It’s Official: Crystal Cathedral is now Catholic

It’s Official:  Crystal Cathedral is now Catholic

The Diocese of Orange has officially closed on their purchase of the Crystal Cathedral property.  The Catholic church agreed to pay $57.5 million for the property.

The current Crystal Cathedral congregation has 3 years to find another place to worship.

You can read more here.

Insider Trading at the Crystal Cathedral

Insider Trading at the Crystal Cathedral

An interesting story in yesterday’s Orange County Register that I admit I don’t fully understand.

Seems that some tried to block the sale of the CC to the Catholic Diocease because of a 1987 lease that agreed to give the building and property to Robert Schuller Ministries in return for a 99 year lease.

But nobody could prove that the lease actually existed.

Schuller daughter Sheila Schuller Coleman testified on Monday that the congregation had paid the 99-year leas in full on Monday morning… all 99 years worth.  Grand total:  $99.

But no one could produce the documents, so the judge said the sale goes through.

Here’s where it gets even more weird.  Jim Penner was a member of both the Robert Schuller Ministries (now Crystal Cathedral Ministries) board AND the Crystal Cathedral church board.  Penner, by the way, is a son-in-law of the elder Schullers.  Penner was asked if this lease was in effect why he didn’t encourage the congregation to bid on the cathedral.

Here’s the newspaper report of that part of it:

Penner said both boards operated in secret, comparing his role to someone sitting on the boards of rival oil giants ExxonMobil and Texaco. If he had told the congregation what he knew from the ministry board, it would be like insider trading, he said.

But the bankruptcy plans to sell the cathedral were public knowledge, creditor attorney Todd Ringstad said. Wasn’t it part of your duty as a board member to share knowledge with the congregation?, he asked Penner.

Penner replied, “I think I did my job as a Crystal Cathedral Consistory member poorly.”


PROBLEM #1:  Having your son-in law on either board

PROBLEM #2:  Having 2 separate boards, each with your son-in-law on it

PROBLEM #3:  Each board operating in secret from the other, and having your son-in-law on each

PROBLEM #4:  Having said son-in-law saying after the fact that it wasn’t a good thing

PROBLEM #5:  Saying you have a lease and paying the lease for 99 years the day of a court proceeding without being able to produce an actual lease document.

So… If I get this right… they are (were) trying to say that the church had a lease until 2086 and they can’t be kicked out; and putting all the responsibility on the CC/RS ministry?

Let’s all say together:  throw daddy under the bus.

The right thing to do at this point is to allow the sale, and pay all the creditors.

Truth is… there’s no money left, from what it appears, in any accounts.  And the son-in-law should have seen that from BOTH sides.

You can read more here…

Deferred Miracle?

Deferred Miracle?

Well… last week the judged ruled that the Crystal Cathedral will be sold to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange.

Sunday at services at the CC, Senior Pastor Sheila Schuller Coleman thanked God for ‘intentionally delaying” a miracle.  Here’s what she said, according to the Orange County Register:

“Is a miracle delayed, denied?  We have many reasons to believe that God’s miracle will still come to pass and His glory will still shine all that much brighter.”

She said that in front of, the the Register listed as a ‘congregation of about 400′.

(If the picture above is true representation of the actual attendance on Sunday at one of the services, then things are beyond dire.)

Under the agreement with the Diocese, the CC could lease the core buildings for three years for $100,000 a month for the first year, $150,000/month for years 2 and 3.  But at the end of year three, they would have to vacate the premises.

Seems to me there are two options:

1.  Hold out for the big miracle with big faith, i.e. ‘play big or go home’; or

2.  Call it a day.  Pay off your creditors and move on shut this puppy down.

What would YOU do?


PS – I would probably call it a day.  (Take all the CC theology out of it).  We had a good run. Let’s pay off all the people we owe and distribute the few thousand we may have left.  And let’s bless these people as they move on to other ministries (and help them find a place).  Is this horrible thinking?


$300k per year… Forever

$300k per year… Forever

Wow… things are getting even more interesting in the Crystal Cathedral settlement.

Last week, I did a post on churches and pastors that just don’t get it.  This could very well be part 2.

Everything’s coming down to a judge’s determination this week (it was supposed to be yesterday, but has now been postponed until Thursday) as to what happens to the Cathedral.  It will either go with a local college or the Catholic Diocese.  It’s all up to the judge.

But what was interesting to me yesterday was what was written about in the Orange Country Register.

Evidently, Robert H. Schuller (the senior) says that the ministry infringed on the copyright of his books.  Between the copyright infringement and the termination of his contract, Robert wanted $6.5 MILLION dollars set aside to pay those claims.

