by Philip Haldiman – Jun. 29, 2012 09:56 AM
The Republic | azcentral.com
Scientology’s newest church has opened to the public in Arcadia.
Officials with the Church of Scientology Ideal Organization of Phoenix say the 45,000-square-foot complex is part of a global expansion that began about five years ago.
Officials say the church has opened three other Ideal Organizations in cities throughout the Southwest in the past month. Seven more are scheduled to open this year.
The church occupies the former Fairmount Square office site, 3845 N. 44th St., Phoenix.
The remodel began in February.
The organization held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Saturday. Speakers included Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton; Paul Eppinger, executive director of Arizona Interfaith Movement; and Tony Malaj, executive director of support services for the Higley Unified School District, who spoke about the church’s literacy and study programs.
Nick Banks, a spokesman with the church, said the new complex is part of a plan to provide more comprehensive services to its parishioners and the public.
“The church will provide services to Scientologists, and act as a home and meeting ground for the entire community,” Banks said.
The 2-acre complex has several amenities available to the public, including a chapel, multiple seminar rooms and classrooms, and a public-information center, where residents can learn about Scientology and its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, a science-fiction writer who published the self-help book “Dianetics: The Modern Science of Mental Health.”
Officials with the church tout Hubbard’s time in Phoenix as Scientology’s formative years, when he authored several of the religion’s seminal works and delivered hundreds of lectures.
He lived about a mile north of the new complex from 1952 to 1955.
The church estimates there are 5,000 to 6,000 members in Arizona, where it has locations in downtown Phoenix and Tucson. The Phoenix site, 1002 N. Third St., was established in 1974.