by Matt Lacy —
After years of financial struggles, the Crystal Cathedral is finally “coming home” as the congregation will be getting a new name after the facility became the property of the Roman Catholic Church last month.
Under the terms of the $57.5 million sale, the ministry would be allowed to remain and worship at the facility for three years while leasing the building from the diocese for $100,000 per month the first year and $150,000 a month the remaining two years.
The church has faced many financial difficulties including filing for bankruptcy two years ago, which led to the sale of the Crystal Cathedral building to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange County.
The sale to the Catholic Church is somewhat interesting when one remembers a statement made by Schuller in 1987.
During a meeting with Pope John Paul II in Los Angeles, he said, “It’s time for Protestants to go to the shepherd [Pope] and say ‘what do we have to do to come home?” While he was planning to build the Crystal Cathedral, Schuller made a special trip to Rome to ask for the Pope’s blessing on the building plans.
With the sale of the facility completed it appears to have in fact, “come home.”
While services will continue to be held at the facility, senior pastor, Sheila Schuller Coleman announced in services that she was leaving the Crystal Cathedral to start a new church, citing what she called an “adversarial” relationship between her family and the board.
The ministry will now be called Hope Center of Christ, Coleman said in a brief video posted on the church’s website Saturday. The megachurch’s new location will be revealed in the weeks ahead.
Also, last weekend founder Dr. Robert H Schuller and his wife Arvella announced they were stepping down from the church board.
Carol Schuller Miner said her parents have been engaged in a legal conflict with the board over copyright infringement and back payment for services. While the Schuller’s have reportedly made numerous offers to settle the claims, the board informed the couple last week they “had no interest in continuing their dialogue.”
“We cannot continue to serve on the Board in what has become an adversarial and negative atmosphere, especially since it now seems that it will not be ending anytime soon,” Arvella Schuller said Saturday in response to the board’s decision.”
Last week the Cathedral fired Schuller’s daughter, Gretcher Penner, producer of the Hour of Power television broadcast and her husband Jim Penner, the show’s executive producer.
Church officials said the move was part of an effort to revamp the television program which reaches millions of American viewers on a weekly basis. Among the proposed changes being discussed are reducing the show to 30 minutes in Canada and possibly in some US markets.
Schuller became well known for his “gospel of positiveness and success” and “possibility thinking.”
He said he believed there was a basic flaw in traditional Christian teaching. In his book Self-Esteem he said, “What is that basic flaw? I believe is it the failure to proclaim the gospel in a way that can satisfy every person’s deepest need – one’s spiritual hunger for glory. Rather than glorify God’s highest creation – the human being – Christian liturgies, hymns, prayers, and scriptural interpretations have often insensitively and destructively offended the dignity of the person…”
Schuller was criticized by conservative Baptists and evangelicals who said his preaching made sinners feel so comfortable they did not feel there was a need to trust Christ as their Saviour.