Schuller also said that he was promised, under a transition agreement, to be paid $300,000 a year for the rest of his life.  He wants that amount as well.  Carol Milner, the Schuller’s daughter, has said that they have not been receiving the payments promised to them, and that they are now being asked to give up the rights to their works.

Milner is quoted as saying:

“My parents have given all their assets to the church,” she said. “They are paying a lot in attorney’s fees and have a huge mortgage on their home that they took out to keep the ministry alive. At their age, they cannot afford to take risks.”

In fact, Milner says that the ministry is right now inappropriately selling her father’s books online, and that her parents have absolutely no control.

It’s sad… but in the end, it’s looking like it may all come down to money.  That’s many times the case.

I have no idea what Robert Schuller’s personal finances are, nor do I care.  But at 80-some years old, I’m surprised he has a mortgage, or that he needs a severance package from the church in the amount of $300k a year for life.

In the light of the bankruptcy, it seems a little ludicrous, don’t you think?

I’d love, of course, to hear YOUR thoughts.



Catholics Still Want Crystal Cathedral

Catholics Still Want Crystal Cathedral

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange has filed a petition in bankruptcy court to block the sale of the 40-acre Crystal Cathedral campus to Chapman University, stating that the plan will not pay creditors in full and will set up the ministry for failure predicting that the cathedral, under that plan, could run out of cash by next May.

The diocese’s offer for $53.6 million is the better and more superior bid for the Crystal Cathedral property compared to the $50 million offered by Chapman University, its attorneys argue in the petition filed Friday.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange has filed a petition in an attempt to block the sale of the Crystal Cathedral to Chapman University.

Last week, Crystal Cathedral administrators announced that their board has selected Chapman as the preferred buyer. Papers with regard to the sale are expected to be filed in bankruptcy court Monday. A confirmation hearing has been scheduled for 9 a.m. Nov. 14.

The difference between the two plans is that while Chapman offers the church the option to lease back core church buildings and buy them back within five years, the diocese’s plan calls for a three-year leasing plan and proposes that the ministry move to an alternative worship space offered by the diocese at a reduced rate, according to the diocese’s petition. Crystal Cathedral Ministries will also then have the option to buy that property at 90 percent of the market rate, the filings state.

The diocese states that based on Crystal Cathedral Ministries’ revenues and expenses over the last year or so, it is highly improbable that they will make the monthly lease payments ranging between $150,000 and $215,000 to Chapman. This will cause the ministry to default on lease payments and get forced out of the campus or liquidate their assets, the diocese states. Crystal Cathedral “is attempting to sell the campus for a lower price while taking on a greater risk,” the diocese’s court filings state.

Donations to the cathedral have plummeted since it filed for bankruptcy protection from its creditors a year ago, according to monthly operating reports filed in court. The ministry collected $2.3 million in donations last November, its first full month in bankruptcy, versus just $1.3 million in September, a 42 percent decline.

via The Orange County Register.


This seems to make sense to me.  The CC wants to take the deal that they think will give them the best chance of staying in their facility.  But the case that they will not be able to make the lease payments also seems plausible.

QUESTION:  Do you think the CC will still be a church in 5 years?


$150,000 a month to rent the Crystal Cathedral

$150,000 a month to rent the Crystal Cathedral

Well… the Crystal Cathedral board has come to the realization that they will ultimately have to sell the landmark church.

But to who?

The CC board has picked Chapman University as their preferred buyer.  Chapman’s bid is $50 million, roughly the amount owed creditors by the CC. Chapman would allow the CC to ‘rent’ the main cathedral building for $150,000 a month (with some increases) for about 15 years… then the CC would have an option to purchase the property back.

Problem is… the local catholic diocese has offered $53.6 million… with the stipulation that the CC would have to move out in 3 years.  Of course, the CC board doesn’t like that option.

From what I can tell… it will go to the hands of the judge to make the final verdict, but it looks like the creditors may be in favor of this deal.

In one of the corniest and oddest statements yet… Robert Schuller has now switched his focus and dream:

“We look forward to focusing on our new dream: buying the core campus back.”

Now THAT’s positive thinking!



Vegas Church: Bankruptcy

Vegas Church:  Bankruptcy

One of Henderson’s largest churches filed for bankruptcy protection last week after deciding to stop making mortgage payments on its main campus.

According to court documents, the Board of Directors at the Church at South Las Vegas determined that the donations received from church members would be better spent on expanding the church and other pursuits than on making payments on its existing building and land, which are significantly upside down.

The first hearing for the bankruptcy petition was scheduled to take place this morning in the Nevada District of U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

Church board members decided to stop making the monthly mortgage payment of about $52,000 in May, after an appraisal of the church’s main campus in the Seven Hills neighborhood, at 3051 W. Horizon Ridge Pkwy., placed its value at $2.4 million.

