- (Photo: Reuters/Alex Gallardo)
Sheila Schuller Coleman, the daughter of Robert H. and Arvella Schuller, founders of Crystal Cathedral Ministries, said in a statement Thursday that although the ministry's board has "reluctantly" agreed to sell its signature property, it is still not too late for a miracle to emerge in its bankruptcy case, and that the congregation will remain the same.
The decision to sell the ministry to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange County fell Thursday at the Santa Ana bankruptcy court in California, as Judge Robert N. Kwan approved the move, The Associated Press reported.
The diocese will pay $57.5 million to use the building, but under the terms of this deal, the ministry will have to leave the premises within three years. That is why many congregants reportedly supported the other bidder in the case, Chapman University.
"Many of you know that we’ve been praying for a miracle here at the Crystal Cathedral, and we are believing in a miracle," Schuller said in the video statement. "And least you think that it's too late for a miracle, I want to reassure you and remind you that it is not too late. There is still time for God to step in and rescue Crystal Cathedral Ministries."
The daughter of the famous ministry's founding pastor also said that the board had no choice but to sell the property. She explained why the ministry chose to endorse the diocese's bid.
"There have been so many things written about the Catholic plan and I know one reason why people were so dismayed with that possibility was because it does mean that we would have to vacate the premises in three years time, whereas some people thought there was a possibility with Chapman that we would be able purchase back the Crystal Cathedral."
But in reality, Schuller said, the university's offer contained "many challenges." One of them was that the Chapman University deal would not allow the church's youth program, fellowship classes or Bible study to continue, Schuller said.
The board would also not be able to afford to purchase the property back, she said.
Many church members who were reportedly disappointed that their church is being sold to the Roman Catholic diocese, might appreciate the explanation. Under the terms of the agreement with the diocese, the ministry will have to leave the premises within three years. Many congregants are very attached to that building, which has hosted the congregation for almost 60 years.
But Schuller assured congregants, that if the miracle does not happen, and if the congregation has to move, they will move all together and remain a joint ministry.
"We all know that a church is not a building," Schuller said in the statement. "The church is you, and it’s me. And that's why we will always be here for you."
"It [the Crystal Cathedral property] will become a true center for our Catholic community in Orange County," Bishop Tod D. Brown told reporters after Thursday's packed hearing in federal bankruptcy court.
Crystal Cathedral's founder, the Rev. Robert H. Schuller, expressed in a statement released Thursday that church administrators now support the diocese's $57.5 million bid.
Schuller, who founded the ministry in 1955, said in the Thursday statement that he deeply respects Chapman University, but "the uncertainty regarding the future use of the campus for religious purposes was divergent to the call of both God and our denomination that we embraced nearly sixty years ago."
He also extended a message to the diocese during the Thursday hearing, saying, "Steward this campus. Keep it a light in Orange County that will never go out. A light that will always remind humanity how very much … God loves them and so do we.”