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Leadership
As you probably know by now, Robert Schuller past away last week. I never met Robert Schuller, but followed his ministry from a distance over the years. I remember watching him when I was a small boy.  I liked his booming voice.  And the pipe organ was amazing (remember, this was in the 1970s!). And I was too young to know that his theology probably didn’t match up all that well with my local fundamentalist baptist church.  (Oh… the innocence of youth!) And, of course, in recent years I followed the collapse of the Crystal Cathedral; and the personal life of Robert and Arvella Schuller; and often wrote about it here. I found the story fascinating. keep reading
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From the Orange County Register: The Rev. Robert H. Schuller filed an appeal to a judge’s ruling in a case that pits the well-known religious leader against the Crystal Cathedral Ministries he founded. Schuller and his corporation, Robert Harold Inc., filed an appeal Tuesday to Judge Robert Kwan’s ruling last month in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. Schuller had originally filed claims for breach of contract, copyright infringement and intellectual-property rights. Kwan ruled, among other things, that Schuller was an employee and that under an employment contract, he was limited to one year’s compensation. Kwan awarded Schuller $615,625, a fraction of the amount sought by Schuller and family members. In a Nov. 26 ruling, the judge also rejected claims filed by Schuller’s wife, Arvella, as well as most of the claims submitted by daughter Carol Schuller Milner and her husband, Tim. Instead, Kwan awarded the Milners $77,615. Milner said she and her husband are not appealing the judge’s ruling. // So… I guess we’ll be hearing more about this in 2013 as well.  Argh. SOURCE
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It’s time for this week’s installment of The Filter with Matt Steen and myself. What are we trying to prove?  Nothing, really… it’s just two normal guys talking about ‘churchy’ stuff… the things that interest us in the church and ministry leadership world. We hope that you will be challenged. We think you’ll probably disagree with us (at least once each week). But if love  Jesus, and the church, we think you just might like The Filter. Just sayin’.  Here’s this week’s episode for your viewing pleasure: SHOW NOTES: Why we need to let our online memories go (0:01) Schullers lose in big-time in court… still get $615,625 (4:05) Pat Robertson admits he missed God’s voice on the election… (6:10) Is John MacArthur going multisite? (12:25) When America’s Pastor Goes Gangham Style (15:19) Rick Warren on gay marriage (19:19) The Cheering Stops for Fireman Ed (24:50) The Annual Christmas vs Holiday Tree Debate (29:55) My Take: #GivingTuesday creates better Christmas narrative than Black Friday (33:20) True or False: If you’re not growing, something’s wrong (36:55) What would happen if North Point Church exploded (literally)? (42:50)
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Current Events
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. More here… Thoughts? Todd
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Current Events
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…
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Current Events
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. Todd SOURCE
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Current Events
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! Todd via latimes.com.
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Current Events
A $50 million fundraising drive to spare Dr. Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral from the auction block has fallen short. A month after announcing a “miracle faith” campaign to raise the millions owed to creditors, the congregation has collected $4,737. “That figure, the total raised as of August 31, was buried in a report filed last week in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Santa Ana,” reports Ronald Campbell and Deepa Bharath writing for the Orange County Register newspaper. “The cathedral will update the report in two to three weeks, attorney Marc Winthrop said. “Senior Pastor Sheila Schuller Coleman, daughter of founding Pastor Robert Schuller, declared from the pulpit on July 31 that the cathedral was not for sale. She then announced the campaign to repay creditors.” Cathedral spokesman John Charles told the Register the Miracle Faith fund now has “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in it — which would still be short of the $50 million needed. Charles told the Register he was was unable to provide an amount because the financial committee staff member who had that information was traveling and unavailable. via Orange County Register: Crystal Cathedral $50 million fundraiser nets $4,737 – Beliefnet News. $4,737 down.  Only $49,995,263 to go, I guess. QUESTION:  What do you think will ultimately happen to the CC building?  My guess is that they will have to sell the asset to pay the creditors.  The question is… will they be able to lease it back for services.  My guess:  no. What’s yours? Todd
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Current Events
It seems the demise of the Crystal Cathedral was coming for a long, long time.  Look at part of this article (found by my friend DJ Chuang) from a 1990 issue of a Seattle newspaper.  Yes… this was written 21 years ago!
