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Crystal Cathedral leaders appeal to congregation in wake of bankruptcy filing
October 25th, 2010
07:37 PM ET

Crystal Cathedral leaders appeal to congregation in wake of bankruptcy filing

Editor's Note: CNN's Michael Martinez files this report from Los Angeles, California.

Leaders of the bankrupt Crystal Cathedral megachurch in southern California made emotional appeals over the weekend for financial help – as well as extended a grateful thanks to worshippers.

Church founder Robert H. Schuller, 84, made a personal appeal during Sunday’s services in the Garden Grove, California, church.

“I need more help from you,” Schuller said, according to an account in the Orange County Register. "If you are a tither, become a double-tither. If you are not a tither, become a tither. This ministry has earned your trust. This ministry has earned your help."

He and his daughter, Sheila Schuller Coleman, the senior pastor, reiterated a theme emphasizing how the strong can overcome crises, no matter how devastating.

“It was actually heartbreaking to be very honest and open with all of you” about how the church filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week, Schuller Coleman said in a video blog posted Saturday on the church’s website.

“And yet, you know, dad has taught me and raised me to believe that every challenge, every setback, is an opportunity,” she continued. “In the final analysis, I do believe with all my heart that God will have the last word and it will be good.”

While Schuller Coleman stated the church has had its best cash flow in 10 years, it has been unable to cut its expenses fast enough to deal with the recession.

In the blog and during Sunday’s services, Schuller Coleman said the church debt includes a $36 million mortgage plus $7 million in bills from vendors. In all, church debt is close to $50 million, she told congregants.

“Obviously we don’t have $7 million in our bank account,” she said in her blog. “Most of the debt, 90 percent of it, is the mortgage to our campus.

“Yes, we are indebted, but most of all we are indebted to you, our faithful, faithful friends,” she added.

Schuller Coleman was confident of a better future.

“We will be out of Chapter 11 once we have a repayment plan,” which could take a “few years” to carry out, she said. “This is a chapter. God will have the last word, and it will be good.”

The church has also experienced organizational conflict when the elder Schuller turned the church over to his only son, the Rev. Robert A. Schuller, in 2008, but the younger Schuller quickly resigned in the wake of a family power struggle stemming from some of his sisters and their husbands.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Church • Houses of worship • Money & Faith

soundoff (49 Responses)
  1. fence cleaning

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    April 14, 2012 at 3:01 am |
  2. ArchAngel

    Here is a perfect example of man creating a church to his god, the almighty dollar. Schuller and his cronies deserve to be tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail. That's why it's important to have an unpaid clergy, because sooner or later there will have to be a choice between worshiping God or worshiping the money, and 99.99999% of the time the money will win. Here Schuller has essentially stripped the coffers for his own lavish lifestyle and those who thought their donations would be for a worthy cause can only realize that it all went to a wolf in sheep's clothing. A thief.

    November 5, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • Nappi

      And after all this, if you do not obey Me, but walk conartry to Me, then I also will walk conartry to you in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you seven times for your sins I will destroy your high places, cut down your incense altars, and cast your carcasses on the lifeless forms of your idols; and My soul shall abhor you. I will lay your cities waste and bring your sanctuaries to desolation, and I will not smell the fragrance of your sweet aromas. Leviticus 26:27-31The Crystal Cathedral, being a high place built for the worship of Self, is being destroyed, its blasphemous altars where the incense is burned to the god of Flesh are being cut down, and the sanctuary set aside to glorify the idol of Self-Esteem is being brought to desolation.

      November 10, 2012 at 12:54 am |
  3. Marketta Clouser

    Thanks for a really interesting read, learn quite a few tips here, trying hard to improve my credit , i did a consumer proposal 7 years ago and just now i am starting to rebuild my credit slowly but surely and trying to avoid that credit card trap.

    June 5, 2011 at 4:18 pm |
  4. c d ingwell

    It is just like any other business. You have an idea of income and you budget expenses accordingly. This may require layoffs, reduction of services, rental of space to other businesses, etc. Many churches face the same problems every year as christianity continues to decline and the majority of members retire on fixed incomes. It is a sorry mess as the world festers. We need a solid committment to our Christian beliefs as we may have to defend them one of these days.

    March 31, 2011 at 11:45 am |
  5. Reformed

    @ Mesa Mick I have a question for you. Just wondering if you could explain to me if you are an atheist than why are you thanking God? being an atheist you don't believe there is a God correct ? So why than do you thank some one you don't believe in? Just wondering if you can logically explain that to me.

    November 20, 2010 at 5:57 pm |
    • Veninha

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      November 8, 2012 at 5:16 pm |
  6. church girl

    When I joined the Crystal Cathedral in 2004 I was thrilled to have found a new church home. After 4 years of volunteering in nearly every area they needed help, I got tired of defending this "church" where each week a paid choir sang, a paid orchestra played, and oh yes, a paid celebrity to draw people. Why wasn't Jesus the "draw?" Robert A the son certainly tried by preaching from (here's a thought) THE BIBLE! He was an excellent teacher and remains so, occasionally guesting at his son Bobbie's church, The Gathering, in Orange CA. Matter of fact I think young Bobbie's the best in that family at preaching and teaching. God help them to see the light and right their wrongs before it's too late.

    November 2, 2010 at 2:23 am |
  7. JohnQuest

    It would looks great, I would even go inside (if it were a concert hall).

    October 27, 2010 at 11:22 am |
    • BB

      yo ha!

      October 27, 2010 at 5:15 pm |
  8. David Johnson

    Robert A Schuller, $196,478, Hour of Power
    Fred W. Southard, $156,710, Hour of Power
    James W. Coleman,$156,710, Hour of Power
    James B. Penner, $156,710, Hour of Power
    Louise Dunn, $154,731, Church
    Charles L. Smith, $135,519, Hour of Power
    John A. Townsend, $125,027, Hour of Power
    Carol Milner, $108,415, Hour of Power
    Robert H. Schuller, $108,415, Hour of Power
    Donna Schuller, $80,308, Hour of Power
    Gretchen J. Penner, $69,792, Hour of Power
    Sheila Coleman, $69,792, Church
    Source: Fred Southard declaration, Oct. 19, 2010, bankruptcy Exhibit 1

    Plus, I bet they have corporate cards for expenses and other perks.

    October 27, 2010 at 10:44 am |
    • Sum Dude

      @David Johnson

      Hey bro! I thought you were Reality there with all that info! Good list!
      I notice that the "couples" wages add up to very near 250k, the income bracket. So "perks" are very much a likelyhood to get past the IRS, I would bet.

      November 2, 2010 at 3:33 am |
  9. Terry - Indiana

    We visited the Crystal Cathedral, and I came away understanding the story of the "Money Changers in the Temple". I believe the only thing they were not selling was cars. What an absolute waste of money to spend that amount of money on a building, and then have the guts to call it a cathedral.

    October 27, 2010 at 9:05 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.