- (Photo: Reuters/Alex Gallardo)
Crystal Cathedral Ministries has chosen Chapman University to purchase its 40-acre Garden Grove, Calif., property as the megachurch tries to pull out of an estimated $50 million debt.
Chapman was among several interested buyers, which included Hobby Lobby and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange. The university, which offered $50 million for the campus, will reportedly allow Crystal Cathedral to "continue serving its mission," by letting it lease, and eventually buy back its core buildings, The Los Angeles Times reported.
“Chapman University is pleased and honored by the Crystal Cathedral Ministry Board’s decision to select the University as the buyer of the church campus,” the school said in a statement Wednesday.
“We are hopeful that the final decision will favor Chapman, because that outcome would provide the Crystal Cathedral Ministry with the opportunity to go forward using their highly distinctive campus, while providing Chapman with vital space to expand our health sciences programs in fields where graduates are much in demand in California and nationwide.”
According to The Orange County Register, the decision by the board to endorse Chapman’s bid was made “reluctantly” “due to deadlines required by the court.”
"Though the preferred outcome of this bankruptcy is to raise the funds needed for the ministries to remain the owner of the entire campus, there loomed a deadline imposed by the creditors' committee to select between the two offers approved by the committee," Robert H. Schuller, founder of the Crystal Cathedral, reportedly said in a statement.
"All the creditors will be paid, and the Crystal Cathedral ministries will continue," he said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Crystal Cathedral filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last October as it faced lawsuits for the debts it owed vendors from the 2009 "Glory of Christmas" production.
Earlier this month, Schuller and his family were accused by creditors of profiting at their expense and at the expense of the congregation while the religious institution was undergoing bankruptcy. The Schullers were accused of drawing income from the ministry's endowment fund to cover their own salaries.
Schuller denied the allegations on Oct. 5 this year.
"This lawsuit makes serious and untrue allegations regarding myself and my family," he told The Los Angeles Times at the time. "It is unfortunate that I will have to defend this lawsuit only to prove what is true."
For the last several months, the Crystal Cathedral has been trying to collect $50 million through a fundraising campaign. But despite the megachurch’s attempts to prevent the sale of the church, a federal bankruptcy judge agreed last month to move forward with the sale as creditors look to be paid back.
Nearly 400 creditors were given a timeline to vote on a sale plan for the church.
While the Crystal Cathedral Ministries’ board is backing Chapman University’s bid, the selection of the buyer must be approved by the bankruptcy judge, Robert Kwan. According to the university, the hearing on confirmation of the reorganization plan is scheduled for Nov. 14.
"Nothing is final until Nov. 14," said Sheila Schuller Coleman, Crystal Cathedral's senior pastor, according to The Orange County Register. Pastor Schuller added that she would continue to pray and believe.