JUNE 24, 2019

A gathering of parishioners at the highest levels of Scientology representing their congregations around the world, convenes for an annual voyage applauding a spectacular year of Church expansion.

Call it a celebration, call it a convocation with a cause of Scientologists representing 27 nations—the Maiden Voyage is an anniversary resplendent with history, recognition and revitalization.

The tradition of this annual cruise began in celebration of the Freewinds and her original Maiden Voyage in 1988. And while the azure waters where she cuts her wake may suggest otherwise, this is no standard sightseeing holiday. A weeklong religious retreat at sea, the cruise is a celebration of the highest levels of Scientology, when the most advanced Scientologists from across the globe gather for a midyear review of accomplishments and subsequently set their course for future expansion toward creating a better world.

Mr. David Miscavige, Chairman of the Board Religious Technology Center and ecclesiastical leader of the religion, began a week of captivating events highlighting Scientology advances and achievements around the globe.

Those in attendance are a delegation of ambassadors representing their congregations from Churches spanning six continents. All together they form a dedicated group of Scientologists who are driving expansion of the religion through the founding of new Churches of Scientology in their geographic zones.

So as a brisk breeze stirred through the port of Basseterre on Saturday evening, June 15, and hundreds of locals and dignitaries bid farewell to all aboard, the Freewinds cast off for what was set to be an unforgettable journey.

“In accord with all nautical tradition, tonight’s our night of orientation when we shoot a navigational star and set a course for the week ahead,” began Mr. David Miscavige, ecclesiastical leader of the Scientology religion. “While through the course of this week, you will behold a seismic wave of future Churches of Scientology welling up to proclaim: Let the islands become the sea.”

Nightly major events and briefings of the 31st Maiden Voyage covered a broad and exciting agenda—and all of it in alignment with the expectant atmosphere of expansion.


First port of call in the nights of celebration was the Freewinds herself. The legendary ship combines competence, nautical skill and a humanitarian mission, and the evening showcased her in passionate detail.

To begin, the ship was recognized for impressive seamanship, with a staff of superlative sailors who have steered her to over 440,000 safe miles. Such is her reputation, the International Maritime Organization (IMO) appointed the Freewinds as a training platform to train crew members Caribbean-wide on maritime standards—a distinction it has held since 2007. Yet, the Freewinds is best known as a vessel delivering a humanitarian mission to hundreds of thousands of citizens across the Caribbean isles and beyond.

In testament to that, the evening featured the Freewinds’ Religious Freedom and Peace Congress for Latin America, with spiritual leaders present on behalf of Catholic, Muslim, Eastern Orthodox, Buddhist and Jewish religions among the 15 different denominations that rarely, if ever, convene.

After a welcoming address from Colombia’s Director of Religious Affairs, attendees joined hands in prayer and shortly thereafter walked together from the ship into the Old City of Cartagena to San Pedro Claver Plaza for the signing of an historic interfaith declaration of peace.

Consequently, and after the Congress, each faith representative set about delivering lessons and seminars to their respective congregations and communities across Colombia with Church of Scientology-sponsored initiatives: Truth About Drugs, United for Human Rights and The Way to Happiness. That momentum carried on and over to the Colombian Capitol with a National Forum for Religious Organizations bringing together 400 diverse leaders of faith, legislators and government officials to draft Colombia’s first national policy of religious freedom, guaranteeing the right for every religion to work in harmony.

Such is but a single passage for this humanitarian ship that brings aid wherever she drops anchor. Her legacy was again and newly recognized by officials and dignitaries, including:

  • The Aruba Port Authority, giving heartfelt appreciation: “We will always be grateful for the Freewinds.”
  • The Ministry of Culture for Barbados reflecting on a time-honored partnership: “No one comes close to matching the Freewinds’ commitment to Barbados.”
  • And, the Deputy Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis declaring that, “The Freewinds is making a better future for us all.”

Those remarks and recognitions echoed out across the islands and ports the Freewinds frequents, from Cartagena to Aruba, St. Kitts, Dominica, Barbados and her home of Curaçao. Altogether, the Freewinds has earned over 500 awards, proclamations and recognitions from 52 ports of call to date, for a long-held tradition of service to the Caribbean.


In the wake of Freewinds’ accolades, Mr. Miscavige presented a spirited account of milestone accomplishments by Church parishioners in each geographic zone toward creating new Churches of Scientology. Future Churches featured and on the near horizon include Chicago, Illinois; Ventura, California; Austin, Texas; Columbus, Ohio; and Kansas City, Missouri. And amid the whoops and hollers were the sighs of satisfaction as future dreams came into full view.

Passengers next met in continental teams and even by city—each aligned to the singular purpose of building Churches on behalf of their congregation and community. It was a unique opportunity and what one passenger described as “completely phenomenal, uplifting and inspiring.” Or as another remarked, “This made it very clear where we need to go. It helps to unite the group and get it done together.”

