Scientologist Sandra Richmond writes about what the new Church of Scientology of the Valley means to her. Published courtesy of STAND (Scientologists Taking Action Against Discrimination).
Have you ever been proud of some special achievement in your life? Perhaps it was something you did on your own, or perhaps you worked with others to bring a project to fruition.
I experienced an immense sense of accomplishment when I joined other parishioners, community leaders and friends to celebrate the grand opening of the new Ideal Church of Scientology of the Valley in North Hollywood. This is the largest such Scientology Church in the United States at 95,000 stunning square feet, comprised of a chapel that seats 1,200, a spacious bookstore, many course rooms, a charming café and a heart-warming child care and tutoring center. There is even a playground and plenty of convenient parking.
We Church members and interested allies stood 5,000 strong listening to local leaders thank us for our volunteer work and contributions to the community.
I became a member of this Church to find personal relief, learn communication skills, and build better relationships with friends, family, and workmates. But I found so much more.
I found a group of individuals with phenomenal integrity. Funny enough, you couldn’t call us “like-minded,” because the members of this group are so varied it would astound you; Scientologists hail from all countries, all ethnicities and all religions—yes, all religions. Our religion is an applied religious technology. We have tools that we can use to better our lives and help us affirm whatever religious beliefs we treasure.For example, one amazing little booklet written by L. Ron Hubbard has calmed the waters of a frantic and unpredictable world. It’s The Way to Happiness. Tiny enough to carry in a purse, with 21 common-sense precepts for better living, it has been a fabulous tool for bringing peace to turbulent turfs. In the words of a Baptist Bishop who spoke at the Valley grand opening:
“I saw that The Way to Happiness was parallel with God’s word, and it was then that I realized: here is the tool to help my people and help my communities.”
He told members of his congregation to take one precept a day and work on it and at the end of 21 days, they would see a big change in their lives. He announced there hasn’t been a homicide in his community for the three years that he has been using The Way to Happiness.
I felt pride in my group when I heard a story from a Los Angeles education leader who also took to the podium that day to share the effectiveness of our study programs that teach children how to learn:
“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. 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.”
After a number of these emotional speeches, the ribbon was cut, and we toured our massive new building. But it was hard to get around, there were thousands of us! It was a crush of enthusiastic, happy, hopeful people.
I try to judge my daily actions by whether they matter, help others, and, ultimately, by the metric: “Will what I did today make me smile when I’m old?” That is why I am proud to call myself a Scientologist. I am smiling now and will be then, too.