Thinking Out Loud

April 3, 2010

Crystal Cathedral: Is This The End?



Google can’t keep up with this continually evolving story, and keeps sending people to this 22-month old post.  For the full saga, use the search bar in the upper right hand corner of this blog and type “Crystal Cathedral” and hit “enter” and all the items related will appear in REVERSE chronological order (newest to oldest).


UPDATE (NOVEMBER 18, 2011) — In the end, the CC board switches horses in midstream and back the Roman Catholic bid, to which the judge agrees.  Confused?  We were, and so were the church members.  See top of this item (above the picture) for link.

UPDATE (OCTOBER 28, 2011) — The property is sold to Chapman University.  The church continues to use the cathedral on Sundays, and hopes some day to buy it back.  Update to the update:  Two weeks later, that’s not how the story ended!!  (See above)

UPDATE (JULY 9, 2011) — The story on the potential purchase by the local Roman Catholic diocese is located here

UPDATE (JULY 5, 2011) — For those of you being directed here by a search engine, the recent story on Robert H. Schuller being removed from the board is located here.

UPDATE (MAY 28, 2011) — For those of you directed here looking for the story of the sale of the property, that story is located here.

UPDATE (OCTOBER 20, 2010) — For those of you being referred here by online searches, the story on the chapter 11 filing is located here.

The money just isn’t there.

The week started out almost humorously with the suppliers of the camels, sheep and goats (oh my!) for the Crystal Cathedral’s annual Christmas production looking for the church to settle a bill for around $56,000 US.

The Orange County Register, which keeps close tabs on events at the large glass church reported earlier this week:

Kristina Oliver, who owns Oliver Livestock Co. in Hemet, says the cathedral owes her more than $56,000. For 29 years, her family has been supplying the pageants with live animals – camels, goats, sheep, horses and donkeys – a much-touted feature of the Glory pageants.

Oliver sent a letter to Sheila Schuller Coleman, founder Robert H. Schuller’s daughter, who is now the head of Crystal Cathedral Ministries. In the letter, she talked about her daughters ages 3 and 1, her husband who has been battling cancer and the danger of her losing their home if she doesn’t receive the payment.

“I’ve been completely ignored without so much as a courtesy of a response or explanation,” Oliver said. “I understand the church has been hurting for cash…but the way I’ve been treated, with no courtesy or professionalism, is unacceptable.”

But like a snowball rolling downhill, the story — and the amount of indebtedness — kept growing as the week went on, with the San Jose Mercury News reporting this on Thursday:

Three businesses have sued the Crystal Cathedral megachurch for more than $2 million combined in unpaid bills.

The church has a $55 million budget deficit and recently conducted layoffs, sold church property and reduced the number of TV stations airing the “Hour of Power” telecast.

From concerns of $56,000 on Monday to $2 million by Thursday.

Is it possible that it’s all over?  And what would a trustee or receiver do with a large glass church?   The church campus, in Garden Grove, California is on a scale that makes this story reminiscent of the collapse of Heritage Village in Charlotte a decade ago.    That was the property belonging to Jim Bakker and the PTL Club, now belonging to Rick Joyner’s Morningstar Ministries and the current home of former Canadian evangelist Todd Bentley.

Right now the church needs a savior — in both senses of that word.   It needs someone to walk onto the stage who can rescue the facility and the ministry from financial demise.   Is such a person out there?

It’s ironic that it could end this way; that this could be Robert H. Schuller’s legacy.   Google his name and you find countless news stories, testimonials and bloggers quoting his pithy sayings as though they were the Word of God itself.    Perhaps building his ministry on God’s sayings — the Bible — might have brought a better ending.

From this perspective, the possibility-thinking church is running out of possibilities.

See updates above for links to more recent information, including the two most recent ones above the title.


  1. Excellent post as always, Paul. I share your sentiments. I often would watch the program because of some of the special guests but Dr. Schuller himself left me unsatisfied. The “glass” cathedral might end up being the Schuller family’s biggest “pane”. Shattered!

    Comment by David Fisher — April 3, 2010 @ 9:15 pm

  2. […] of internet traffic lately.   Here’s a more recent post on this blog on this subject… click here. Comments […]

    Pingback by Sheila Schuller Coleman to Lead Crystal Cathedral « Thinking Out Loud — April 4, 2010 @ 8:29 pm

  3. Paul, thanks for the blog article. In terms of deception, modern heresies and urban myths we still haven’t seen the last of purveyors of false gospels. As long as people are ready to eliminate sin, righteousness and judgement from their messages or salvation story we will always have a long list of substitutes. The result of these easy substitiutes leads to frustruation, embarrassment and shipwreck. (See article “The emperor steps out in his clothes..again” )

    Comment by Acidri — May 2, 2010 @ 3:49 pm

  4. Hi,
    Can I have permission to use this photo for the National Public Radio website?

    Comment by Jennifer Noll — October 19, 2010 @ 2:44 pm

    • We’ve checked this thoroughly, and although I have a very similar picture somewhere in my files, it appears this is not the one; therefore the permission is not mine to give!

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — October 20, 2010 @ 6:32 pm

  5. Yeah! As a Catholic, I am thrilled the Orange diocese has elevated this gorgeous building to the status of a true cathedral! It is the a landmark and rightly should remain as a place of worship. I, for one, am thrilled. As a gesture of ecumenism, the bishop offered a 3 year lease and after the lease is up, the Crystal Cathedral Ministries (Hour of Power) will have the use of a building in exchange. The building they will use is (drumroll) a former Catholic Church! (and if it is the one I’m thinking of, it should make a nice substitute.)

    Comment by mtaheny1 — January 3, 2012 @ 12:13 am

    • I am glad you are so thrilled with the outcome. However, I don’t get the line, “has elevated this gorgeous building to the status of a true cathedral.” It is already a house of worship. What will the building have under the new ownership and/or what will take place under the new ownership that isn’t already there or doesn’t already take place?

      Comment by paulthinkingoutloud — January 3, 2012 @ 9:02 am

  6. Truly this is a family matter and more so a church and godly decision which members should not interfere. If it is God’s will so be it.
    I do watch the services regularly in Australia and I personally find that Sheila works very hard and only hope that the congregation is not bias towards her. Let ‘s pray for the glory of their hard untiring godly work and hope that it will come out good for God’s sake. Who runs the church is not important. Leave it to God to decide and steer the ‘ship’!

    Comment by Lim Hock Choon — March 31, 2012 @ 1:53 am

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