By Stephanie Green and Elizabeth Glover (Washington Times, 3 November 2009)
The Church of Scientology hosted a “blessing and opening ceremony” of its new building at 1424 16th St. NW. over the weekend, causing traffic delays and scores of curious passers-by to stop and gawk. Many of those curious Georges may have been hoping for a glimpse of one of the church’s many celebrity members, such as Tom Cruise, John Travolta and Fox News anchor Greta Van Susteren, but were deterred thanks to a large plastic barricade.
According to Sylvia Stanard, a public-affairs director for the church, Academy Award-nominated actress Anne Archer (for “Fatal Attraction”) was the only Hollywood-type church member in attendance. However, Miss Stanard says, it’s “very possible” Mr. Cruise and Mr. Travolta may stop by the new 50,000-square-foot structure, which cost the church more than $18 million to purchase and renovate.
Chairman of the Board of the Religious Technology Center David Miscavige, a close friend of Mr. Cruise’s, officiated at the ceremony, which was attended by about 3,000 invitation-only guests, including Rep. Brad Sherman, California Democrat, who is not a church member “but supports the human rights work the church is doing all over the world,” Miss Stanard says.
She further explains that the building at 1701 20th St. NW, known to Scientologists as the “founding church” because it was the original church opened by the late L. Ron Hubbard in 1955, will remain open for some services but will be used mainly for administrative purposes.
The new church had to be built, she says, “because of our growing membership. We were literally busting at the seams.”