LONDON — More than 3,000 members and friends of the Church of Scientology of London packed Queen Victoria Street in the heart of London for the sensational grand opening of the new home of the UK's oldest Scientology church.
Steps away from the Tate Gallery and St. Paul's Cathedral, the beautifully restored historic building at 146 Queen Victoria Street now serves the growing membership of London-area Scientologists. Its opening marks the largest expansion for Scientology in the Church's 50-year history in London.
Guest of honor, Mr. David Miscavige, Chairman of the Board of the Religious Technology Center and ecclesiastical leader of the Scientology religion, stressed the historical importance of London. "This is the city L. Ron Hubbard himself [founder of the Scientology religion] selected as home to the first Scientology organization. This is also the city wherein he first defined the human spirit as an immortal being possessed of capabilities beyond anything predicted, and so arrived at the axiomatic truths on which the whole of Scientology is founded. Your early London organizations were also the original proving ground for the bulk of Mr. Hubbard's social betterment programs which are used to uplift neighborhoods just like this one."
The London Church on Tottenham Court Road, which served the community for the past 38 years, was also completely refurbished and re-opened on Sunday as a Scientology Life Improvement Center. It now features a full public information exhibition, including audio-visual presentations of the Church's work across society, and introductory film showings, live lectures and materials for anyone to learn more about Scientology for themselves.
To add to the import of the day was the announcement that the Church had acquired and renovated the very building where, in 1957, Mr. Hubbard established that first Scientology organization in the UK at 35-37 Fitzroy Street.
The Church of Scientology of London was welcomed to its new premises on Queen Victoria Street by Alderman Ian Luder, representing the Lord Mayor of the City. He spoke of the effective help the Church provides to get people off drugs and its successful programs to reduce crime.
United Nations Peace Envoy, Dr. Iftikhar Ahmed Ayaz, spoke of his personal insight into the work done by Scientology around the world. "It is my personal belief," he said "this Church can restore what this world has lately lost — namely, much of the dignity and respect with which it was created."
The Church's new home is an 1866 Italian-styled Victorian landmark designed by architect Edward l'Anson for the British and Foreign Bible Society. Redevelopment in the mid-80s transformed it into a fully functioning modern office facility that served British Petroleum for two decades. The stunning period staircase and double-height entrance hall have been restored to create a welcoming and elegant atmosphere for parishioners and visitors.
Beyond the aesthetics of the building itself, Mr. Miscavige spoke of the role of the programs that will roll out from within the London church's walls: "Our gift of literacy to disadvantaged children; restoring self-respect to those who've gone astray; easing suffering; eradicating racial prejudice; and, repairing the bonds that bind man together.
"This new church packs the full body of L Ron Hubbard's technologies as derived from the greater well of Scientology knowledge," said Mr. Miscavige, "and, as such, it provides the full gamut of Scientology activities for the betterment of mankind."