Church of Scientology in Columbus moves to bigger home on Northwest Side

The Columbus Dispatch/November 18, 2019

By Danae King

The Church of Scientology opened a church this month on Dublin Road on the Northwest Side that’s more than 2.5 times larger than its Downtown building. The new church features a chapel, cafe, a drug detoxification center, 24 counseling rooms and more.

Local Scientologists worked for more than a decade to open a larger church in Columbus. Their dreams became a reality this month when the Church of Scientology Central Ohio opened its new location at 1266 Dublin Road on the Northwest Side.

“This is really our dream. It’s the culmination of a lot of people who wouldn’t give up and wouldn’t quit,” member Neal Oxman said.

The 69-year-old Pickerington resident met a group of other members at the new center Thursday evening to plan a program.

“This is a bonanza,” he said of the 50,000-square-foot church, which features a number of amenities, including a chapel, a drug detoxification center, a bookstore, a public information center to introduce people to Scientology, and 24 rooms for one-on-one spiritual counseling or auditing.

The church also has two conference rooms, two seminar rooms, administrative offices and a training center with 12 classrooms for religious counselors, called auditors.

The church used to be the Columbus headquarters of Time Warner Cable and is more than 2.5 times larger than the church’s previous location at 30 N. High St. Downtown, which had 18,700 square feet. The church moved because it needed more space, church officials said.

“We are growing; it’s an expansion,” said Nick Banks, a church spokesman. “It does enable us to provide all different services and also accommodate more people, because we needed that.”

The church bought the building and 5-acre plot on Dublin Road in April 2008 for $2.8 million, according to the Franklin County auditor’s website. Berger said renovations began in September 2018.

According to a January 2010 Dispatch article, Scientologists had hoped to open the building that fall. However, the church was delayed by the “immense amount of work” that went into the renovation, Bari Berger, a spokeswoman, said in an email.

“This involved architectural design and planning, extensive construction and renovations, interior decoration and all of the details required to adapt the building perfectly to our needs and to make this Scientology Church a truly ideal home for its parishioners and the community,” she said.

Berger would not say how much the renovations cost, but she said donations by members paid for them.

Local Scientologists “wanted a facility that would enable their church to serve as a home for the entire community,” Berger said in a statement.

Scientology is a religion based on helping followers achieve “true spiritual enlightenment” through courses, counseling and study, according to the church.

“How can we help one person enjoy life more?” Oxman said. “That person then goes out and has a positive influence.”

There had been a Church of Scientology in various Downtown locations since 1966, Berger said.

Just inside the new building’s door are 16 TV screens, each in a little alcove in the lobby. The screens all show videos on aspects of Scientology, allowing people to take a self-guided tour and learn about the religion, its founder, L. Ron Hubbard, and its humanitarian efforts, Banks said.

The center is open from 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Berger said.

It employs 110, she said, and can accommodate several hundred people each week for gatherings, religious counseling, study and seminars,

She couldn’t say how many Scientologists use its centers, just that thousands have been affiliated with the local church.

Oxman has been practicing Scientology since 1980, when a friend introduced him to it.

“It started me on this road of self-improvement and exploration across a lot of areas, really,” he said. “I’ve been able to grow as an individual because the more I learn about life, the more I learn about me.

“That’s why I’m still involved with it after 39 years,” Oxman said.

And he’s still improving, he said.

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