While cathedral officials often speak of their “10,000-member congregation,” statistics turned over to the Reformed Church of America – the denomination to which Schuller belongs – indicate that the number of those who regularly attend and donate to the church has been eroding steadily for several years. In 1984, there were 7,623 active members of the church; by 1989, the number of members making financial pledges had dwindled to 2,027. The church may be packed on Sunday mornings, but often, it’s packed with visitors – not regular members – and visitors usually don’t drop much money into the collection plate. Church officials recognized that they faced a crisis as long ago as 1987, when board member Chuck Salisbury admitted that the “perception that the church was healthy” was untrue. In fact, he said, the congregation had been borrowing money to pay its monthly expenses. In 1989, Schuller conceded that church attendance was still a problem for the cathedral. He placed part of the blame on competition for time from recreational activities, from Little League to shopping malls. The decline in church attendance has been analyzed by church-growth experts, who say the problem has less to do with Sunday morning competition than it has to do with Schuller himself. Schuller has no problem attracting visitors to his church, his problem is converting those visitors into members who will serve as volunteers and tithe, said Joe Webb, a church-growth consultant and an adjunct professor at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif. To make matters worse, Schuller’s television audience, which has traditionally provided the bulk of the ministry’s financial support, has been declining in recent years. Last November, about 1.3 million American households were tuned into the “Hour of Power” on an average Sunday morning. Five years ago, nearly 2 million households tuned in to Schuller’s program on an average Sunday, according to the Arbitron ratings service. Even in the early 1980s – when his congregation was at its peak – church members didn’t contribute enough money to support the Crystal Cathedral. From 1980 to 1986, the TV ministry gave $14.7 million to keep the congregation afloat, and is still subsidizing the congregation, Schuller says. The TV ministry raised about $30 million last year, says Schuller, who points to February’s Arbitron and Nielsen ratings showing them up 100,000 viewers over the year before.
via Seattle Times Newspaper. These things very rarely happen overnight.  And in the case of the CC, things were brewing for this ‘perfect storm’ for more than 20 years! Thoughts? Todd
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Controversy
The founding pastor of Crystal Cathedral, the Rev. Robert H. Schuller, has been reinstated on the board of directors and given back voting rights as two members who called for his ouster last month are dropped from the committee. The church, currently trying to wade its way out of a debt crisis, decided in a meeting last Friday to “expand and enlarge the board,” according to a statement posted Wednesday on the Crystal Cathedral website. Schuller, 84, is identified as Chairman Emeritus in the list of current board members. “This new Board of Directors, created today, is a formula that will guarantee success for both our local Crystal Cathedral ministry and its ministry mission to the people of the world through the televised ‘Hour of Power,’ now in its 43rd year,” Schuller said in the statement. Two board members, Rick Mysse and Gwyn Myers, were voted off the board, church spokesman John Charles told the Orange County Register. He told the news agency that both Mysse and Myers had voted in favor of stripping Schuller of his vote during last June’s meeting. According to Schuller’s daughter, Carol Schuller Milner, neither of her parents attended the meeting in which Schuller was voted off the board, the paper reported. Milner said the pair were “extremely upset” when they learned that Schuller had been voted off. via Crystal Cathedral Returns Schuller’s Voting Rights, Christian News.
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Controversy
Robert H. Schuller, founder of the Crystal Cathedral, said Wednesday that he strongly disapproves of an anti-gay covenant his own church administrators asked choir members to sign, stating that it goes against the principles of tolerance, acceptance and positive thinking on which he built his 50-year-old ministry. Schuller contacted the Register to say he did not know about the existence of such a covenant and would have personally never approved it. Robert H. Schuller spoke against a covenant circulated to the Crystal Cathedral’s choir members, which placed a strong emphasis on members being Christian and heterosexual. “I have a reputation worldwide of being tolerant of all people and their views,” he said. “I’m too well-educated to criticize a certain religion or group of people for what they believe in. It’s called freedom.” The “Crystal Cathedral Worship Choir and Worship Team Covenant,” which choir members have been strongly encouraged to sign, states that members should commit to being Christians by following The Bible in every way. The covenant states: “I understand that in an era where images of family relationship and personal sexuality are often confused, Crystal Cathedral Ministries believes that it is important to teach and model the biblical view. I understand that Crystal Cathedral Ministries teaches that sexual intimacy is intended by God to only be within the bonds of marriage, between one man and one woman.” Some choir members said this week that they were upset by the statements made in the covenant and would refuse to sign the document. Schuller said he supports the view of homosexuality as detailed by the covenant. “That doesn’t mean that we are going to start a crusade against homosexuals,” he said. “But if my church members required covenants, they would no longer live up to the principles of being positive that marks the history of the ministry of Robert H. Schuller.” via The Orange County Register. This quote stood out to me:
I’m too well-educated to criticize a certain religion or group of people for what they believe in.
Maybe that’s the problem.  Too much education. Also this quote:
But if my church members required covenants, they would no longer live up to the principles of being positive that marks the history of the ministry of Robert H. Schuller.
Not even sure what to say there. So a covenant makes one unable to live up to the principles he’s taught?  Oh my. [I, personally, kind of have a problem with covenants and codes myself… not because they’re evil or you have to sign on the dotted line, but they are a symbol of distrust.  If the covenant is based on the Bible, we should be holding each other accountable to those things in the first place.  If we’re not, there’s a lack of trust that no piece of paper will remedy]. Then the article says that Schuller approves of the view of homosexuality in the covenant; just not the covenant itself. What do YOU think?  Does your church have covenants? How do you determine what to put in there? No homosexual activity? No drinking? No more than 2,000 calories a day? No sleeveless tops? No bare midriffs? No driving 65 in a 55? Don’t smoke or chew or run with those who do? What do you think?  Are covenants and code of ethics a good thing?  A necessary thing?  A bad thing? What’s your take? asdf  
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