The celebration marking Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard’s hundredth birthday (March 13, 1911) began Saturday evening, March 12, with a momentous Centennial Event including a two-hour biographical presentation of the Founder’s life. It was attended by more than 6,000 in Clearwater, Florida.
The following day, Sunday, March 13, thousands of Scientologists next gathered for a Grand Opening ceremony to dedicate the Church of Scientology of Tampa in its new home, the landmark Ybor Square. The new Tampa Church was made necessary by a fourfold growth in Tampa’s Scientology congregation over the past decade.
The new home for the Church of Scientology Tampa stands in the heart of Ybor City. Registered as a historical landmark, the Church meticulously restored the 88,000-square-foot facility.
The 88,000-square-foot Church houses a Public Information Center presenting the beliefs and practices of Scientology, including the life of its Founder. The Information Center further presents an overview of all Church-sponsored humanitarian programs, including its initiatives for Human Rights, drug education and prevention, literacy and learning centers, as well as its world-famed Volunteer Minister program providing disaster relief and indiscriminate help.The Public Information Center also includes multimediadisplays with nearly 500 documentary films.
Ybor Square is a designated National Historic Landmark. Originally built in the late 1880s by city father Vincente Ybor, the complex of three buildings served as the “cigar capital of the world” at the turn of the 19th century. In making Ybor Square its home, the Church has meticulously restored the historic site. It features period artifacts, including an original tobacco press, original embossed tin panel ceilings and original wrought iron steps at the entrance. Also preserved is the building’s “lectern,” the wooden platform from which “readers” read to workers to both entertain and educate.
At the Grand Opening ribbon-cutting ceremony, Church Executive Director, Lynn Irons, reflected on the significance of the new Tampa Church and the historically ethnic community it serves:
Mr. David Miscavige, Chairman of the Board of Religious Technology Center and ecclesiastical leader of the Scientology religion dedicated the new Church of Scientology of Tampa in honor of Founder L. Ron Hubbard’s Centennial year.
“The Cuban, Spanish, Italian, Jewish and German populations who settled here all thrived—thanks to the creation of Mutual Aid Societies. These societies were created by immigrants for immigrants. And it is in the same proud tradition of service to the community that we open this Church of Scientology today, in Ybor City.” Mr. Irons went on to say, “We bring the infinite value of L. Ron Hubbard’s priceless discoveries and technologies to improve the community and the human condition. Accordingly, we are very proud to expand in Ybor and in Tampa.”
Officially dedicating the building was Mr. David Miscavige, Chairman of the Board Religious Technology Center and ecclesiastical leader of the Scientology religion. In addressing the assembly, Mr. Miscavige placed the occasion in historical perspective for the worldwide religion:
“Unlike any other Scientology Church on Earth, this Church stands in the shadow of our spiritual headquarters in Clearwater. And with that comes another responsibility. For in the coming year, you will, indeed, see the ribbon falling on our new spiritual Mecca. And consequently, you’ll then see an unprecedented number of Scientologists arriving in Clearwater from virtually every country on Earth. As a matter of fact, coming soon to your neighborhood is the whole face of Scientology: Russians and Hungarians; Italians, French and Germans; Australians, Venezuelans, South Africans and Mexicans—not to mention Vietnamese, Taiwanese and Chinese. And they're all going to want to see what now marks Tampa as a center for Spiritual Freedom and Greatness.”
Mr. Miscavige concluded his address by officially dedicating the building to the Church’s Founder, L. Ron Hubbard.