(Photo: Reuters/Alex Gallardo)
Crystal Cathedral Ministries is in the process of paying vendors, some of whom have been waiting for years for their check to come in.
According to an agreement reached last Friday, CCM will give payments to the Rev. Robert H. Schuller and other creditors while Schuller's appeal goes through the court system.
The news came a few days after Schuller, who founded CCM in 1955, filed an appeal through Robert Harold, Inc. regarding the breach of contract suit he lost in late November.
With the deal, during Christmas week creditors received payments from CCM. Schuller was also granted $615,625 last month by Judge Robert Kwan of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Los Angeles.
For its part, Crystal Cathedral Ministries in Garden Grove will be receiving $500,000; about 1,000 other creditors will get an estimated $12.7 million.
Todd Ringstad, an attorney for the creditors, told the Orange County Register that the long awaited agreement was "a compromise by everybody to get the creditors paid."
"Creditors have been waiting a long time. We can work late into the night. The creditors deserve it," said Ringstad to the Register regarding how officials worked late Friday to get the proper amounts sent out.
In November, Judge Robert Kwan awarded the 86-year-old former church leader $615,625 regarding the Schuller family's suit against Crystal Cathedral Ministries over claims of breach of contract. While a sizable sum, the awarded amount fell well below the estimated $5 million sought by Schuller over allegations of breach of contract, copyright infringement and intellectual-property rights by his former ministry.
Schuller and his wife, Arvella, founded Crystal Cathedral Ministries in 1955, which grew to be one of the largest Christian ministries in California. In 2010, CCM had to file for bankruptcy as it faced lawsuits for the debts it owed vendors from the 2009 "Glory of Christmas" production.
Schuller is now claiming that administrators of the ministry used his books and other works for their ministry even after he resigned as chairman.
"We never had anything in writing. We just had an understanding," the former megachurch leader said, "a gentleman's understanding."
Carol Schuller Milner, the couple's daughter, also filed claims in the case, and was awarded along with her husband Tim Milner $77,615 last month. The Milners decided to not appeal the decision.
"We want to move on," said Milner. "My husband and I still look forward to a future of success in ministry and business. But my parents are in a place where they can't move on. They're in their 80s."
Pam House, a Crystal Cathedral elder who had attended the court hearing in which Schuller testified, remarked in a statement that "It didn't have to be this way."
"If they had been more open about their finances, like other churches, and worked as a team, maybe we all could have worked on this together and prevented the bankruptcy," said House.
The Crystal Cathedral church is now called "Christ Cathedral" after the Garden Grove property was purchased by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange for $57.5 million last year. It is expected to be the largest Roman Catholic sanctuary outside the Vatican.