San Fernando Valley, California
NORTH AMERICA’S LARGEST CHURCH OF SCIENTOLOGY PREMIERES IN THE SAN FERNANDO VALLEY
19 March 2017
Massive new Scientology Church sheds her ribbon to launch an epic season of expansion for the religion.
Head north over the rise from Hollywood, cross Mulholland Drive, and behold a Valley dotted with swimming pools, lemon trees and stretching for all the eye to see. At 260 square miles, the San Fernando Valley is home to 1.8 million residents, the world’s most prominent movie studios and backdrops featured in American cinema from Casablanca to ET. It’s a paradox typical of society today: right next door, yet somehow still a world away.
But amidst all of that, a new light glows across the region’s forty-four cities and communities—from Burbank and Glendale to Hidden Hills and Calabasas to San Fernando and Universal City—the new Church of Scientology Valley serves all corners of the basin.
“Today, we dedicate a Church of Scientology for this Valley of Dreams,” said David Miscavige, ecclesiastical leader of the Scientology religion. “As the San Fernando Valley is diverse, so too, is our help. And so, we welcome those from her myriad cultures, ethnicities and of any economic standing. In that respect, this Church perfectly reflects the Creed of Scientology, ‘That all men of whatever race, color or creed were created with equal rights. …And that the souls of men have the rights of men.’”
The Valley Church is a most expansive addition to Scientology’s expanding universe of Ideal Churches, now numbering 19 in the Western United States alone and 57 internationally. “Ideal” is the standard set by Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard so that every Church could be a perfect expression of the religion’s principles and practices.
So it was, on Sunday, March 19 at 1p.m., 5,000 Scientologists gathered to witness the largest Ideal Church of Scientology in North America come to life. It was a ceremony befitting the size, scope and substance of the Valley’s new home itself, from a medley of classic film scores evoking the golden days of cinema, to the “V for Valley” anthem written and arranged especially for the occasion. The thousands in attendance rose to their feet in jubilant celebration and applauded each impassioned dignitary praising the Church’s greater social impact.
For the Valley congregation, that impact extends from helping a migrant child bridge the gap in her schooling with Study Technology, to helping tens of thousands of local youth take a pledge to be drug-free. And so, this grand opening now gives the Valley’s humanitarian outreach a permanent platform.
The new Church stands adjacent to North Hollywood’s bustling junction where Burbank and Lankershim Boulevards intersect with Tujunga Avenue and some 60,000 cars pass by every day. The facility spans 95,000 square-feet upon four acres, just blocks from the NoHo Arts District and is poised to engage community change makers across the region.
Bringing that commitment to light were representatives of the San Fernando Valley on hand to welcome the Church: Deputy Chief Robert Green of the Los Angeles Police Department, Valley Bureau; Deputy Chief, Trevor Richmond of the Los Angeles Fire Department, Valley Bureau; Ms. Nellie Barrientos, Los Angeles Education Program Director; and Bishop Franklin Harris, Executive Member of the Los Angeles County Clergy Council.
Deputy Chief Green began by pointing to the need for lectures on drug education, domestic violence and gang awareness and how Valley Scientologists have been pivotal in creating such initiatives with Clergy Councils and Police Stations throughout the basin.
“Together, we’ve reached at-risk kids and adults with vital intervention and education before they become victims or suspects. And now, we have changed the course of over 25,000 lives across the Valley.”
He further highlighted the Church’s example in uniting an interfaith crusade in the region. “Let’s face it, whether you’re Jewish, Catholic, Christian or Scientologist, we’re all here to make a better community and improve the outcome of each other’s lives. But the fact is, the Church of Scientology has taken on a leadership role among our Churches. You’ve been pivotal in unifying a faith-based movement that is offering and supporting alternative solutions. And you’ve done it in collaboration with every Valley Police Division. You are not only forging a public trust, but you are safeguarding our future. And that’s what I call: ‘living the faith.’”
