July 03, 2011|By DEEPA BHARATH
The Ousted Schullers
GARDEN GROVE – The Rev. Robert H. Schuller, who started his ministry in an Orange drive-in theater more than five decades ago, has been voted off the board of Crystal Cathedral Ministries, which has been torn apart by debt and familial disharmony for the last several years.
The church has not released information about the board meeting where Schuller, 84, was ousted, but his son Robert A. Schuller, who was himself forced out of the cathedral by his sisters and brothers-in-law three years ago, confirmed it Sunday.
He said his father wanted to enlarge the board, which was not received well by the others.
“A majority of that board consists of paid employees of the church and that’s a serious conflict of interest,” Robert A. Schuller said.
None of the board members or church officials could be reached for comment Sunday.
The elder Schuller, who had been a non-voting but influential member of the board with the title chairman emeritus, could not be reached for comment either.
Schuller said his mother Arvella, a board member, voted against it, but was in the minority.
“It’s a very sad day and unfortunately, I know how that feels,” the younger Schuller said.
The church’s financial travails, including a significant drop in donations and dwindling membership, culminated in its filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The church still owes about $7.5 million to unsecured creditors, many of whom are vendors for the cathedral’s “Glory of Christmas” pageant. According to a reorganization plan filed by church last month, they have an offer from Irvine developer, Greenlaw Partners LLC, to buy the core buildings for $46 million.
Under the proposal, the church would have a 15-year leaseback agreement with the developer and the option to buy the properties back for $30 million in four years. In exchange the developer will be able to build hundreds of apartment units in a portion of the 30-acre campus.
In 2008, two years after he received his father’s gold medallion, a symbol of the church’s leadership, Robert A. Schuller quit as senior pastor and his sister, Sheila Schuller Coleman, took control of the ministry. The younger Schuller says his departure was spurred by a vote on July 9, 2008 by the board. That vote, too, shot down Robert A. Schuller’s proposal to bring in new board members and end conflict of interest issues, he said.
Source: Orange County Register
The official family/church line appears to be: “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,” the statement added.
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, Dr. 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.
Several longtime church members and officials said Sunday that they found Robert H. Schuller’s departure from the board startling — and an unsettling reminder that the church’s leadership and finances are in chaos.
“It’s an unusual thing,” said Jim Case, a former board member who also confirmed Schuller’s ouster. “It surprises me.” He said the board’s decision was part of an ongoing “power grab.”
Dory Bauler, 82, of Laguna Woods, has been a church member since 1972. She called the news of Schuller’s departure, “the most heartbreaking thing in the world.”
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? Many fear it could end up a mosque.
Seems Pianist Roger Williams saying: Schuller kids spoiled Crystal Cathedral wasn’t so wrong?!?
Photo: Exterior of The Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove in 2010. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times
This beautiful ministry and campus were Dr. Robert H. Schuller’s dream that he says were inspired by God and built to last to honor God, long after he was gone. Other’s say Schuller Sr. was too vain and this dream was to honor himself. And if you look at what is going on inside that church and with Schuller’s children… others will now say how can you preach to the world if you couldn’t keep your own family in check.