One year ago today, January 2, 2012, I made some ‘mostly fun’ predictions for the church and ministry world for 2012. Let’s see how I did:
Ted Haggard will again get headlines for something we wish he wouldn’t. (And his upcoming appearance on Wife Swap doesn’t even count). I predict that Ted will say or do something this year that will make us all want to hide under a rock.
Ted was pretty quiet in 2013. Looks like it’s me hiding under a rock.
Speaking of rocks, and our desire to stone someone, Pat Robertson will sometime this year, say something that will embarrass every Christian in this country. It could be racial, it could be silly, but it most probably will be something that will again show the world that he should have given his broadcast chair to his son a few years ago.
What I lacked in my Ted Haggard prediction, I made up for in Pat Robertson’s. Just do a search here on Pat and you’ll see what I mean.
I predict that Perry will get ‘really pumped’ about SOMETHING this year.
I think even the most liberal judge would say I won this one. :)
Steven will really freak out if, in fact, the sun really does stand still for a day.
Didn’t happen… thank goodness.
Look for a megachurch merger sometime this year. A couple of really big churches making really big impacts will decide that they can make an even more colossal impact if they join forces.
Not like I thought it would. But watch out… it’s coming.
Other Church Mergers.
While mergers have been happening for years, I think 2012 will see the speed up of the number of mergers happening in churches of all sizes. Most of these will be healthy churches that will be taking over struggling churches. Many churches that have considerable financial resources but are quickly dying will be looking for alternatives, and partnering with a local healthy church that will come in and carry on the legacy will look very appealing.
New Birth / Eddie Long.
More hard times for some large churches though. I predict that Eddie Long will no longer be the pastor at New Birth by the end of 2012. The latest divorce and marriage breakup will be the last straw as that ministry fights to survive with or without Long.
The Bishop did have a rough year… really rough. But, he’s still the head at New Birth. So I blew this one.
The Crystal Cathedral/Schuller Family.
I predict that the Schuller family will call it quits when they leave the Crystal Cathedral. I believe they have a year and a half before they have to vacate the premises to their new Catholic owners. After looking at the spreadsheet and the number of people still left at that time, I think they’ll cut their losses and call it a good run.
SUCCESS: Though I didn’t quite get it totally right, the Schuller family (with the exception of the grandson) are all gone from the Crystal Cathedral. Of course, I didn’t predict the $5 million lawsuit, or the new (just this week) article from the National Enquirer that said that the senior Schullers may now be mostly destitute and lose their home.
Christian Lady Gaga.
As the Christian community normally does, we’ll have some great rip-offs this year… probably to include a Christian Lady Gaga, a new Christian social media twitter rip-off or something like that.
SUCCESS: I guess, kinda:
The church around the world will flourish.
I think 2012 will be a great year for the church around the world. It will be mixed here in the US… with real pockets of health developing among younger congregations. But there will be no shortage of conflict and dying churches to contend with as well.
Success on the conflict and dying churches prediction, but that was a given. According to this article, I got it mostly right.
A sad day.
Unfortunately… with many big-name Christian leaders aging, we’ll say good-bye to a good number of high-profile leaders this year… either through retirement or death.
Not really a tough prediction either. Some notable deaths: Chuck Colson and evangelist R. W. Schambach.
Some changes coming to social media as we know it. There will be a new face introduced this year that will give Twitter and Facebook a run for their money. It will be highly customizable and unique, and will help all of us cut through the clutter that we’re all now experiencing in our social media. And, no… it will not be Google+.
OK… missed this one. But I might keep this on my list for 2013.
Phones will continue to get much faster, and do newer and cooler things. Some great advances for the church will be the new app that automatically silences your phone ringer and disables Angry Birds as you enter the sanctuary.
There are now GPS enabled apps that do this… so technically, I got it right. I still think someone needs to package a ‘church cell phone silencer’ app that shuts down the cell phone ringer when you enter the church (via gps). Sell it for $.99 to individuals (who don’t want to get embarrassed when their phone rings during the service, or license it to churches for $100k (after all, they want the cell phones to stop ringing during the invitation).
There will be a lot of strife in the Gospel Coalition this year, as they find out exactly how many things they actually disagree on. The strife will, as in most cases, come from criticism from the outside… from people that don’t like anything, that will attack until something gives.