The Los Angeles Fire Department has enjoyed a decades long partnership with the Scientology Volunteer Ministers in disaster preparedness and disaster response. They have collaborated with Hollywood and Valley fire stations in carrying out small-scale classes with local response volunteers and even exercises for large-scale disasters.
“I know your tenets are based on a core philosophy of helping others and that extends to your level of preparedness,” said Deputy Chief Richmond. “As a non-governmental group you are especially vigilant to disaster preparedness and crisis management. The community can depend on you, and that’s a big, big deal. In fact, it’s your biggest asset.”
Deputy Chief Richmond also touched upon his experience of first working with Scientology Volunteer Ministers at the site of the Northridge Earthquake. “You were there attending to victims and organizing supply lines. You brought vital resources including over forty truckloads of rations and ten tons of provisions. And day after day, week after week, for more than 10,000 volunteer hours, you committed yourselves to the city and our people. And for that, Los Angeles is thankful for the Church of Scientology.”
The dignitaries on hand stressed the importance of the Valley Church as an invaluable community partner, one that can always be relied upon.
To that end, Ms. Barrientos, illustrated the imprint that L. Ron Hubbard’s Study Technology has left on her work with migrant families. LA County has over 200,000 migrant kids and so in tandem with Valley Scientologists, she has helped implement study tools to give these children a second chance.
“With your Learning How to Learn, parents suddenly had a way to honestly help their kids. I remember one young girl who was failing her classes,” she told the crowd. “After just four weeks of tutoring, she was among the best in her grade. It’s impossible to forget her mother’s tears when she saw how such a simple, powerful tool had opened a new world of opportunity for her daughter. Yes, time and again you have turned lives destined for failure into bright, hopeful futures.”
The Church of Scientology of the Valley has also sponsored a Christmas celebration for the migrant children over the past seven years, and Ms. Barrientos recounted the impact such an experience can have on even one life. “I still remember one young girl whose father was unemployed. I asked her what she wanted for Christmas and she said, ‘This year I think all I want is some beans and tortillas.’ She knew her parents didn’t have money for anything else. So when that little girl saw her presents from your Church, well, she lit up the room.”
Bishop Harris has worked with the Valley Church and its parishioners in distributing L. Ron Hubbard’s The Way to Happiness across the streets and avenues of his community, and even from the pulpit of his Church. “This book is full of everyday miracles,” he said. “And if you want the living proof? Since I started with The Way to Happiness, we haven’t had a homicide in our communities for more than three years.”
But perhaps best encapsulating the spirit of the day, the Bishop declared, “The world today is in need of serious resurrection. And in the face of that, Scientologists do it all on a grand scale. You’ve made up your mind that ‘we’re going to do this ‘til all hell freezes over, and even then, we’re going to do it on ice.’”
The new Church provides visitors with an introduction to Dianetics and Scientology, beginning with the Public Information Center. Its displays, containing more than 500 films, present the beliefs and practices of the Scientology religion and the life and legacy of Founder L. Ron Hubbard.
The Information Center also details the many humanitarian programs that Scientology supports. They include a worldwide human rights education initiative; a far-reaching drug education, prevention and rehabilitation program; a global network of literacy and learning centers, and the Scientology Volunteer Minister program, which has become the world’s largest independent relief force.
The massive Chapel of the Valley’s new Church of Scientology seats more than 1,000 and provides for Scientology congregational gatherings that include Sunday Services, Weddings and Naming Ceremonies. It will also host community-wide events, open to members of all denominations. The facility further includes multiple seminar rooms and classrooms, and an entire wing dedicated to Scientology auditing (spiritual counseling).
The Valley Church is the most recent in a period of explosive growth for the Scientology religion over the past 12 months. The National Church of Scientology for New Zealand in Auckland opened its doors in January of this year and more are on the way, with grand openings planned for cultural crossroads in North America, Europe, the United Kingdom and Africa.