(Photo: Reuters/Alex Gallardo)
The Rev. Robert H. Schuller, founder of the historic Crystal Cathedral Ministries in Garden Grove, Calif., has spoken out about the sale of the church to a Roman Catholic diocese, reassuring concerned observers that the church's beliefs are not going to suddenly change.
"The Roman Catholic Church isn't going to change its theologies," Schuller said in an interview with the Los Angeles Times published Sunday. "I trust them."
The ministry's decision to sell the famous building to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange County raised some controversy at first. In the Sunday interview, the 85-year-old minister said he has always respected the Roman Catholic faith and considers it the "mother church."
The Schuller family, which worked with a board of creditors in the bankruptcy trial, originally endorsed a different bidder for their signature glass property – Chapman University, which was the highest bidder with a $59 million offer. However, on Nov.17, the Schullers "reluctantly" endorsed the $57.5 million bid of the Roman Catholic diocese, a decision supported by the creditors. The diocese's terms require the ministry to leave the premises within three years.
The Crystal Cathedral worship facility, boldly covered with 10,000 glass panes, was designed by renowned architect Philip Johnson. The notable structure has attracted admirers since its erection in 1980. The main hall of the iconic church building seats 2,800 worshipers.
"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," the Rev. Schuller said at the time.
Crystal Cathedral has not been doing well financially since 2002, and a year ago, administrators filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Since then, members have been trying to save the church, donating money from their own pockets, which proved not enough to pull the church out of its estimated $50 million debt.
When, on Nov. 30, senior pastor Sheila Schuller Coleman published a video address to the ministry's supporters, many expressed faith that the church might still be saved at the eleventh hour.
"We still have a time. Let us Pray for Ministry. Let us pray for future," one supporter wrote on the church's Facebook page.
In the interview with the LA Times, the Rev. Schuller said he drew inspiration for his popular televangelical show, the "Hour of Power," from Catholic Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. Sheen hosted night-time radio program "The Catholic Hour" for 20 years, and then hosted a television program, "Life Is Worth Living" in the 1950s.
Orange County Roman Catholic Bishop Tod Brown told the LA Times that the newly acquired property will become "the heart and center for our Catholic community."