(Photo: REUTERS/Jonathan Alcorn)
Filmmaker and Christian media consultant Phil Cooke recently offered a word of advice to those upset that their donor bricks at the former Crystal Cathedral in Orange County, Calif. are being replaced with new landscaping. Cooke advised the upset donors to "get a life," and to focus on the act of giving more than the reward of recognition that accompanies it.
The Crystal Cathedral, originally opened in 1981 by evangelical pastor Robert H. Schuller, was sold to the Catholic Diocese in Orange County in 2011 after citing $55 million in debt in a 2010 bankruptcy report. The diocese then announced in June of last year that it would be re-naming the former Crystal Cathedral as "Christ Cathedral," and the iconic, reflective glass building would be remodeled to make it suitable for Roman Catholic services. The diocese is reportedly planning on the new building as serving as its primary cathedral.
Recent reports indicate that those who donated to the Crystal Cathedral in the 1970's,1980's and 1990's had a walkway of bricks engraved with their names constructed at the cathedral. These bricks are now being removed as the Catholic Church plans new landscaping.
Phil Cooke, a Christian media consultant, filmmaker, and founder of Cooke Pictures recently wrote on his blog that he believes the donors upset over their bricks should "get a life."
"Well here's my advice to these donors: Get a life. After all, why did you give in the first place? To build something significant for God and for humanity or to get your name engraved on a sidewalk brick?" Cooke questioned.
"Maybe it's time for a donor reset. Let's rethink why we give and what our expectations should be. The era of the 70's and 80's was the prosperity theology period when people were erroneously taught that God will bless you [when you give to my ministry of course.] The truth is, God does bless givers, but that's not why we should give. It's not about getting our names on a plaque, it's about making a difference," Cooke added.
Still, many donors remain upset that the building will be removing the bricks. An August article written by the Orange County Register quotes some of the donors upset that the 1,800 "Walk of Faith" stones will be removed from the cathedral's premises. Each stone bears a bible quotation and the name of the donor, who had to pay a reported $2,500 to $3,000 to have the stone made in their honor.
One such donor is Judy De Clercq, an 88-year-old widow who says she was very involved with Crystal Cathedral in the 1990's. When she lost her husband in 1996, she asked those attending his funeral to donate to fund a Walk of Faith stone instead of give flowers. When her son died of cancer three years later, she purchased another stone in his honor. "They told me it was going to be there forever," De Clercq said of Crystal Cathedral's promise that the stones would be there for "centuries to come."
The Diocese has confirmed that it will be offering the bricks to those wishing to retrieve them, and will also post digital images of the bricks to the internet so donors can view them at no charge.
Along with removing the bricks, the diocese is planning a whole series of changes to the cathedral that is expected to be fully completed in 2016. Orange County Bishop Kevin W. Vann recently announced that the renovations will include interior upgrades and a restoration of the church's famous organ, known as one of the largest musical instruments in the world. The renovations will be a "reflection of God and his people on earth," Vann said.