All were further treated to presentations showing diverse Churches from around the world in action. A hallmark of new millennium Churches of Scientology is their civic collaboration on the hard-pressed needs of the local area, thereby becoming a home to their community. Representative examples included the Church of Scientology and Community Centre Dublin, Ireland, where over 70,000 visitors have now come through their doors in barely 18 months; the Advanced Organization UK in East Grinstead, England, where the Saint Hill estate’s 66 acres are the site of hugely popular events including Summertime Swing Concerts, Christmas Celebrations and Easter Egg Hunts attended by the entire community and local officials; and the Advanced Organization of Africa in Johannesburg, South Africa, opened as the first of its kind in 35 years on New Year’s Day 2019, and where the Castle Kyalami is now sacred ground and a site of historic tribal summits.


The next night, guests were treated to a captivating presentation in honor of L. Ron Hubbard—the writer. It was an evening where Mr. Dan Sherman, the LRH Biographer, regaled the audience with excerpts from Mr. Hubbard’s written reflections and personal correspondence with aspiring writers through the 1930s and ’40s.

He further enthralled attendees with on-camera interviews of literary lights who were lucky enough to have crossed Mr. Hubbard’s path or were otherwise touched by his literary legacy.

The opening chapter told of author and editor Philip Klass who recounted how L. Ron Hubbard pitched a story idea to editors entirely off the cuff as they walked to Manhattan’s Grand Central Station. Onboard a train headed for Los Angeles, Mr. Hubbard finished part one of Typewriter in the Sky before Chicago and part two before reaching LA. “Nobody who’s at least partly human could write like that. When the hell did he sleep? When the hell did he eat?” one editor asked incredulously. Typewriter in the Sky remains among the most celebrated tales of the 20th century and “for that novel, he earned his share of paradise,” declared Mr. Klass.

Mr. Sherman next set the scene with a tale centered around esteemed science fiction author and critic Algis Budrys, who shared an unforgettable encounter with Mr. Hubbard at a New York City writers’ convention and as Budrys described, “He [LRH] showed up … and this wave of energy came up the room and splashed against me.” Budrys further spoke of L. Ron Hubbard’s writing and its influence: “If I hadn’t read Final Blackout, I couldn’t have written my first novel. But you cannot imitate Hubbard. He’s too much of an individual. He made a terrific mark on fantasy and science fiction.… He arced across the sky like a comet.”

Bill Widder, yet another renowned author whose prose was shaped by L. Ron Hubbard, further spoke of a life-changing encounter with LRH on the steps of Columbia University and “how there was something about him. I had the feeling, despite the fact that we were surrounded by two thousand people, that I was the only person in the entire universe.” Widder further reflected on Mr. Hubbard’s ability to stretch human capability, meaning “the assurance that almost nothing is, perhaps nothing is, beyond human potential.”

The fourth and final interviewee of the night was best-selling author Dave Wolverton. A former grand prize winner and contest judge of L. Ron Hubbard’s Writers of the Future Contest, Wolverton recognized the success of the competition with former winners going on to sell a combined 60 million copies of fiction and thus the continuing legacy of Mr. Hubbard: “He [LRH] talked about how the artist really inspires a generation. They’re the dreamers who look at the future and therefore help create the future. And I think he was looking for more than just good writers,” Wolverton said. “I think he was looking for people who are ultimately going to make this a better world.”


Passengers aboard for the Maiden Voyage also attended a gala event honoring the International Association of Scientologists (IAS) and its unerring dedication to not only protect and support the religion, but drive forward a battery of humanitarian campaigns designed for a single purpose—to accelerate the betterment of Mankind. They include:

  • The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), battling and uprooting systemic psychiatric abuse across Washington State Hospitals, curbing maltreatment in Transylvanian orphanages and successfully campaigning for the elimination of forced student drugging in Chile.
  • United for Human Rights and Youth for Human Rights, engendering rights adoption and implementation across the island nation of Cabo Verde, spurring rights empowerment with “at-risk citizens” in Washington, DC, and strengthening “voices in the land” who were fighting and subsequently realizing equality in West Africa’s nation of The Gambia.
  • The Foundation for a Drug-Free World, which carried its crusade to counter drug abuse and thereby inspiring a presidential decree against personal carrying and consumption of narcotics in Colombia, partnering with national police to deliver drug awareness seminars across Gauteng, South Africa, and running a drug-free education blitz to half a million fans at Super Bowl 53 in Atlanta, Georgia.
  • And finally, through IAS-supported programs aimed at broad-scale social support with The Way to Happiness restoring a spirit of brotherhood across the European capital of Brussels, Applied Scholastics extending a literacy lifeline to villages all over Timor Leste in the South Pacific, and Narconon drug rehabilitation blazing a trail for drug rehab success across the state of Florida.

  • And with that, a magical week came to a close, a week marked by dreams realized and new ones charted for near horizons fast approaching. All that remained was a “fond farewell” and a “bon voyage” from Mr. Miscavige to all passengers for a new year swimming in possibility. So it was, they launched to land with a renewed sense of purpose, spirit in their steps and a proud knowledge of accomplishment of past and present and, most assuredly, a boundless future.