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Crystal Church Ministries slowly disintegrating

Kara Menini

Crystal Cathedral

Mega-church is bankrupt, founding Schuller family decides to leave ministry

The Crystal Cathedral, which has been home to the televangelist ministry founded by Robert Schuller, will no longer house the same congregation. Due to bankruptcy in the Crystal Cathedral Ministries, two big announcements have been made this past weekend: Robert Schuller and his wife Arvella have stepped down from the board over failed attempts at negotiations related to finances, and their daughter, Sheila Schuller Coleman announced that she will be stepping down as senior pastor of the Crystal Cathedral and will move her congregation to a new location. She announced that she will start a new ministry, away from the mega-church, called Hope Center of Christ. It is rumored that some of the Crystal Cathedral congregation with follow Coleman, but some are happy to see her leave.

The Crystal Cathedral is a 10,000-pane glass church that was sold in February to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange for $57.5 million to try and emerge from federal bankruptcy protection. Donations made to the church fell almost 70% from last year, which has caused the Crystal Cathedral Ministries to fail to pay back vendors. According to the LA Times, the church owes $12.5 million in payments to creditors, but the church is also being sued by various Schullar family members who claim the church owes money for things like copyright infringement, intellectual property rights violations and unpaid contracts. The combination of decreased donations, increased debt and lawsuits has put the Crystal Cathedral Ministries in a tight spot.

Founder Robert Schuller retired from the organization in 2006 after the ministry had reached mega-church status. Since then, he and his wife have had financial issues with the company and members of their family have reportedly not been treated kindly. Senior Pastor Sheila Schuller Coleman saw her brother-in-law, Jim Penner, receive the pink slip from his position as executive produer of the “Hour of Power”, the churches TV ministry. The events surrounding the firing have cause controversy.

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