Scientology plans new center

Ex-cable building will transform into an 'ideal church'

The Columbus Dispatch/January 15, 2010

This year, Columbus is set to join a worldwide push in the Church of Scientology to improve its buildings and increase its reach.

The Church of Scientology of Central Ohio has existed in Columbus for 30 years in various Downtown locations. Leaders plan to move the church from its current spot at 30 N. High St. to the former Time Warner building at 1266 Dublin Rd. on the Northwest Side.

The new church will classify as an "Ideal Church of Scientology."

That means the premises' design is ideal for the seven-days-a-week services Scientology provides, Wendy Beccaccini, a spokeswoman for the international church, said via e-mail.

In the past six years, 15 ideal churches have opened around the world.

The one on Dublin Road is to be "an island of sanity in Columbus," said Frank Dean, a spokesman for the local church.

It will further the belief that, through Scientology, "the goals man has had for thousands of years can be realized."

Local Scientologists have purchased the building for $3.25 million, and the city has approved the zoning variance so it can be used for religious services.

Soon, a massive renovation will begin in which the building will be gutted and reconfigured, Dean said. He said the church should open in the fall, although it isn't clear exactly when work will begin.

The local church has raised about $500,000 of the $3 million to $4 million needed for the renovation, Dean said.

The Church of Scientology, based in Clearwater, Fla., will not help fund the local project, he said.

Central Ohio is home to about 1,000 Scientologists.

The new church will have a public area for people who want to learn more about Scientology. It will offer courses in topics such as self-improvement, dealing with negative people and communication skills.

A large chapel will seat 268 for Sunday services. The building plans also include a cafe and a "purification facility" where people with drugs in their systems can detoxify.

Scientologists do not use recreational or psychiatric drugs.

The building will contain about 20 auditing rooms. Auditing is a type of counseling in which Scientologists are taught they can uncover and then overcome unwanted emotions and past painful experiences that hinder them.

Another "ideal" church is planned for the Cincinnati area.

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