(Photo: Reuters/Alex Gallardo)
Despite the Crystal Cathedral's attempts to prevent the sale of the iconic glass church, a federal bankruptcy judge agreed Wednesday to move forward with the sale as creditors look to be paid back millions of dollars.
Nearly 400 creditors were given a timeline to vote on a sale plan for the Garden Grove, Calif., megachurch. Already, they have received several offers, with the highest bid coming from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange for $53.6 million.
"Everyone is looking to have a sale occur as soon as possible," said Nanette Sanders, attorney for the creditors, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The Crystal Cathedral, founded by Robert H. Schuller, 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.
Along with past due expenses, the church was also experiencing revenue decline.
In May, the Crystal Cathedral, currently led by Senior Pastor Sheila Schuller Coleman, announced that it would place the Orange County church on the market to resolve its financial woes. The original plan included the sale of the 40-acre campus to a real estate group with a guaranteed option of leasing it back for 15 years. The church would also have the option later of buying back the Crystal Cathedral.
A few months later, Crystal Cathedral Ministries Board Member Walt Kallestad said that church leaders decided not to sell the property. Instead, they would raise $50 million through a fundraising campaign.
Currently, the church's website states "Help save the Crystal Cathedral" and directs people to make donations.
The creditors committee, tasked with recovering $50 million in debt from the ministry, threatened to sue if the church impeded the sale of the property.
After Wednesday's hearing, creditors have been given one month to decide on an exit plan and vote on a buyer.
A confirmation hearing has been scheduled for Nov. 14 when the plan will be officially approved.
Other potential buyers include Chapman University, My Father's House International Church in Norco, and Hobby Lobby.