Special Report: Is Rev. Robert Schuller's 'Crystal Cathedral' Crumbling?
It isn’t really a “cathedral” in the literal sense, but the glass-paneled Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California is now a center of intrigue due to a family split and diminishing funds.
Many are upset that a cloud still hangs over the reasons for the family split. One thread maintains a petition to reinstate Robert A. Schuller as the Senior Pastor. Some who were faithful viewers over the years have made it clear they are finished supporting the “Hour of Power.”
Almost ten years ago the successful television pastor began to carefully introduce his son, Robert A. Schuller, 54, to his congregation as his likely successor. In 2006 he was officially installed as the Senior Pastor at the local church and main speaker for the hour of power.
The family legacy began to crumble when Schuller was removed as the speaker for the “Hour of Power” at the end of October, 2008. One month later he resigned as Senior Pastor of the Crystal Cathedral, citing ideological differences with his father.
With most television ministry based strongly on personalities, the abrupt changes in leadership and rumors of problems in the Schuller family took their toll on church income.
The staff disruption could not have come at a worse time as the church also took major hits in television partner giving and church offerings due to the financial difficulties in America. An economic shortfall of $5 million for 2008 put the ministry in real jeopardy. The elder Schuller sent a letter to his strongest supporters, called the “Eagle Club,” asking for some major year-end gifts to strengthen their financial platform.
Then, at the end of January the church announced it was laying off the Executive Pastor, Jim Poit, along with his wife, Linda, who was in charge of the children’s ministry.
Other staff members, including the Pastor of Congregational Life and the pastor over Hispanic ministry, were released.
Rick Mysse, a denominational representative for the Reformed Church of America with which Schuller’s church is affiliated, told the Orange County Register that these layoffs were simply normal.
"The church had to get rid of some payroll," he stated. "These are really a group of great, talented people. But our numbers are down and we're trying to make it under tough economic conditions like everyone else."
In addition to layoff’s, the church is trying to liquidate approximately $65 million dollars in property, including a church, previously led by the younger Schuller, and retreat center both located in San Juan Capistrano.
Currently, the church is led by interim Pastor Juan Carlos Ortiz, a long-time friend and supporter of the ministry. Schuller’s daughters and sons-in-law are all deeply involved in the work of the Crystal Cathedral but Ortiz has made it clear that the church board will be appointing a new pastor who will not be a member of the family.
In the Forum on the Church’s website, supporters of the ministry have made their opinions clearly known. Many are upset that a cloud still hangs over the reasons for the family split. One thread maintains a petition to reinstate Robert A. Schuller as the Senior Pastor. Some who were faithful viewers over the years have made it clear they are finished supporting the “Hour of Power.”
A third generation of Schullers, Robby V. Schuller, heads up a ministry on the campus of the Crystal Cathedral called The Gathering Community. This ministry announced on January 11th that they will be leaving the Cathedral grounds.
Through his television ministry, Schuller had become the absentee pastor to millions in the United States and in other portions of the world for almost four decades.
Garden Grove Community Church began in a Drive-in in 1955, built a building that included a drive-in ministry and began one of the most successful televangelism programs in history in 1970 called “The Hour of Power. In 1977 the church caused a California sensation when the Crystal Cathedral was erected at a cost of $17 million.
Randy Sly was baptized into the Episcopal Church. After having wandered from the faith, he experienced a genuine conversion as an adult and became a Wesleyman Minister. His journey through the early fathers led him to his time as an Archbishop of the Charismatic Episcopal Church. He and his wife Sandy were received into the full communion of the Catholic Church three years ago.
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for December 2013
General Intention: Victimized Children. That children who are victims of abandonment or violence may find the love and protection they need.
Missionary Intention: Prepare the Savior's Coming. That Christians, enlightened by the Word incarnate, may prepare humanity for the Savior's coming.
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