(Photo: Reuters/Alex Gallardo)
Crystal Cathedral founder the Rev. Robert H. Schuller and his family have been sued by creditors in the California megachurch's bankruptcy case, according to court documents made public by the Los Angeles Times Monday.
In a legal complaint dated Sept. 30, creditors allege that church administrators, including the Schullers, were borrowing money from Crystal Cathedral's Endowment Fund, therefore receiving good salaries even as the church was experiencing financial malaise. The Crystal Cathedral serves a congregation of more than 10,000 members and broadcasts “The Hour of Power,” the longest-running television church service.
Schuller and his relatives allegedly borrowed about $10 million from the Endowment Fund between 2002 and 2009.
Based on the bankruptcy case, the Schuller family would be the last to receive money after the land on which the Crystal Cathedral stands is sold. However, the founder of the megachurch, and his kin allegedly want to be paid at the same time as other creditors.
That is why the committee of 400 creditors filed the lawsuit, according to the Times.
In 2002, the founding family of the Crystal Cathedral started experiencing financial difficulties, and started borrowing money from the Crystal Cathedral Endowment Fund, according to the case documentation.
The church's financial situation grew even worse after the 2008 recession.
The California-based megachurch was forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in October 2010. At the time, it was faced with lawsuits for money owed to vendors from the 2009 production of "Glory of Christmas" – an additional hit next to a decline in revenue.
"We think that the allegations of the complaint will ultimately be proven to be untrue," Carl Grumer, the Schuller family's lawyer, told the Times.
Crystal Cathedral administrators, who announced a "faith-filled" decision in July to raise $50 million to try to pay off its debt and maintain ownership of the church, have reportedly fallen short in their fundraising efforts. The Schullers have reportedly failed to raise even half of the funds needed to prevent the church from being sold.
The church's bankruptcy woes have attracted several purchasing offers, with the highest bid coming from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange County for $53.6 million.
Other interested buyers include Chapman University, Hobby Lobby and My Father's House International Church in Norco.