Thinking Out Loud

October 25, 2013

Forgive Me While I Get Disillusioned

I’m running out of pastors, authors and ministries I can wholeheartedly endorse.

Whether it’s James MacDonald’s weekend antics at John MacArthur’s conference, or MacArthur’s tirade against Pentecostalism itself; I find myself having trouble finding a team to back.

The latest to come under the microscope is Charlotte, North Carolina’s Steven Furtick, author of Sun Stand Still and Greater, and pastor of Elevation Church. Both books have been reviewed here favorably, and I have many times linked to Elevation sermon podcasts. I enjoyed the books. I enjoy his preaching style. Dare I say, I’ve learned a lot from his ministry.

Steven Furtick House

But the local NBC News affiliate in Charlotte is concerned about the house the Furticks are building as well as the inaccessibility about how it’s being paid for, or Furtick’s salary.  You can watch that report by clicking here.

Steven Furtick Board of Overseers

And while the salary information is not forthcoming, there is also a concern about who sets that salary: In contrast to (founding denomination) Southern Baptist Convention policy, none of the board are from the church or even live in the immediate area, nor are they elected by members of the Elevate congregation. You can watch that report by clicking this link.

The board of Elevation consists entirely of pastors from other megachurches.

While this isn’t a “watchdog” blog, I respect these two writers who strive to hold church leaders accountable, in particular The Wartburg Watch. You can read their pieces — don’t miss the reader comments — at this link, this link, and this appeal to people to stop giving to rich pastors.

The WCNC-TV story also has raised the broader issue of megachurch pastor compensation, as seen in this item, which appeared yesterday, about Perry Noble, who is also listed above as a board member of Elevation.

…Thinking Out Loud exists partly to celebrate the good that is taking place in various corners of the (capital C) Church. But as I stated at the outset, I’m growing rapidly disillusioned with the very ministries I so much want to endorse.

At Disciple Dojo, there’s a great piece which summarizes both sides of the issue.  But in conclusion, the writer calls this week’s events “a tempest in a teapot” which I feel understates what could be the unraveling of Steven Furtick’s ministry.

And then, just to make it more interesting, blog readers there are asked to make a $10 monthly contribution.

November 18, 2011

Stop The Presses! Crystal Cathedral Now Favors Catholic Bid

Filed under: current events — Tags: , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 4:44 am


Until yesterday, it looked like Chapman University was the Crystal Cathedral board’s favored suitor.  But as the Thursday deadline appeared, the board told the judge it preferred the offer from the Orange County diocese of the Roman Catholic Church.

An Associated Press story at AP’s own website notes:

Some Crystal Cathedral members fear their church will dwindle if the 40-acre grounds are sold to the diocese and they must move to a new location. They noted that congregants emptied their pockets to help build the elaborate building and many planned to be buried in the nearby cemetery.

Others fear the broadcast that funds 70 percent of the church’s revenue will lose viewers if moved to a different, less striking setting.

“That’s our church — the Crystal Cathedral. We bought and paid for it,” said Bob Canfield, a 73-year-old general contractor who joined the church five years ago. “We feel like we’ve been raped of our ministry.”

For many congregants at the Crystal Cathedral, the church building designed by renowned architect Philip Johnson and made up of 10,000 panes of glass has become intertwined with the church’s identity.

“They’re no different than any other business. They have to market themselves, and they have a particular branding and they’ve put all their eggs in that basket,” said Richard Flory, director of research at University of Southern California’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture. “That would be a difficult transition for them to make.”

…continue reading here…

A version of the same story by the same author, Amy Taxin,  in, of all places, The Taiwan News notes the logistics of the purchase would involve a building ‘swap:’

Chapman’s $59 million bid includes provisions for the church to continue using Crystal Cathedral and oversee the cemetery while ceding other buildings to the university to expand its health sciences offerings and possibly start a medical school.

Not so under the diocese’s $57.5 million offer to turn the sanctuary with seating capacity for 3,000 into a long-awaited countywide cathedral and offer Crystal Cathedral congregants use of a smaller Catholic church up the street.

The diocese has tried to assuage congregants’ concerns by preserving a chapel on campus for interfaith use and insisting they will honor existing contracts for cemetery plots regardless of a person’s religious affiliation. The glass-spired Crystal Cathedral _ which lets worshipers see the sky and palm trees through the walls and ceiling of the church _ would remain intact but undergo interior renovations to create a central altar and baptismal font and other structures to serve Catholics’ needs.

“We have promised to maintain the integrity of that beautiful piece of architecture,” said Maria Rullo Schinderle, general counsel for the diocese.

In exchange, Crystal Cathedral congregants could move to the 1,200-seat St. Callistus Catholic church less than a mile away _ a cream-colored sanctuary lined with wooden pews and adorned with a stained glass window on the ceiling.

Parishioners at St. Callistus, who would be asked to make the switch, said they could worship anywhere _ in an enormous sanctuary or tiny room.

“My faith does not depend on a building,” said Rosemary Diliberto, 84, on her way to morning Mass at the ethnically diverse church dotted with signs in English, Spanish and Vietnamese. “God is God, wherever we go.”

…continue reading here…

The story continues…

Update:  …and in the end, the judge awarded the sale to the Roman Catholic diocese.  Details available at this Orange County Register story from 7:00 AM PST, Friday.  As the story continues to develop, there is other news concerning the Cathedral’s denominational covering, The Reformed Church of America, first noted here in a reader comment below.  More on that here in a separate post.

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