East Grinstead, United Kingdom
GRAND WEEKEND OF CELEBRATION HIGHLIGHTS MONUMENTAL YEAR OF IAS ACCOMPLISHMENT
October 7, 2016
Expansion and accomplishment were in the spotlight during a weekend of festivities and fanfare that heralded 12 months of worldwide impact in the name of the International Association of Scientologists (IAS).
In opening ceremonies that saw a bagpipe salute to the backdrop of a setting sun, members and guests of the International Association of Scientologists from 65 nations descended upon the historic Saint Hill, the home of Scientology Founder L. Ron Hubbard, for an electrifying weekend that marks the anniversary of a legacy—one born 32 years ago on the grounds of Saint Hill, where the IAS was first formed.
The celebratory event spanned three days and nights packed full of recognition, reunion and fellowship all in honor of the IAS legacy, forged in the desire to take a stand for social justice, human rights and a world without war or crime, and tempered in a commitment to guarantee that mankind can attain the total freedom he is striving for. Those attending comprised members of the IAS hailing from across six continents, united in a belief that the empowerment of communities, cities, and entire populations is possible.
As autumnal winds swept the rolling downs, well-dressed attendees from across the globe entered the Manor drive to greet family, friends and new acquaintances. By 7:00 p.m. on Friday, the crowd of thousands were gathered in the Grand Marquee for the weekend’s centerpiece event.
“Welcome to the glory of the IAS,” said David Miscavige, the ecclesiastical leader of the Scientology religion. “While for that matter, welcome to a glory surpassing any glory since we first pledged ourselves to mankind, and so, to hold these beliefs as self-evident—that whoever infringes on the rights of one, infringes on the rights of all; that those at the back of humanity’s line keep everyone waiting at freedom’s door; and, a failure to salute the lowest human being is a failure to salute humankind. But, in the same breath, we also pledged to recognize the magic in every living thing and thus, the majesty of the IAS. While beyond even that, let it be said you don’t make that kind of pledge unless you can live up to it, which, of course, we can. And, of which, you will be totally certain before this night is done.”
Over the course of three hours, Mr. Miscavige, Chairman of the Board Religious Technology Center, detailed 12 months of achievement and humanitarian action.
Chief among those accomplishments are two outstanding IAS-sponsored facilities that opened their doors this year: The Church of Scientology and Community Center for Harlem, New York held a grand opening ceremony in July on Harlem’s legendary 125th Street. Altogether, the two buildings total 66,000 square feet and stand as a beacon for community engagement in East Harlem.
In September, the Church’s year-long expansion was crowned by an all-new spiritual headquarters for the Asia Pacific region in Sydney, Australia. The stunning new 145,000-square-foot Advanced Organization is the Church’s largest spiritual center outside of the United States, standing among 900 acres of national forest and just ten minutes from Sydney’s city center. Attendees were presented highlights of ribbon-cutting ceremonies for both new facilities, featuring moving speeches by local and national dignitaries honoring the occasion.
Mr. Miscavige also announced the historic upcoming opening of a Church of Scientology National Affairs Office for Ireland, located within the iconic Merrion Square in Dublin at the core of the city. The facility is committed to the unqualified delivery of Scientology-supported social programs on the Emerald Isle.
Friday evening’s event traversed the panoply of humanitarian accomplishment over the past year, and centered upon the renowned IAS-sponsored initiatives, beginning with striking accounts of efforts to eradicate abuses in the field of mental health through the Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR). Stirring stories emerged as the night unfolded, showcasing Drug-Free World and its incisive Truth About Drugs education program; United for Human Rights, fanning the flame of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; The Way to Happiness, restoring basic decency and brotherhood among mankind through its 21 universal moral precepts; and the call of need answered by Scientology Volunteer Ministers, assisting in matters ranging from everyday strife to devastating natural disasters. Each program was presented as a tour de force, showing the impact on individual lives wherever they occur, which is everywhere.
- United for Human Rights held awareness rallies and events in honor of the International Day of Human Rights in more than 100 cities.
- Drug-Free World provided vital drug education to assist more than 125,000 Boy Scouts of America to meet the requirements and achieve their Second Class rank.
- Venezuela’s resort island of Margarita experienced the power of The Way to Happiness when national police adopted the booklet's 21 precepts and in turn circulated 180,000 copies, contributing to a 65 percent drop in serious crime.
- Scientology Volunteer Ministers collectively brought one-on-one help to over three million people, including victims directly affected by natural disasters.
Punctuating the evening’s celebration, were three stellar examples of Scientologists displaying outstanding humanitarian commitment. Their achievements were recognized with the 2016 IAS Freedom Medal:
- Shelley Wilkins, of Australia, set about uncloaking violations in the field of mental health as the National Director of CCHR. Through the use of Australia’s Freedom of Information Act she created a media firestorm exposing misappropriations, conflict of interest, and adverse reactions of minors to pharmaceuticals. Her tenacious pursuit of wrong-doing prompted reforms to safeguard the future of Australian youth through a governmental ban on sterilization and electroshock of children.
- Ben and Meghan Fialkoff, a father-daughter team from New York City, brought The Truth About Drugs program to at-risk youth across a citywide network of community centers and schools. They forged better than one hundred partnerships with groups including the New York Police Department School Safety Officers, helping generate the first drug usage drop among teens in more than a decade. Ben and Meghan further extended their drug education actions to the Dominican Republic, Haiti and El Salvador, through which traffickers smuggle drugs into the U.S. All told, they have received more than 30 awards and recognitions.
- Sandra and Felipe Poveda, a Colombian brother-sister team, recognized their nation’s struggles in facing up to such horrors as terrorism, kidnapping, extortion and the killing of innocent civilians in the country’s civil war. They made it their mission to deliver a United for Human Rights education campaign to the Colombian armed forces. The high-risk campaign created workshops and seminars for soldiers and officers across every military branch, resulting in more than 300,000 servicemen embracing the 30 articles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and helping transform human rights in that nation.
Overnight the Grand Marquee was transformed to host the IAS Patrons Ball. The dazzling black-tie evening is held annually in recognition of the newest Patrons and their commitment to supporting the humanitarian activities and organizations that are the hallmark of the International Association of Scientologists.
On the third and final night, the Saint Hill Charity Concert capped the weekend’s festivities. Some 1,500 local residents attended the annual event, which continues a tradition begun by L. Ron Hubbard himself in support of community organizations in East Grinstead. Four local charities were honored throughout the evening of music and dance and awarded vital funding to assist in their community work over the year ahead.
The IAS, a membership organization open to all Scientologists from all nations, was formed in 1984. The purpose of the IAS is to unite, advance, support and protect the Scientology religion and Scientologists in every part of the world so as to achieve the Aims of Scientology as originated by L. Ron Hubbard: “A civilization without insanity, without criminals and without war, where the able can prosper and honest beings can have rights, and where Man is free to rise to greater heights.”