Crystal Cathedral Sells Retreat Center; Saddleback Church to Lease

The Crystal Cathedral, the Southern California megachurch of Dr. Robert H. Schuller, announced Tuesday the sale of its Rancho Capistrano Retreat & Renewal Center to Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., of Oklahoma City.

And leasing the property for the first 18 months will be Saddleback Church, the Southern California megachurch of Pastor Rick Warren.

"We are pleased and excited to make this announcement today," said Dr. Sheila Schuller Coleman, Schuller's daughter and director of Ministry & Mission for the Cathedral. "It is so gratifying that Saddleback Church will carry on the longstanding wish and legacy of Donna and John Crean, along with their family, by providing programs on the property that will renew souls and save lives."

The Rancho Capistrano property – which has served for nearly three decades as a site for retreat programs, weddings and religious gatherings – was a gift to the ministry of Crystal Cathedral founder Dr. Robert H. Schuller in 1981.

Fleetwood Enterprises founders Donna Crean and her now-late husband, John, who gave the property, wanted to establish a place of spiritual restoration where generations of individuals would find new hope for living just as John had done through his involvement in Alcoholics Anonymous.

"Twenty-nine years ago, our family gifted the Rancho Capistrano property to Dr. Schuller and the Crystal Cathedral as a place of spiritual hope and training, and since then, other generous individuals have sacrificially joined with us in continuing its work," said Andy Crean, one of the Creans' sons. "We are pleased to learn that 'The Ranch' fits the aggressive and progressive vision of Saddleback Church, and that their plans for 'The Ranch' facility will remain faithful to our family's longstanding dream to provide spiritual inspiration and renewal."

Coleman expressed similar sentiments, reporting that it has always been the desire of her father and Crystal Cathedral leadership to respect and honor the original intent of the Creans and their family.

The church's International Board of Trustees had announced earlier this year its decision to close down operations at "The Ranch" following a 27 percent drop in revenue – from $30 million in 2008 to $22 million in 2009 – and with a drop in this year's revenue anticipated.

In addition to the sale of "The Ranch," Crystal Cathedral also had to cancel its annual "Glory of Easter" pageant and reportedly laid off 50 workers. It was also considering pulling its once-popular "Hour of Power" television show in up to eight markets.

In a prepared statement in January, Coleman encouraged the congregation to "hang in there and be smart about surviving the downturn in the economy," saying that "this storm will pass and we will be OK and we can begin to grow again as a ministry."

In her latest remarks, the church co-leader expressed her gratitude for the sale and lease of "The Ranch."

"We've prayed about this many times, and now to have Rick Warren and Saddleback Church continue this wonderful life-saving legacy, well it's an incredible answer to prayer," she stated.

Founded over 50 years ago, Crystal Cathedral is internationally known for its "Hour of Power" broadcast, once said to be the most-watched Christian program worldwide.

The church, which is affiliated with the Reformed Church in America, is also known for the architecture of its main sanctuary building, which was constructed using over 10,000 rectangular panes of glass.

The church claims to have over 10,000 members and holds three services in its 2,900-capacity sanctuary every Sunday.

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