The Rev. Robert H. Schuller hasn’t quite passed the baton of leadership yet following the resignation of his son, Robert A. Schuller, as senior pastor of his famed Crystal Cathedral church.
But the 82-year-old televangelist isn’t holding it alone anymore, according to an announcement first made Sunday to his 10,000-large megachurch and then to the public Wednesday.
“As announced in church this past Sunday, I believe God has called me back to give leadership once again to this ministry,” Schuller wrote in Wednesday’s announcement regarding the elevation of his eldest daughter, 58-year-old Sheila Schuller Coleman, to the rank of “Directing Leader.”
“So, I have committed to giving two more years of casting God's vision for this ministry and Sheila has accepted my request to put legs to the vision,” he added.
Since the resignation of Schuller’s son last November, Crystal Cathedral interim senior pastor Juan Carlos Ortiz has been leading the pastoral staff at the megachurch in cooperation with Rick Mysse, executive director of the Far West Classis of the Reformed Church in America (RCA) – the church’s denomination. Former executive pastor Jim Poit had also been part of the leadership team until his departure from the church staff in January.
In his announcement Wednesday, Schuller thanked Ortiz for his positive impact on the ministry and said he would be carrying on as a teaching pastor at the church, suggesting that Coleman’s elevation satisfies the need for a senior pastor.
An interview Coleman had with the local OC Register appeared to back this conclusion, as Coleman, who previously served as Director of Family Ministries at Crystal Cathedral, said that she never thought she’d head the church – particularly because she is a woman.
"Our church (RCA) didn't even start ordaining women until 1973," she told the Register on Wednesday after revealing that she was ordained only a month ago.
According to Schuller, Coleman’s role will be to ensure that the vision for the ministry is clearly communicated. She will also help assemble teams to provide leadership.
“Sheila believes in empowering laity – the members of the congregation – and has many ideas for involving the laity on these teams, and that includes you,” Schuller wrote to his congregation Wednesday.
In concluding, Schuller said he is “very excited about what God is doing and the amazing future He has for this ministry.”
Meanwhile, the church leadership is also reportedly praying for the “inspirational” new ministry of Schuller’s son, who is currently pursuing his own ministry plans.
Robert A. Schuller recently teamed up with son-in-law and GodTube.com co-founder Chris Wyatt to create ComStar Media Fund, a limited partnership that acquires media properties that globally distribute family-value programming through television, mobile and Internet platforms.
As part of the new venture, ComStar last month acquired the popular “baby boomer” network AmericanLife TV Network (ALN), on which Schuller’s new series will debut this fall.
“I can assure you, it won't be like anything else on television today," the 54-year-old Schuller stated.
In a statement last month, Crystal Cathedral’s leadership praised God for the new outreach of “Robert II,” as he is known, and said the congregation is praying that it will reach people everywhere.
“The current economy places many thousands of persons in positions to seek and welcome the encouraging message that we know Robert will provide through his new and inspired efforts,” the Garden Grove, Calif-.based megachurch added.
One month before he resigned as Crystal Cathedral’s senior pastor, the younger Schuller had been removed from the “Hour of Power” television program he hosted, which for three decades served as the Schuller’s voice and face.
The older Schuller explained in a statement Oct. 28 that the split was the result of a “lack of shared vision” and the “jeopardy” in which it was placing the entire ministry.
Correction: Wednesday, July 21, 2010:
An article on Thursday, June 11, 2009, about the elevation of Sheila Schuller Coleman to the rank of “Directing Leader” at the Garden Grove, Calif.-based Crystal Cathedral incorrectly reported Jim Poit as part of the team leading the megachurch's pastoral staff at that time. According to a church spokesperson, Poit had helped lead the pastoral staff between December 2008 and January 2009. The former executive pastor left the church staff in January 2009.