Scientologists from around the globe embark on the Motor Vessel Freewinds, a Church of Scientology religious retreat, to plan further-reaching expansion and celebrate what was 12 months of unbroken success.
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, July 1, 2018 (Newswire.com) - The guests began arriving at the cruise ship port of call in Bridgetown, Barbados on Friday, June 15, where the gleaming white, nine-deck, 440-foot vessel awaited. By 6:00 p.m. the following afternoon, more than 250 of the world’s most dedicated Scientologists were on the dock or already on board and standing at the rails in the island breeze. The atmosphere was full with anticipation as the Royal Barbados Police Band steel pan drums cut the balmy air and local dignitaries wished all a fond farewell. And as the Freewinds guided her bow from the dock, setting her course seaward bound, a spectacular firework display lit up the Bridgetown sky in honor of her 30th Anniversary.
The Caribbean immediately evokes images of stately cruise liners leisurely gliding from harbor to harbor with holiday revelers enjoying tropical islands, beautiful scenery and calypso music. But while the Freewinds certainly shares features with other luxury ships, including five-star cuisine, beautifully appointed staterooms, classic ocean liner elegance, and passengers undeniably enjoying their West Indies getaway, any other comparison stops there.
“So you ask what it means to attend this OT Summit 2018,” began Mr. David Miscavige, ecclesiastical leader of the Scientology religion. “And, you ask what you would have seen had you sailed every Maiden Voyage for the last thirty years? Well, there’s a long way to tell it, and a short way to tell it. But, either way, the answer is everything.”
And just like that Mr. Miscavige launched a week punctuated with captivating nightly events and briefings covering the legacy of Freewinds’ accomplishment on her Pearl Anniversary and so much more.
The unique week taking place every June on the Freewinds is a convocation where the world’s most dedicated Scientologists convene to review, reflect upon and celebrate yet another year of untold growth and accomplishment for the Church; not to mention plan for future expansion and success in the months and years to come.
And, this Maiden Voyage certainly did not disappoint.
HONORING THE 30-YEAR LEGACY OF A HUMANITARIAN SHIP
First was an evening dedicated to the regal Freewinds herself. And as of this 30th year, her crew boasts a record incomparable in the Caribbean, with over 5,000 years of seafaring experience and a total log of more than 380,000 nautical miles—the equivalent of encircling the world nearly eighteen times over.
In fact, for 365 days a year, the Freewinds charts a course driven by a humanitarian mission for uplifting the people of the Caribbean. Her ship’s crew, in combination with Scientologists and friends, have contributed tens of thousands of hours to humanitarian efforts on the islands she visits, organizing and conducting cultural programs, sponsoring drug prevention, human rights and moral education for island youth, and hosting benefits for a variety of community and charitable organizations.
Indeed, 2018 has seen dignitaries from myriad island nations of the West Indies and the Dutch Caribbean express their appreciation and respect by unveiling four commemorative monuments, each one right on their island’s main harbor entrance seen by up to 300,000 people every day. The event further showcased eleven memorial plaques in honor of the Freewinds—including one presented by the National Police on Colombia’s Caribbean coast at Cartagena. Filmed highlights from these ceremonies were a feature of the evening presentation, as were the following remarks of thanks:
“Thirty years is truly a milestone, and it means the individuals who have passed through the Freewinds and those who are currently serving, have really committed their lives to dedicated service to humanity,” said Dominica’s Minister of Education.
“The fact is, you’re here year in and year out,” the Prime Minister of St. Lucia added. “So you have become an integral part of our society.”
While the Prime Minister of Dominica summed it up like this: “The Freewinds now is synonymous with the Caribbean. In every island… you are highly regarded, and you are highly appreciated for what you’ve been doing over the last 30 years.”
To date, the Freewinds’ unending charitable efforts have brought more than 450 awards, recognitions and heartfelt proclamations from all of her Caribbean friends, including each of the islands and ports she frequents: Antigua, Dominica, St. Martin, St. Kitts, Tortola, Virgin Gorda, St. Vincent, Barbados, Grenada, Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Freeport and Nassau.
AN INSIDE LOOK AT SCIENTOLOGY EXPANSION
Every year attendees are treated to a briefing on all the details of the religion’s ever-expanding movement and this year’s event proved the most exciting ever.
The afternoon seminar was hosted by representatives from Church Management and among an array of exciting topics presented was the number of new Ideal Orgs in the pipeline. The unending parade of upcoming Orgs embodied the spirit of the cruise, with new Churches on the runway to completion and grand opening across multiple continents from Port Elizabeth, South Africa to Newcastle, England and San Juan, Puerto Rico to Santa Barbara, California.
An energetic recap next celebrated the historic launch of the Scientology Television Network in March and gave a behind the scenes look at Scientology Media Productions. In fact, attendees discovered how the Church-owned and staffed Hollywood studio generates original content and manages the million-and-one details involved in broadcasting to the world in 17 languages.
