By Marion Algier – Ask Marion
Arvella Schuller, wife of Pastor Robert H. Schuller and Co-Founder of the Crystal Cathedral who was known as the “first lady” of the Crystal Cathedral Ministries went home to be with the Lord on the February 11th, 2014 after a short illness. She passed away at UCI and the specific cause of her death was not released.
Carol Schuller Milner said her mother passed away unexpectedly and peacefully on Tuesday; Arvella was 84. Many were shocked that she went before her husband who has had on-going health problems.
Arvella and her husband launched a ministry at the Orange County drive-in in Orange, California, in 1955.
Then in 1970, they founded the Crystal Cathedral and the weekly “Hour of Power” broadcast, which Mrs. Schuller produced and directed.
“She was the power behind the Hour of Power,” her grandson, Bobby Schuller, wrote in a message on the ministry’s website. “Her music, vision, and care for the message has touched countless hearts.”
Many believed she was the power behind her husband, but the was the front man
At its peak, the “Hour of Power” was watched by over 20 million viewers weekly and their pageants, the Glory or Christmas, the Glory of Easter and for one season the Glory of Creation were magnificent and world renowned. But for a variety of reasons including in-fighting and financial mismanagement, the ministry sadly filed for bankruptcy in 2010.
Mrs. Schuller is survived by her husband of 63 years; five children… son Robert and daughters Sheila Coleman, Jeanne Dunn, Carol Milner and Gretchen Penner; 19 grandchildren; two sisters; and a brother.
The family had a private service for their matriarch, but then a memorial service was held for Arvella Schuller in the Arboretum at Christ Cathedral (formerly named Crystal Cathedral) in Garden Grove which was “well attended,” said Dorie Mattson, a former director with the ministry for more than 20 years. Dorie was in charge of the Angels for the Glories among other duties.
Mattson wrote a memorial tribute column in which she wrote, “In her lecture entitled, ‘Worship: The Inspirational Hour,’ Mrs. Schuller spoke passionately on how the purpose of art was found in the priority of praise. This passion, was exemplified through her artistic endeavors on the ‘Hour of Power’ television ministry, as well as the children’s and Glories ministries.
“Her passion embodied the words of Martin Luther who wrote that … ‘all the arts, especially music should be used in the service of Him who gave and made them.'”
One of Arvella’s early roles in the church she co-founded five decades ago, was being the organist. She also sang in the choir. But later, she helped create and produce the “Hour of Power” television ministry that began as a live, local broadcast that would eventually reach millions of viewers globally. And everyone who knew her said Arvella was the power behind that ministry!
“She was the brains behind the church,” said broadcaster Ed Arnold, a volunteer announcer with the “Hour of Power,” beginning it 1970, when it first aired. “[Robert Schuller] came up with the ideas, they would go over them together and she carried them out.” And so it probably was throughout all areas of their lives.
I, having been a former parishioner and cast member in the Glories, had occasion to see Arvella in action and saw her speak several times at the Crystal Cathedral’s Women’s Conferences and can verify that she was a formidable presence and spoke her mind.
I always remember a dear friend of mine from the cast of the Glories who was one of the early angels, whose costumes and looks have changed through the years, telling me a story of Arvella’s walk-through one year when casting decided to put Dolly Parton type blonde wigs on the gals flying as the Angels for the Glory of Christmas production that year. She said from high up you could see Arvella’s eyes growing to the size of saucers and the disdain on her face. By the time the girls got back down to the dressing room, Arvella had left the building but the wigs were collected and never seen again.
Arvella Shuller died the day before Shirley Temple Black who also passed of natural causes at age 85