The church owes about $7.6 million, according to court documents.

“Given the vast differences between the outstanding principal balance of the note and the present value of the Seven Hills Campus and the source of funding as voluntary donations of church members, it is simply impossible for the church to continue to sustain the monthly note payments,” the church’s chief financial officer, Deborah Whittington, said in a court declaration.

Whittington said the church has taken in a monthly average of more than $356,000 in member donations during the first six months of 2011, but spends $321,000 per month on payroll and other expenses, leaving only $32,000 for the $52,000 mortgage payment.

Whittington said church officials attempted to restructure the loan with First Bank, but have been unable to do so.

First Bank filed a suit to initiate foreclosure proceedings against the church in June.

In its filings, the church reported $963,000 in the bank, but of that, almost $647,000 were member donations designated for church expansion, and the rest is committed to church operations, the day care and next year’s Easter service.

The church claims 4,000 members, with average weekly attendance of about 3,500 between the Seven Hills location and a satellite campus that operates in space leased from Foothill High School on College Drive and U.S. 95.

via Church Seeks Bankruptcy Protection.

Catholic Crystal Cathedral?

Catholic Crystal Cathedral?

The Catholic Diocese of Orange said Wednesday it is looking into the possibility of trying to acquire the Crystal Cathedral complex in southern California.

The diocese said in a statement on its Web site Bishop Tod D. Brown has authorized a law firm and other lay advisers to explore whether the church should try to purchase the expansive property in Garden Grove, which is tied up in federal bankruptcy court.

The diocese said in its statement the bishop has followed the bankruptcy proceedings and is concerned about the future of the landmark facilities. It also noted the diocese does not have a cathedral to meet the needs of the 1.2 million Catholics in the county, the 11th largest diocese in the nation.

“While we continue to develop plans for a cathedral in Santa Ana, it is prudent to evaluate the opportunity to engage in the pending auction of this property and to mitigate the chance that it cease to function as a place of worship, if acquired by others,” Brown said.

via Crystal Cathedral draws Catholic interest –

Schuller Out

Schuller Out

Wow.  News that Robert H. Schuller has been voted off the board at the Crystal Cathedral.  His wife voted for him to stay, but the rest of the board voted him off, at least as a voting member, of the CC board.

According to the church:  “This will free up Dr. Schuller’s time for more speaking engagements and a writing project he has wanted to tackle. He will also continue to speak in the pulpit of the Crystal Cathedral and on the Hour of Power, and meet with staff in creative and vision-casting meetings.”

But according to Schuller’s son, Robert A., who himself was voted off the board three years ago, Dad’s ouster came because he wanted more people to sit on the board (which, I believe, is made up of mostly family members).  Robert A.:  “They kicked him off. … I feel bad for him because he’s had to watch his life’s work go down the toilet the last three years,”

Here’s the article…

Another thing that really interested me:  a quote from a current CC staffer of 28 years about the current leadership and Robert H.:

“They weren’t letting him do anything anyway. Those of us here see it as symbolically awful,” said Pastor James Kok, who has been on staff with Crystal Cathedral Ministries for 28 years. “They had effectively stopped listening to him two or three years ago. It’s symbolic, not functional. He was mostly put on the shelf by his daughters.”

About the leadership style of the sisters, Kok said, “They just do things. They don’t ask anybody.”

Somebody’s gonna be called into the main office this morning, I fear.

What a mess.

What do you think will ultimately happen with the CC?  Will they be able to make it out of bankruptcy?  And if not, what ultimately will happen to the church, and to the iconic building we currently know as the Crystal Cathedral?


Crystal Cathedral Burial Plots

Crystal Cathedral Burial Plots

Did you know that part of the Crystal Cathedral property in Garden Grove is actually a cemetery and mausoleum?  Yes… 1.5 acres!

A little trivia for you:  Marie Callendar (yes, the frozen food and restaurant gal) is buried there.  So is Thurl Ravenscroft, the voice of Tony the Tiger.

Those who own plots or space there also include Pianist Roger Williams, and the family of TBN owners Paul Crouch.

Prices range from $1400 to $4850 for smaller plots up to a quarter mil for ‘family estates’ that can hold up to 10 caskets.

But with the property up for sale, some people aren’t happy.  (Well, some people are dead, but their family’s aren’t happy).

Like the family of John Crean, an entrepreneur and philanthropist.  Crean’s son is not happy with the planned sale of property and building of apartments on the property:

“My father bought the spaces years ago and his intention was to help out the church,” he said. “But we want him and our family to rest in dignity – not next to a three-story apartment complex.”

The cemetery has 6,000 spaces.  No word on how many of those spaces are actually sold.

And so the saga continues.

More here…


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