Southern California’s famed Crystal Cathedral is making “cuts to the heart of our ministry” following a 27 percent drop in revenue – from $30 million in 2008 to $22 million in 2009 – and with a drop in this year’s revenue anticipated.
In an announcement Friday, the Garden Grove, Calif.-based megachurch announced that its San Juan Capistrano location would shut down its operations following a decision by Crystal Cathedral Ministries’ International Board of Trustees.
That same day, the church said it was canceling its annual “Glory of Easter” pageant, the renowned live stage production that the church has presented every year for nearly three decades.
The church’s founder, the Rev. Robert H. Schuller, said it was "with great sadness that the Board of Directors of the Crystal Cathedral Ministries announces that after long prayer and deliberation, the Ministry through the 2010 Glory of Easter production will not be held due to severe economic downturn.”
"We ask that the entire church be united in prayer as we, the Crystal Cathedral congregation, share the triumphant message of Easter with those who regularly come to the campus and to our worship services,” added Schuller.
"In my 2009 Christmas Eve message, I shared the sentence, ‘A Set Back is a Set Up for a Comeback’ so we anticipate a positive turnaround in our country as we look forward to the 2010 Glory of Christmas and 2011 Glory of Easter. We dedicate ourselves to making that happen.”
In addition to the setbacks announced Friday, Crystal Cathedral is also reportedly laying off 50 workers and may pull its once-popular "Hour of Power" television show in up to eight markets.
Though some speculate that the drop in revenue is connected to the family feud that ensued following Schuller’s retirement a few years ago, Crystal Cathedral spokesman John Charles told the Los Angeles Times that the dispute had no effect.
“It is the economy,” he said. “We have a lot of older, retired people."
In 2008, the Rev. Robert A. Schuller, who succeeded his father the year before, stepped down as senior pastor over the “lack of shared vision and the jeopardy in which this [was] placing this entire ministry.”
“[I]t has become necessary for Robert and me to part ways in the Hour of Power television ministry to each pursue our own unique God-ordained visions,” the older Schuller reported in a statement on Oct. 28, 2008.
Since then, the megachurch founder has tapped his daughter, 58-year-old Sheila Schuller Coleman, to co-lead Crystal Cathedral with him, serving as the church’s “directing leader.”
In a prepared statement this past week, Coleman encouraged the congregation to “hang in there and be smart about surviving the downturn in the economy,” saying that “this storm will pass and we will be OK and we can begin to grow again as a ministry.”
Founded over 50 years ago, Crystal Cathedral is internationally known for its "Hour of Power" broadcast, once said to be the most-watched Christian program worldwide.
The church, which is affiliated with the Reformed Church in America, is also known for the architecture of its main sanctuary building, which was constructed using over 10,000 rectangular panes of glass.
The church claims to have over 10,000 members and holds three services in its 2,900-capacity sanctuary every Sunday.