Leaders of Crystal Cathedral have announced that selling the California church, laden with nearly $50 million in debt, is no longer an option and say they believe that God is going to turn the church’s situation around for good.
Surprising even church founder Robert H. Schuller, Crystal Cathedral Ministries Board Member Walt Kallestad revealed Sunday that church leaders had done a one-eighty, deciding that the Orange County church “is not for sale” after all, no matter what the Creditors Committee tasked with settling the church's debt have in mind.
The Creditors Committee is responsible for ensuring that Crystal Cathedral's debt is settled and has been going by a bankruptcy reorganization plan that includes sale of the church.
Church members are hoping the judge overseeing their case will grant them permission in court Monday to move ahead with a plan of their own to raise the necessary funds to dig Crystal Cathedral out of debt.
Schuller called the announcement, issued by Kallestad from the church’s pulpit, “unexpected,” but added that he was delighted to know board members had decided to step out in faith to battle the church’s financial woes.
“It's time to focus on rescue, not abandonment," Schuller said in a statement. “It's time to face our mountain.”
At a bankruptcy court hearing to be held Monday, church representatives are expected to seek permission to carry out a fundraising plan to raise $50 million in the next 120 days, reports the Orange County Register.
No matter the court’s ruling, board members say, they know God will have the final word and are certain that He will “provide all the funds necessary to pay every creditor in full" and use the church’s bankruptcy for good.
“Through our filing of Chapter 11 last October, I believe God has used it to turn the eyes of the world toward the Crystal Cathedral because He wants to make a big, bold statement, and, as a faith-based ministry, it's important to put our faith in God in this matter,” Sheila Schuller Coleman, senior pastor of Crystal Cathedral, said in a statement.
“We cannot teach about faith without living out faith in our actions, especially as it concerns a decision such as this,” Coleman added.
Just last week, Schuller’s daughter, Carol Schuller Milner, told the Orange Country Register that her father was “open to all proposals” from prospective buyers.
Two of the four purchase proposals for the church’s 40-acre property include an offer from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange for $50 million and a $46-million offer from Chapman University, a private university near the church.
In addition to dealing with bankruptcy, church leaders have also been dealing with a battle indoors stemming from allegations of nepotism by elder members of the church.
In an online petition, members have accused church leaders of not having an objective board and are calling on Schuller’s family members to step down from the board of trustees.
Jim McDonald, who organized the online petition, told the Orange County Register Saturday that he had collected nearly 800 signatures from Crystal Cathedral members who want an independent board without any of Schuller’s family and friends.
McDonald also expressed doubt that the necessary funds to dig Crystal Cathedral out of debt could be raised in the next 120 days.
“If you hadn't been able to do it in 10 months, how are you going to do it now,” McDonald told the paper.
Crystal Cathedral, located in Garden Grove, Calif., was founded in 1955 by Schuller and his wife, Arvella, as the Garden Grove Community Church. The church claims over 10,000 members.