Over the years, this ministry has evolved from part-time volunteers to people who have dedicated their lives to further the religion. Since the first church, the number of staff has grown from a handful of 10 to nearly 13,000--more than a thousandfold increase.
Today, local churches and missions are administered by a corps of staff members who covenant to serve their Church for 2-1/2 or 5 years.
Some staff enter ministerial training and become auditors, ministering spiritual counseling and training to parishioners. Others become trained church administrators to provide the necessary support so that auditing and training can be ministered.
All Church staff are dedicated individuals. Staff in missions and churches generally work a 40-hour week from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and return to their homes and families at the end of the work day. Other staff work evenings and weekends. Staff also devote two-and-a-half hours of each day to Scientology training and auditing so they themselves can continue up The Bridge. Staff members often receive higher level training at Church of Scientology International or Flag Service Organization to acquire advanced organizational or auditor skills.
There is also a particularly dedicated category of staff in Scientology, members of the Sea Organization.
The Sea Organization (or Sea Org) is a religious order that is distinct from the various Scientology church organizations, though Sea Org members are responsible to the particular Church corporation for which they work. Unlike other Scientology staff, each member of the Sea Org signs a pledge of eternal service to Scientology and its goals -- and thus members of this religious order form the dedicated core of the religion.
The Sea Organization derives its name from its earliest beginnings in 1967 when L. Ron Hubbard, having retired from his position as Executive Director International, set to sea with a handful of veteran Scientologists to continue his research into the upper levels of spiritual awareness and ability. These original members formulated a one-billion-year contract in recognition of their personal dedication to the religion as immortal spiritual beings. Today all new Sea Org members sign such a contract to continue this tradition.
Although the majority of Sea Organization members are now located on land, in keeping with the tradition of the beginnings of the Sea Organization, they still wear maritime uniforms and have ranks and ratings.
Appropriate to their commitment of eternal service to the religion, Sea Org members bear a unique responsibility within Scientology, for they are the only Scientologists entrusted with the ministry of the advanced levels of Scientology training and auditing. All advanced churches and management-echelon church organizations employ only members of the Sea Organization religious order. While such members sign legally binding employment contracts and are responsible to the directors and officers of the church where they are employed, the eternal commitment to Scientology as a member of the Sea Organization is a fundamental requirement for employment. Today, more than 5,000 members of this religious order occupy staff positions in Scientology church organizations around the world.
No formalized structure exists for the Sea Org, and its lines of seniority are in accordance with the ecclesiastical hierarchy of churches described earlier. Rather, commitment to the Sea Organization is a sign of devotion to the religion and its objectives of spiritual salvation. As such, members of the Sea Org are afforded great respect by non-Sea Org staff and parishioners, because of their commitment.
Sea Org members, having devoted their lives to their religion, work long hours and live communally with housing, meals, uniforms, medical and dental care provided by the Church. They participate in Scientology religious training and auditing services during a portion of each day, but otherwise dedicate themselves to furthering the objectives of Scientology through service to the religion in their particular staff positions.
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From: The Church of Scientology: 40th Anniversary.
Copyright 1994-2001 CSI. All Rights Reserved. Scientology, The Bridge and Flag are trademarks and service marks owned by Religious Technology Center and are used with its permission. Scientologist is a collective membership mark designating members of the affiliated churches and missions of Scientology.