Monday, January 18, 2010

Haitian Nationals Learn Volunteer Ministers Skills--Travel to Haiti to Help

I heard that the Church of Scientology of Miami contacted a Haitian Church in Miami after Tuesday's earthquake. They trained a corps of the parishioners of that church in basic Scientology Volunteer Ministers technology so they can help their countrymen, and then on Monday a dozen or so of these new VMs were flown into Haiti to join up with the team that landed on Sunday. So far the 12 Haitian VMs are still in Santa Domingo, making their way to Haiti. This is a photo of them boarding the airplane in Miami this morning, courtesy of the Scientology Volunteer Ministers blog.

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Friday, January 15, 2010

The Scientology Volunteer Ministers Disaster Response Coordinator has put out a call for Volunteer Ministers to travel to Haiti, in response to the January 12, 2010, magnitude 7.0 earthquake. Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive estimates the death toll from the earthquake, which destroyed most of the Capital City of Port-au-Prince, could reach hundreds of thousands. Lack of resources and decimated infrastructure in Haiti, the least-developed country in the Western Hemisphere and one of the poorest in the world according to the US State Department, is severely hampering the search and rescue operation and care for the survivors.

For information on how to join the Volunteer Ministers team in Haiti or to sponsor a volunteer to go contact the Volunteer Ministers Disaster Response Coordinator at vm@volunteerministers.org

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Pasadena Star News

Scientology starts renovation work on Braley Building, vacant since 2006

PASADENA - Renovation has finally started on the historic Braley Building in the heart of Old Pasadena, where it sat empty since being bought by the Church of Scientology in 2006.

Church officials say it will be ready to open this summer.

"They are taking out the insides, ready for renovation," church spokeswoman Linda Peters said. "We're just gearing up for the new year, ready to rock and roll, and it's going to go pretty fast."

Almost immediately after the church bought the imposing 50,800-square-foot building at 35 S. Raymond Ave. officials bought out or evicted 22 small business tenants, including an antiques mall and a popular restaurant.

Since then, city officials and preservationists have sounded the alarm over the building's vacant and deteriorating condition, tattered awnings and possible safety issues.

Now, although putting a church in the heart of the city's prime retail and dining district wasn't universally popular, Old Pasadena Management District President Steve Mulheim said everyone is "thrilled" to see progress on the building.

"We're happy to see it moving along," Mulheim said. "Certainly the activity will help generate some traffic for other businesses as well. For any sort of dining and retail destination, foot traffic is a big key, and we're happy to have more activity than less."

People in Pasadena "are going to be delighted" with the result, church spokeswoman Wendy Beccaccini said. "We have several other historic buildings opened, and we really work hard at preserving their integrity as buildings."
Photo Gallery

Scientlogists Convert Braley Building
(SGVN/Staff photos by Walt Mancini)

The church is expected to serve about 10,000 Scientologists from the entire San Gabriel Valley and from Sunland/Tujunga to the Inland Empire and San Bernardino.

And it it won't attract them only on Sundays, Beccaccini said.

"It's not like an ordinary Christian church. It's actually quite a lot different. It will be a seven-days-a-week place," Beccaccini said.

Plans for the main floor include an information center, to include displays on Scientology's religion and social programs, plus film and conference rooms, seminar spaces and a chapel/auditorium available to the community. There are also plans for a bookstore and cafe. The upper floors will have counselling rooms, offices and a sauna used in the Scientology "detoxification" program, Beccaccini said.

"Having a building like this, it will be marvellous to make spaces available to the community, share it with other nonprofits...and the community," she said. "We always have intended to make this a place where people want to come."

The Braley Building, built as a bicycle store in 1906, was bought with contributions from "1,400 or 1,500" local Scientologists, who have now given title to the church, officials said. The $6.5 million to $7 million needed for the interior conversion and exterior restoration also will be covered by member donations.

Pasadena's Planning Manager John Poindexter said all the permits were in place for the interior demolition and only permits for "minor" exterior changes remain to be issued.

The new church was difficult to classify for planning purposes but needed a "change of use" permit from office building, Poindexter said.

"It isn't only a Sunday church. It's more of a counselling center, in terms of how it functions," he said. "And the parking requirements had different impacts on neighbors."

Poindexter said at the moment the church is leasing off-site parking at Parsons.

The church plans to provide introductory and parishioner services at the new church daily, until 9:30 p.m. weekdays and weekends until 6 p.m.

"Our new beautiful church is a whole new expansion for us and it is going to be a wonderful community asset," said Eden Stein, president of the Pasadena Church of Scientology, established in 1980. "We are greatly looking forward to sharing it."

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Friday, January 01, 2010

New Issue of Freedom Magazine!

What happens when a newspaper fails to serve the community? After Freedom published its in-depth report on the St. Petersburg Times last summer, a number of journalists formerly associated with the Times came forward. They related incidents at the Times which revealed serious violations of journalism ethics.

Find out more about:
- Steal, Bribe and Spy, a background report about the St. Petersburg Times
- Scientology in Clearwater - What happens when an independent journalist takes an objective look at St. Petersburg Times coverage of the Church of Scientology?
- and more...at FreedomMag.org

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