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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. 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. Pat Robertson. 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. Perry Noble. 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 Furtick. Steven will really freak out if, in fact, the sun really does stand still for a day. Didn’t happen… thank goodness. Megachurch Merger. 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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S4haIvqBzYM 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.   Social Media. 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. Mobile Devices. 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). Gospel Coalitions. 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. Tim Tebow. Super Bowl ring.  If not, it blows the whole “God” theory thing. What?  No Super Bowl ring?  What was God thinking? Humility check time. Denominations. 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. Yep.  Here and here. Southern Baptists. 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. Doomsday. 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?
Todd Subscribe to me on YouTube
   
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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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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. // Read more here…
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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. More here…
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From the Orange County Register: On Friday, the first day of testimony, attorneys began to build their arguments through questions to Arvella Schuller and her son-in-law, Timothy Milner, a former employee of the cathedral who was fired last year. The elder Schullers are suing for more than $5 million for money they said is due to them following the rejection of the transition agreement during bankruptcy proceedings. They also are suing for an unspecified amount in copyright infringement claims. Their daughter, Carol Schuller Milner, and her husband are suing for approximately $272,000 in various claims, including salaries the ministry stopped paying them when it entered bankruptcy. Arvella Schuller said she was never paid for her work for the church, also called a consistory: “That was my gift to God.” But the Hour of Power program fell under a separate entity, the Crystal Cathedral Ministries. The two were to be kept separate, she said. “My husband and Dr. Billy Graham said, ‘We must never allow the television ministry to bankrupt the church,” Schuller testified. “The church was kept separate. That was sacred.” Interviewed by opposing counsel, Schuller was repeatedly asked about a $198,000 annual payment to her and her husband. Was it for her services on the Hour of Power or for her and her husband’s intellectual property? The 83-year-old appeared to give different answers, but she emphasized there is a difference between a royalty and a license. Ringstad called her testimony inconsistent. The Schullers’ attorney, Carl Grumer, said her testimony will be clarified when she returns to the stand Wednesday and he questions her. Meanwhile, sitting toward the front with his daughter and son-in-law was Rev. Robert H. Schuller. During one of the brief breaks between his wife’s three-and-a-half hours of testimony, she approached him for a kiss. His first words to her: “This is very unpleasant.” Carol Milner, Schuller’s daughter, said afterwards: “It’s too bad that at this stage of their lives, they have to go through this, after all they’ve done for the church.” A key issue in the trial will be the Rev. Schuller’s role in his church and whether he was an employee. Attorneys for the creditors and the Crystal Cathedral Ministries questioned his wife on where Schuller worked. He had an office at the cathedral but he also worked at home and at a Laguna Beach condo they owned and donated to Crystal Cathedral in the 1990s. He also had a favorite rock on Corona del Mar where he liked to look at the ocean because “water calmed him,” she said. Another key issue during the month-long trial will be copyright issues. Starting in the early 1990s, The Hour of Power television show was registered under the Crystal Cathedral Ministries. Arvella Schuller at first said she did not recall the copyright issue. Ringstad said it was done at a time when controversy surrounded televangelists Jim Baker and Jimmy Swaggart. The Schullers did not want to “be painted with the same brush,” Ringstad said, so they copyrighted the show under the Ministries instead of the senior pastor. Arvella Schuller said that regardless of who registered for the copyright, the content of the shows belong to its creators: her and her husband. Earlier in the morning, her son-in-law testified about his work for the ministry. Tim Milner said he typically worked 9 to 5 and one of his primary roles after the bankruptcy was filed was to try to secure big donors, but he did not succeed. Ringstad asked Milner if either of the cathedral’s two limousines were ever sent to pick up his paycheck. Milner said: “I have no idea.” Read more here.
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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. You can read more here… Todd
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Controversy
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? Todd
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Current Events
The Boulder, Colo. house where child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey was brutally murdered is up for sale again. The house, purchased in 2004 by Crystal Cathedral founder Robert H. Schuller’s son-in-law, Tim Milner and daughter Carol Schuller Milner, has been listed at $2.3 million, according to an Associated Press report. The Milners bought the 7,000-square-foot home for $1.05 million. Tim Milner at the time was quoted in a local newspaper saying that the house was “perfect for the family.” In 2007, the Milners renovated the house, according to an article in the Boulder Daily Camera. The newspaper stated that the basement where JonBenet’s strangled, beaten body was found was being finished into a recreation room with a wet bar and a wine cellar by the Milners. According to the plans, the utility room where JonBenet was eventually found dead was left unaltered. The home was valued at about $1.8 million in December, according to Boulder Realtor Beth Mason. It was on the market from May 2009 to January 2010, but was taken off the market, she said in December. The Milners moved back to Orange County after they were bothered by curious onlookers, according to news reports. via Schuller family list JonBenet Ramsey home for $2.3 million | jon – News – The Orange County Register. PLEASE NOTE:  The Schullers say that no church money was used to purchase this home.  This was a personal purchase. But the story just gets weirder and weirder, doesn’t it?
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