The work of the Church of Scientology is basically carried out in the numerous missions and churches now found around the world. These organizations are designed to introduce people to Scientology. Missions (of which there were approximately 480 in 2009) assist people who are ready to start up the Bridge and encourage them to continue their efforts at the nearest local church of Scientology. Local churches (of which there were 175 in 2009) assist members with both the counseling (auditing) and class work that will allow them to reach the state of Clear, and provide training and the ordination for those who wish to enter the ministry.
Both missions and local churches are autonomous corporations, locally governed, but internally structured in line with the organizational format developed by L. Ron Hubbard. They are also licensed by the Religious Technology Center to use the Scientology materials, trademarks, and copyrights. Local churches are mandated to follow the church's spiritual technology in such a way that church members can be confident that they are receiving the same uniform delivery of training and auditing at whatever church or mission they attend.
The twelve Celebrity Centers are also local churches of Scientology. Hubbard initiated an effort to reach out to the artistic community in southern California and elsewhere, and a number of celebrities have been attracted to the church. It is the church's belief that artists have a special role to play in utilizing their skills to elevate culture, and the church has a special role to assist artists in improving their ability to communicate with the public. Celebrity Centers are equipped to offer all of the course work and auditing of any other local church of Scientology.
The Saint Hill Organizations function as Scientology's colleges/seminaries. After receiving their basic training at the local church, auditors (all of whom are ministers) may enroll at one of the three Saint Hill Organizations, which they attend in blocks of time from three months to a year. Currently, Saint Hill Orgs can be found in the United States (Los Angeles), Australia (Sydney), and England (East Grinstead).
Those church members who wish to receive training beyond the state of Clear, proceeding to Operating Thetan levels (OT), attend one of the four Advanced Organizations, now located in Los Angeles, Sydney, East Grinstead, and Copenhagen, Denmark. The Advanced Organizations provide OT Levels I-V auditing/coursework for members and also have facilities to assist auditors with the equivalent of postgraduate training in counseling. The most advanced Scientology course work is taken at the Flag Service Organization and the Flag Ship Service Organization. The Flag Service Organization, located in Clearwater, Florida, offers the auditing and course work for OT VI and OT VII as well as a variety of specialized auditing and classes for particular concerns. The Foundation Church of Scientology/Flag Ship Service Organization, which provides the highest level of Scientology training, is currently located aboard the Freewinds, a 450-foot ship based in Curaçao.
Since 1981, all of the churches and Scientology organizations have been brought together under the Church of Scientology International (CSI). CSI provides a visible point of unity and guidance for the individual churches, especially in the area of applying Hubbard's teaching and technology in a uniform fashion. Besides coordinating church growth, CSI has charge of a variety of specialized tasks from handling public relations and overseeing legal affairs to supervising the translation of Scientology texts into different languages.
The highest ecclesiastical structure in the Church of Scientology is the Religious Technology Center, based in southern California. Just as other religious groups seek to maintain orthodoxy, Scientology seeks a high level of uniformity in the application of the processes (including auditing) that it offers to members, what it terms the "spiritual technology." The Religious Technology Center (RTC) has been assigned the task of seeing that the technology is delivered as intended, and it exercises its authority as the formal owner of all Dianetics/Scinentology trademarks and copyrights. The various missions, churches, and other organizations are all autonomous corporations that associate with the larger movement and receive licenses from the RTC to use the church's trademarks, service marks, and copyrights. RTC representatives visit local churches to check on the quality of the services being of¬fered and have the authority to pull the licenses of any church (which would effectively shut it down) in any organization they find that does not meet their standards.
Paralleling the RTC is a little-known additional church organization, the Church of Spiritual Technology (CST), also based in southern California. CST was formed in 1982 to receive the bulk of Hubbard's estate, especially his many writings on Scientology, and to preserve those writings for posterity. The CST staff has taken the preservation mandate very seriously and has overseen the reproduction of all the writings on the most indestructible of materials and placed them in a remote site so they will survive any possible future catastrophe.