class V Churches of Scientology minister to their parishioners on a daily basis, there are higher level Churches of Scientology that minister more advanced auditing and training services of Scientology to parishioners on a less regular basis.
These Churches of Scientology that minister higher levels of training and auditing are called Saint Hills (for training) and Advanced Organizations (for auditing) and are located in centralized areas. Scientologists travel to them when they have reached this particular level of The Bridge and typically spend an extended period of time at the church while receiving these Scientology religious services on an intensive basis. Once these individuals complete the particular level of training or auditing, they return home and continue to participate with their local Church of Scientology.
The ministry of the advanced services of Scientology requires a far higher level of training for Church staff members. As more of these are trained and as the religion grows and more parishioners move up the levels, more advanced level organizations will be created to make these services easily accessible.
The Saint Hills are the religious colleges of Scientology. The most comprehensive auditor training course in all of Scientology is called the Saint Hill Special Briefing Course. It derives its name from the original course personally ministered by Mr. Hubbard from 1961 to 1966 at his home, Saint Hill Manor, in East Grinstead, Sussex, England. This course consists of a chronological study of all of Mr. Hubbard’s researches and writings on Dianetics and Scientology. It includes more than 25 books and over 12,000 pages of text contained in his Technical Bulletins which detail the exact procedures and processes used in auditing.
Additionally, Mr. Hubbard delivered more than 475 lectures to the students of the original Briefing Course. Each lecture was one to two hours long and all were recorded at the time. Today, these lectures have been reproduced on cassette tape and are listened to by students on the Saint Hill Special Briefing Course. The volume of materials is such that students minimally require a full year of study at 40 hours a week to attain certification. The result is a graduate who has a full philosophic command of Scientology.
While the Church still offers the Saint Hill Special Briefing Course in its original location in England, additional organizations have since been formed to minister this religious service to parishioners in different parts of the world, such as Los Angeles (for American parishioners), Sydney (for parishioners of Australia and New Zealand) and Copenhagen (for parishioners of the European Continent and Africa with multi-lingual needs).
Advanced Organizations minister the advanced levels of auditing in which one attains new heights of spiritual freedom. As with every level of Scientology, one may advance to a new level only once he or she has completed the previous level, and the same is true of these advanced levels of auditing. Very highly trained ministers minister these services, and the materials of such levels are only made available to those Scientologists who have progressed up The Bridge to the point where they can achieve the gains offered at this stage of their spiritual advancement.
From the late 1960s through the mid-1970s, the highest Church organizations were located aboard ships which made up a flotilla at sea. The 350-foot vessel Apollo served as Mr. Hubbard’s home. Because of this, it was the most senior Church and also the “flag ship” of the flotilla. It was called “Flag” for short, and as such the term came to signify the highest level of Scientology.
Special advanced auditing and auditor training was only available aboard Flag in what was known as the Flag Service Organization. However, as more and more Scientologists wanted to receive these services, the lack of sufficient space required that the organization move to land, and in 1975, the organization moved to Clearwater, Florida, where it occupied the 11-story Fort Harrison Hotel.
In keeping with its origin aboard the Apollo, this church retained the name Flag Service Organization. Since moving to land, it has grown to the point where it now occupies more than 20 buildings, has more than 1,000 staff, and is the world’s largest Scientology church.
Flag Service Organization serves as the spiritual headquarters for Scientologists from all over the world. It is the hub of the Scientology worldwide community, a dynamic and busy multi-lingual organization.
Flag ministers advanced auditing and the highest levels of auditor training in many languages. And because people travel there from all over the world, staying for several weeks or even months at a time, Flag maintains a religious retreat, providing food and accommodations in a strictly religious setting so that parishioners can focus on their spiritual advancement. It also provides a setting where Scientologists from many countries and ethnic origins can form friendships, formulate grass roots plans to forward the religion, and create long-lasting relationships.
The staff of the Flag Service Organization includes the highest trained and most experienced auditing and training personnel of any Church in the world. And because of their expertise, which sets the technical standard in Scientology, Flag also serves an important role in the Scientology religion by training and interning ministerial students from all lower churches and missions. Flag also offers auditing services and training levels that are available nowhere else.
A unique Church of Scientology is the Flag Ship Service Organization—located aboard the Motor Vessel Freewinds, a 440-foot ship based in the Caribbean. The ship was acquired in the mid-1980s shortly before the release of the highest advanced auditing level now available. Needing a safe, aesthetic, distraction-free environment appropriate for ministration of this level of auditing, it was decided to return to the sea, far from the crossroads of the workaday world.
Although originally conceived and established to minister the highest level of auditing, Scientologists at any point on The Bridge may now visit the Freewinds and receive a series of specialized courses in Scientology religious doctrine to further orient one as a spiritual being.
The Freewinds also serves as an international meeting place, holding religious conventions and seminars for Scientology staff and parishioners. Church staff frequently arrange gatherings for Scientology parishioners from a particular location (such as Germany, Mexico or England) to congregate aboard the Freewinds for several days and participate in religious services.
An annual Maiden Voyage event is attended by Scientology parishioners from around the world—many of whom completed this advanced auditing level on the original Maiden Voyage in 1988. While there, they participate in specialized training which enables them to assume a greater leadership role in their respective religious communities.
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From: The Church of Scientology: 40th Anniversary.
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