Then rounding out the presentation, passengers enjoyed a review of how the religion’s rapid expansion is impacting local Scientology Churches around the world, with numbers walking through their doors now highest in the religion’s history.
AN EVENING DEDICATED TO THE LEGACY OF FOUNDER L. RON HUBBARD (LRH)
“You are about to hear an account of LRH defending human rights… and remember, what was then on the line, is no less on the line today,” said Mr. Miscavige as he introduced the highly anticipated biographical presentation.
Dan Sherman, the LRH Biographer, then presented an illuminating tale of L. Ron Hubbard’s fight for human rights in Southern Africa. In particular, it tells of Mr. Hubbard’s legendary Bill of Rights and Constitution for Rhodesia—a document designed to break down walls of racial prejudice at the height of apartheid.
Bringing the presentation vividly to life were never-before-seen filmed interviews of those who worked with LRH and those whose lives he touched throughout his stay in Africa—a place of unbounded potential and a place where he delivered great hope for her people.
A NIGHT IN THE NAME OF HUMANITY
The formal evening dedicated to the International Association of Scientologists (IAS) and its mission to further the social betterment efforts of the religion, is a dynamic part of every Maiden Voyage Anniversary. IAS-supported campaigns and initiatives recognized in this year’s mid-term report included:
- The Citizens Commission on Human Rights (CCHR), which unveiled and checked psychiatric abuse up and down Denmark’s social structure, across Black America’s capitals of the U.S. and within First Nation populations of Vancouver, British Columbia.
- United for Human Rights and Youth for Human Rights, which sparked rights movements across schools of Guyana in South America, within trafficking lanes of South-Eastern Florida and inside ancient conflict zones of Central Israel.
- The Foundation for a Drug-Free World which set about curbing drug consumption in Cyprus party neighborhoods, laying the groundwork for drug-free youth across 19 States of India and crisscrossing coast to coast, for a drug-free America.
- And finally, through IAS-supported programs delivering social salvage with The Way to Happiness bringing calm and moral resurgence to Twin City’s streets, Narconon Drug Rehabilitation cutting usage rates across Eastern Taiwan and Applied Scholastics spiking graduation rates throughout Nigeria’s education landscape.
The week was crowned by an award that has everything to do with the Freewinds and yet is monumental all unto itself. Because in the wake of an outreach campaign led by the Freewindsthat generated the distribution of millions of copies of The Way to Happiness, The Truth About Drugs and The Story of Human Rights throughout Colombia and following the grand opening of a National Church of Scientology in Bogotá—rights violations in Colombia dropped 96 percent and the nation won a historic peace accord between FARC troops and the national government, ending 50 years of civil war. So it was, the National Colombian Police returned in kind, with a medal of the highest honor to the ecclesiastical leader of the Scientology religion, Mr. David Miscavige, for “saving humanity from violence, evil, terrorism, drug dealings and all the negative factors that threaten it.”
In an official presentation ceremony held at the launch point and final stop of the Maiden Voyage in Bridgetown, Barbados, National Colombian Police General Carlos Ramiro Mena Bravo presented Mr. Miscavige with the Brigadier General Jaime Ramírez Gómez Inspector General Transparency Medal. The award is among the most prestigious of the National Police and represents “courage, bravery and honesty” and the “display of the highest ideals, morals and ethical values.” In presenting the medal to Mr. Miscavige, General Mena declared: “There are more than enough reasons to give this medal to the person who is leading this great Organization of Scientology. The National Police praises, acknowledges and materializes our great gratitude for all the training, motivation and respect Mr. Miscavige has given, not only to every police officer and Colombian military officer, but to every citizen that has benefited from L. Ron Hubbard’s technology and the humanitarian campaigns he inspired… Congratulations in the name of all the Colombian Police. Thank you for your invaluable support in helping us build a new society and for making us part of your team. As Mr. Hubbard once said, ‘We are saving beings… We work in eternity.’”
And with that, the week had all but adjourned and the overarching theme of further expansion was driven into hyperdrive. Indeed, the Church’s exponential growth over the past three decades since these convocations have gathered is not coincidental. In just the last year alone, new Churches have opened in Dublin, Ireland; Birmingham, England; and Amsterdam, the Netherlands in Europe; Johannesburg North in South Africa; and Salt Lake City, Utah and Silicon Valley, California in the United States. In the month just before the cruise, two more jewels were added to the crown of new Churches: in Perth, Australia, and Orlando, Florida, making for nearly 70 major Scientology Churches standing in global cities across six continents worldwide, with many more on the development fast track.
So as delegates headed for home, with new plans in place for yet another year of expansion and social betterment, Mr. Miscavige offered the following finale message:
“While this may be the end of our 30th Maiden Voyage Anniversary, every end is also a new beginning…
“And in this case, what begins here and now, will and must continue to eternity!”
Bursting with new visions for a fresh bright future, all disembarked, knowing they would continue working well beyond the near horizon.