An organization that has drawn protests in other parts of Toronto has launched a location in Scarborough.
On Nov. 12, Scarborough’s first and Toronto’s fourth Church of Scientology opened at Neilson Road and McLevin Avenue in the Malvern area. It joins churches on Yonge Street and Broadview Avenue.
Around 70 people attended the outdoor opening ceremony, including Scarborough-Rouge River MPP Bal Balkissoon.
The site was opened by Dr. Sheridan Cyrus, the Scarborough location’s mission holder (the local congregation’s leader).
It was seeing his wife’s fears disappear after a few hours of counselling with the Church of Scientology that got Cyrus interested in Scientology, he said.
She had a plethora of unexplained fears, he said. For example, his wife wasn’t able to walk on sidewalks because she had a deep fear of earthworms, he said.
But after undergoing counselling with the Church of Scientology, his wife dramatically changed for the better, Cyrus said.
The Scarborough opening is exciting for the church, said Pat Felske, the church’s director of special affairs.
“We’ve been waiting for this day for quite some time. There’s a lot of people out there and they need help, and that’s what we can do with this mission.”
Other locations in Toronto have been the subject of protests, with a demonstration against the church planned by a group that calls itself Anonymous for Saturday at the Yonge Street location.
But opposition in Scarborough has been quiet and the opening took place without protest.
Malvern residents interviewed in the area were unaware a Church of Scientology was opening and appeared indifferent to it once they were informed.
A worker at the Malvern Presbyterian Church said she did not want to comment on the nearby opening and the reverend at the Church of the Nativity on Neilson Road couldn’t be reached for comment by deadline.
Saroma Baillie, 29, a Malvern resident who attended the opening, said she joined Scientology 17 years ago when she completed its study courses and realized it helped her schoolwork immensely.
“I realized that it actually made a real big difference so I kept my interest up,” Baillie said. “I discovered that there are a lot more things in Scientology that I could use in my own life to help myself.”
Church of Scientology officials said it offers courses and counselling in many areas of life, including relationships and finances, teaching children how to study effectively for school and even tax preparation.
Cryus said he has been active in the Malvern community over the years, helping raise money for a new Anglican church, which opened in 2001. He also helped expand the Malvern Family Resource Centre.
Working with people at the centre and as a dentist in Malvern, many people have asked him for advice for their problems, he said.
“I see there’s a great need for [the Church of Scientology] because people in the area are worried about their finances, relationships, their children,” Cyrus said. “I think these are areas we can help them with.”