Scientologists Celebrate 7th Anniversary of Their Cathedral in Clearwater, Florida by Derek Welch
What began as one 340-foot vessel in the Caribbean moved to land in 1975 and has expanded to a complex of more than 50 buildings in downtown Clearwater. Florida. In November 2013, the religion’s ecclesiastical leader, David Miscavige, dedicated the largest and most prominent of them—the Flag Building.
November 17 marked the 7th anniversary of the dedication of the Flag Building in Clearwater, Florida.
The word Flag in its title comes from the late 1960s and early 1970s when Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard lived and carried out his research aboard the Apollo. This was the flagship of a fleet of ships operated by the Sea Organization, the religious order comprised of the church’s most dedicated members. It was on this ship that Mr. Hubbard furthered his research and exploration into the nature of Man, the spirit and life. He also made and documented administrative breakthroughs to ensure the standard delivery of the technology at any Scientology Church, Mission or group.
On November 17, 2013, more than 10,000 Scientologists and their guests celebrated the building’s dedication, led by the religion’s ecclesiastical leader David Miscavige. This marked the finale of a weekend of briefings—the largest convocation in Scientology history.
For the two previous days, Mr. Miscavige briefed those attending on a six-month intensive training program of 1,100 senior ecclesiastical staff from Scientology Churches across 28 countries and the technical breakthroughs they were now ready to deliver in every Scientology Church in the world.
The last day of briefings consisted of a description of services only available at the Flag Building itself including one once described by Mr. Hubbard as “high-power rundowns which enter realms of the tech never before approached.”
“My fellow Scientologists.” said Mr. Miscavige as he directed the cutting of the massive red ribbon surrounding the Flag Building, “the best on the planet now awaits you. For the doors to your Flag Building are open and I officially invite you to cross the threshold to a whole new world.”
On entering the building, visitors arrive in a 40-foot-high, three-story Grand Atrium that spans almost the length of an entire city block replete with travertine columns, walls, floors and staircase and a series of bronze sculptures representing the fundamental concepts of Dianetics and Scientology. At its entrance is carved the words: “You are a spirit. You are your own soul. You are not mortal. You can be free.”
In the Grand Chapel, also on the ground floor, are eight multicolored 11-foot-high stained glass windows composed of 1,900 individual pieces of German hand-rolled glass and traditional leading—each window etched with one of The Factors, L. Ron Hubbard’s 1954 summation on the human spirit and its relationship to the material universe.
But the main reason Scientologists from around the world have visited Flag for the past 45 years and continue to do so in ever-increasing numbers is for the religious services.
In 1975, with more and more Scientologists wishing to participate in services only available on the flagship—far more than could comfortably be accommodated aboard a 340-foot vessel—the personnel and services of the Apollo moved to a “land base” in Clearwater, Florida, which became known as the “Flag Land Base.”
The 377,000-square-foot building covers an entire city block. It is the largest and most prominent Scientology facility in downtown Clearwater. Today, the Flag Land Base, which consisted of two buildings in 1975, has grown to a complex of more than 50 buildings over a nine-mile grid.