Boy. Pegged this. James MacDonald resigned from the Gospel Coalition in January after a flurry or criticism about the Elephant Room 2 invitation to T. D. Jakes. Later Mark Driscoll steps down as the council as well.
Super Bowl ring. If not, it blows the whole “God” theory thing.
What? No Super Bowl ring? What was God thinking? Humility check time.
It’s only a matter of time before a mainline denomination falls on hard financial times. Look for new stories telling about a major denomination’s future in question because of finances.
Southern Baptists will probably NOT change their name (even though I’ve actively campaigned that they now be called “Stetzers”). And if they do change their name… expect about 20 – 30% of current SBC churches to defect and start a new denomination called “Southern Baptists”.
They wimped out and decided to opt for a new ‘optional’ name. That saved the coop I predicted. I’m defiant enough to go with my first inclination and just call them Stetzers or Stetzerites anyway.
You do know that the world is going to end in 2012.
Man… Blew that one… I was sure it was the end of the world. Oh well… another year to blog!
What are YOUR predictions for 2013?
From the Orange County Register:
The Rev. Robert H. Schuller, who propelled the Crystal Cathedral into one of the most recognized churches in the world, lost the bulk of his multi-million dollar claims against his former ministry in U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Monday.
Judge Robert Kwan in Los Angeles ruled that Schuller, his wife, daughter and son-in-law did not provide evidence to back most of their claims.
“It’s just a travesty after all that they’ve given and all that they’ve done,” said daughter Carol Schuller Milner.
Schuller and his wife, Arvella, filed a number of claims, including a $5 million claim for breach of contract and another for an unspecified amount for copyright infringements. Judge Robert Kwan rejected most of the claims and instead awarded $615,625 to Schuller and nothing to his wife.
“This was a complete victory for the creditors and the church,” said attorney Todd Ringstad, who represents the creditors.
With the ruling, “we have a thousand plus checks to write” to creditors who have been awaiting payment since the cathedral filed for bankruptcy in 2010, said attorney Nanette Sanders.
John Charles, chief executive officer of the Crystal Cathedral, said in an e-mail: “A long and difficult period in the history of the Crystal Cathedral is over.
“The ruling will enable the final creditors to be paid and give us the money we need to move on with our ministry, spreading a message of hope and love to the people of Orange County and, through the ‘Hour of Power,’ to the world,” Charles wrote. “The trial was painful for everyone involved, and our congregation is ready to move on. We love the Schullers and wish them well.”
The elder Schullers, their daughter, Milner, and son-in-law Tim Milner will now be among the unsecured creditors vying for a piece of the approximate $17 million available for disbursement. The creditors are owed approximately $14 million, Sanders said.
Kwan rejected most of the $272,000 in claims submitted by the Milners, and instead allowed $10,615 to Schuller’s daughter for a housing allowance and $67,000 for Tim Milner for two of his claims.
After the creditors are paid, any remaining money will go to the Crystal Cathedral Ministries, which sold its Garden Grove campus to the Catholic Diocese of Orange and is looking to move to another site next summer.
Robert Schuller took the stand on Wednesday in his trial against Crystal Cathedral Ministries. Schulller and his wife say the ministry owes them at least $5 million dollars. Here are some details of the proceedings from the Orange County Register:
Throughout his nearly two hours of testimony, Schuller was firm on one idea: he had always allowed the Crystal Cathedral to use his books and other works without receiving royalties but the work was his nonetheless – and not property of the ministry.
“We never had anything in writing. We just had an understanding,” Schuller said – “a gentleman’s understanding.”
As long as the ministry did not sell his materials to competitors, they could use them for the profit of the Crystal Cathedral. One of the most common uses was the church’s give-away of books to donors of the Hour of Power television program. Schuller did not receive royalties for the books, sharing all the profits with the church, he said.
“I allowed the ministry to use it,” Schuller testified. “I did not give ownership to any one.”
Questioned by his own attorney, Carl Grumer, Schuller said the church could use his materials –”always with my approval.”
He repeatedly stated, in response to opposing counsel’s questions, that he did not expect compensation to himself or to his corporation, Robert H. Inc., for the use of his materials.
