It’s early Thursday evening in downtown Clearwater; at the corner of Cleveland and Fort Harrison, visitors pass through the stately portico and enter the gleaming brass and glass doors of the Scientology Information Center.
“People have questions about Scientology. They want to know what Scientology is and how it can help them,” said Amber Skjelset, the Center’s manager. Answering those questions and providing that knowledge is what the Scientology Information Center has been all about since opening in July 2015.
The Center resides in the grand lobby of the magnificently restored 1918 Clearwater Building, a historical city landmark. Its gallery of exhibits contains more than 300 video presentations as well as publications on the fundamentals of Dianetics and Scientology; the life of Founder L. Ron Hubbard; and the ever-growing network of Scientology Churches, groups and humanitarian programs.
More than 9,200 visitors have toured the Center in the last year, from the Tampa Bay area, up and down Florida, across the U.S. and, as the Clearwater/St. Pete area is a major tourist attraction, 31 additional countries.
The Center has also hosted more than 50 community receptions, not to mention concerts in honor of Mother’s Day, The International Day of Happiness and Earth Day—to name a few.
Among those from the Tampa Bay area exploring the Center’s information resources are religious studies students from high schools, entire classes from colleges, as well as civic leaders and social groups with members of all ages. “Many local guests have returned numerous times to continue learning or to bring their own friends and family,” said Skjelset.
Such is the example of Mark Ruff and Trisha Williams, who are originally from New Hampshire and moved to Florida to get a new start in life. One day, they passed by the Center and stopped in—and then again, and again.
“Now we’re learning tools to help everyday people find solutions to problems in life and I really like that,” said Mark. “Before, I didn’t really care about people. Now, all I want to do is help others.”