Parents Use Billboard to Try to Reach Estranged Scientologist Children

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(LOS ANGELES) -- Phil and Willie Jones have placed a desperate plea to their two estranged children on a three-story high, 50-foot wide billboard in Los Angeles.

The couple's two children, Emily and Michael, are members of the Church of Scientology. The couple say they have not seen their children in two years after leaving the church themselves after four decades.

“We tried everything. We tried phoning,” Phil Jones told ABC News’ Matt Gutman in an interview Wednesday. “We didn't know what else to do so we figured we better make some statement.”

The billboard was posted on Glendale Boulevard, a busy road in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles. It reads in bold letters, “call me.”

Both Phil and Willie Jones say they don’t expect their two adult children -- ages 38 and 42 -- to actually call. They claim the church disconnected them.

Disconnection is a Scientology term for ending communication with those who are antagonistic to the Church. The Church denies that members are forced to disconnect and says the choice to disconnect is voluntary.

“I don't know if the billboard is going to do anything but it's another step,” Willie Jones said. “These are our kids. We want them in our lives.”

“They won’t allow us on the property,” Phil Jones said of their attempts to reach Emily and Michael at the church. “The security people come up and they say, ‘You’re not welcome here.’”

Both Emily and Michael work within the church, according to their parents. Emily got married last year, but her parents say they do not know exactly when.

The couple says Michael works at Scientology’s Celebrity Center, which has hosted some of Hollywood’s biggest stars, including John Travolta and Tom Cruise.

“When I did finally get a phone call from Michael, he didn’t want to have anything to do with us,” Phil Jones told Gutman. “He said, ‘I never want to talk to you again.’”

The Joneses say they are just trying to reunite their family.

“Our whole message is not about their beliefs,” Phil Jones said. “It's just about reconnecting families and ending the disconnection, which is an abuse of families, we believe.”

The Church of Scientology told ABC News in a statement that Phil and Willie Jones are teaming up with a reality show producer to "shamelessly exploit their children."

“It is shameful that two people desperate for publicity would hook up with a reality TV producer to shamelessly exploit their two adult children over their choice of faith," the statement read. "It is equally despicable that these individuals would use a private family matter to promote anti-religious hate and bigotry.”

The couple told ABC News they are producing a documentary about their journey. The producer working with the couple declined to divulge the exact nature of the project.

Copyright © 2016, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Officials break ground on new park honoring the youngest victim of the Boston Marathon bombing

Officials break ground on new park honoring the youngest victim of the Boston Marathon bombingSeanPavonePhoto/iStock/Thinkstock(BOSTON) -- Officials broke ground in Boston Wednesday for a new park dedicated to Martin Richard, the youngest victim of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

Martin was 8 years old when he killed on April 15, 2013, as he watched the marathon from near the finish line with his family. His mother was gravely injured, and his sister, who was 7 at the time,
lost a leg.

Photos from Wednesday's ceremonial groundbreaking show children in hard hats using shovels to dig dirt. Martin's Park, located next to the Boston Children's Museum at the Smith Family Waterfront,
is expected to open in the fall of 2018, according to a press release from the office of Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.

"This park will bring light & hope to that darkness, honoring his memory & allowing kids to be kids," Baker wrote on Twitter.

#MartinRichard lost his life to terror. This park will bring light & hope to that darkness, honoring his memory & allowing kids to be kids. pic.twitter.com/lYUTMyZNxV

— Charlie Baker (@MassGovernor) August 16, 2017

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh wrote on Twitter that the park will remind its visitors of "hope, compassion & love."

"Martin's spirit will always live on in Boston & in Martin's Park," Walsh wrote.

This park reminds us of hope, compassion & love a young boy taught us all. Martin's spirit will always live on in Boston & in Martin's Park. pic.twitter.com/w6Plokx6D7

— Mayor Marty Walsh (@marty_walsh) August 16, 2017

Both Baker and Walsh spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony, as well as Martin's family.

Martin's sister, Jane Richard, said she knows that her brother is happy that the community is coming together.

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