Schuller also said that his wife, Arvella, who testified on Tuesday and again Wednesday morning, was in charge of the finances.
At times, Schuller appeared to contradict previous sworn statements filed in court documents. For example, a declaration he signed stated the Crystal Cathedral Ministries exploited his intellectual property on the Internet.
But when asked about it on Wednesday, Schuller said he did not know. When asked again by his own attorney if the Crystal Cathedral had permission to sell his material on the Internet, Schuller said: “I need to discuss that with the Lord.”
Schuller had trouble remembering answers to other questions, including statements he had made in a court declaration and a sworn deposition.
For example: does the ministry owe him $55,226 for a housing allowance? asked attorney Todd Ringstad, who represents the creditors owed money following the 2010 bankruptcy of the Crystal Cathedral.
“I didn’t even know they owe me that. I don’t try to remember what people owe me,” Schuller responded.
Robert and Arvella are seeking $5 million.
Here’s the story from the Orange County Register:
Schuller and his wife, Arvella, seek more than $5 million. Meanwhile, the outcome of the trial will have an impact on creditors who have been waiting to be paid since the Crystal Cathedral Ministries filed for bankruptcy in 2010.
“We’re just hoping that it’s soon over, so we can just move on,” said John Charles, chief executive officer of the Crystal Cathedral Ministries. “It’s been painful for both sides.”
Carol Schuller Milner, a Schuller daughter who along with her husband, Tim, also has claims in the trial scheduled in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, said: “This is really grieving us. We don’t pursue conflict. We believe in reconciliation.”
The elder Schullers filed a number of claims for breach of contract and copyright infringements. The largest claim seeks damages for the rejection of an agreement between them and the ministry written prior to Rev. Schuller leaving his post as senior pastor in 2005.
In that agreement, the church agreed to provide for Robert H. and Arvella Schuller until their deaths. It included payments of $119,000 per year in housing allowance, $20,065 for insurance annually and $198,000 per year to Schuller’s corporation, Robert Harold, Inc. Both Schullers are in their 80s.
Starting in late 2008, as the ministry faced aneconomic downturn and a decline in donations, the Schullers were paid less. When the ministryfiled for bankruptcy, all payments stopped. And in the reorganization plan, the agreement with the Schullers was rejected.
Payments also stopped to Carol and Tim Milner. She was employed for $10,000 monthly to do work related to her father’s intellectual property. He worked as an independent contractor on various services, including fundraising and arranging the reverend’s speaking engagements. Their claims total approximately $189,000, according to court documents.
The elder Schullers have been criticized for using their power and influence over the years togive themselves and their children generous salaries, housing allowances and other benefits, even after the church began to struggle financially.
Carol Milner disputes the idea that her parents and siblings are wealthy or took advantage of the church.
“People have said the big, bad Schullers took all this money, but in reality we were running a $60 million organization. And we gave it our all,” she said.
“My parents did not become wealthy as the result of the church,” Milner said.
Well, it’s all come down to this.
All the Schullers are out. Most have been booted and fired from the board and their positions.
And CC senior pastor Sheila Schuller Coleman announced Sunday: ”This is the last Sunday we will be worshiping in this building.”
She’s leaving to start a new church, location yet to be determined (even though it starts this Sunday).
“My entire family has been experiencing a hostile work environment,” said Coleman.
Right after she made the announcement, another CC pastor, Bill Bennett, assured the people gathered at the CC that they would meet, as usual, at the CC next Sunday, just like always.
And the format will go back to traditional worship… organ, choir, the whole she-bang.
So now, the Crystal Cathedral, for the first time ever, has virtually no Schuller at the helm or on the board. None.
And what are Robert and Arvella doing? According to a statement from Arvella (Sheila’s mother):
“We will bless her faith pursuits as we have blessed all our children, but we will not be moving with her to the new location nor are we willing, at this time, to commit to participating in worship at the Crystal Cathedral… How we will express ourselves in worship remains up in the air.”
Who will be the new senior pastor at the Crystal Cathedral? No one seems to know yet? But one thing’s for sure… they’ll have an uphill battle, including their own physical transition from the CC building within two years, when the Catholic Diocease of Orange becomes the new permanent occupant of the facility they purchased earlier this year.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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!
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