Scientology Churches, Missions and Groups
In 1954 the first Church of Scientology was founded by Scientologists in Los Angeles, California. This was at the time a grass-roots movement that had exploded in size overnight; organizing as a formal religious body was its natural course.
The church has grown considerably from its founding in 1954. Today there are more than 3,200 churches, missions and groups in 154 countries.
The churches are organized in a hierarchical manner internationally with the mother church, the Church of Scientology International, in Los Angeles. The smallest organization in Scientology is a group, which is simply a number of Scientologists who meet regularly for purposes of union and study; it might vary in size between five and thirty members. A mission is a group that has been recognized by the mother church, and has facilities to perform regular church services with at least one ordained minister and a small staff. A mission is responsible only for its own parishioners. A church is larger in size; for instance the Boston Church has approximately five thousand members, has been recognized by the mother church, and geographically is responsible for its own parishioners and any missions or group it forms. Each church is autonomous, but tithes are sent to the mother church, and each church in turn receives assistance and direction. In order to facilitate managing an international organization, each continent has a central church of advanced religious studies, training staff persons, and relaying communications.
Excerpted from An Encyclopedia of Religions in the United States
edited by William B. Williamson, 1992
The Crossroad Publishing Company
370 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10017
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