Mark Hansel of the Cincinnati Inquirer penned this story on the new Church of Scientology, moving across the river from Cincinnati, Ohio, to Florence, Kentucky.
The Church of Scientology will open a new regional facility next month in Florence.
The controversial church has scheduled a grand opening event on Saturday, Feb. 11, at the church, 283 Main St., in a building previously occupied by the Florence Baptist Church.
Nick Banks, a spokesman for the Church of Scientology, said the Florence site was chosen for a number of reasons.
“We needed a building in the 50,000-square-foot range, and this beautiful former Baptist Church in Florence is just perfect,” Banks said. “The square footage is definitely adequate for our purposes, there is ample parking and it’s accessible to our parishioners from all around Greater Cincinnati and the wider five-state area we serve.”
The group purchased the building from Florence Baptist Church, which relocated to a new facility on Mt. Zion Road, for $1.64 million in June 2009. Renovation began in April of last year and costs were estimated at $6.5 million, according to documents submitted to the Boone County Building Department.
“The work has included a full renovation of the interiors including extensive structural work needed to adapt the entire building for our use,” Banks said. “We are also doing a complete upgrade of the interior, including all new HVAC, electrical and plumbing, and new interior finishes.”
The building includes three floors plus one partial floor and an attic. The 7,426-square-foot chapel, which seats more than 600, will be located on the second floor.
The executive director of the new facility, which will be called the Church of Scientology of Greater Cincinnati, is the Rev. Jeanie Sonenfild.
Banks said the building will serve as more than just a place of worship.
“These churches are established for our parishioners to practice their religion as well as to serve their surrounding communities,” Banks said.
Outreach efforts include the Say No to Drugs, Say Yes to Life program, a human rights education campaign and a volunteer minister program.
The Scientology religion, known for some of its high-profile celebrity members, was founded by author and philosopher L. Ron Hubbard and the first Church of Scientology was formed in Los Angeles in 1954. The religion has since expanded to more than 9,000 churches, missions and affiliated groups, with members in 165 countries.