People That Worship in Glass Churches


Inquiring minds are on Garden Grove, CA where the Crystal Cathedral has filed for bankruptcy. The church, founded in the mid-1950s by the Rev. Robert H. Schuller Sr., has already taken major steps to regain solvency:

The Crystal Cathedral, the birthplace of television’s Hour of Power, has filed for bankruptcy in Southern California after struggling to emerge from debt that exceeds $43 million.

In addition to a $36 million mortgage, the Orange County-based church owes $7.5 million to several hundred vendors for services ranging from advertising to the use of live animals in Easter and Christmas services.

The church…has already ordered major layoffs, cut the number of stations airing the Hour of Power, and sold property to stay afloat. In addition, the 10,000-member church canceled this year’s “Glory of Easter” pageant, which attracts thousands of visitors and is a regional holiday staple.

Vendors owed money by the church formed a committee in April and agreed to a moratorium to negotiate a repayment plan with the Crystal Cathedral. The church had been negotiating a repayment plan with these vendors, but several filed lawsuits seeking quicker payment:

Kristina Oliver, whose Hemet-based company provided live animals for the church’s “Glory of Christmas” manger scene, said she doubts she will recover in full the $57,000 she is owed: “The church never made any kind of advancement that they wanted to pay their debt, that they were willing to try to make it happen and every time we tried they told us, ‘You can’t tell us how to run our business.’”

This prompted the creditor coalition to fall apart, church officials said:

“Tough times never last, every storm comes to an end. Right now, people need to hear that message more than ever,” Sheila Schuller Coleman, the Cathedral’s senior pastor and daughter of its founder, told reporters Monday outside the worship hall “Everybody is hurting today. We are no exception.”

There were so many churches in California growing their campuses during the last decade it will be interesting to see how many others are forced to travel down this primrose path of economic hell:

The Crystal Cathedral and other large churches have suffered from the recession and reduced charitable giving.

The Cyrstal Cathedral folks have learned the error of their ways:

Now, the church is avoiding credit entirely and spends only the roughly $2 million it receives each month in donations and revenue, said Jim Penner, a church pastor and producer of the Hour of Power. The church still hopes to pay all of the vendors back in full, he said.

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