Crystal Cathedral Lays Off Staff, Sells Land

As part of its effort to get back on track financially, Crystal Cathedral laid off an unknown number of staff last week, including the church's executive pastor and the pastor of its Hispanic ministry.

"These are really a group of great, talented people. But our numbers are down and we're trying to make it under tough economic conditions like everyone else," said Rick Mysse, a denominational executive for the Reform Church of America, which oversees the Garden Grove, Calif., megachurch, according to the local Orange County Register.

Mysse declined to name those who were laid off, but said among those let go was the pastor who headed Crystal Cathedral's Hispanic ministry.

Church Executive magazine, meanwhile, reported that executive pastor Jim Poit and his wife, Linda, who was director of children's ministries there, were part of last week's round of layoffs, as well as Deb Yurk, who had been brought on board by Poit as pastor of congregational life.

A church spokesman reportedly told the magazine they were "laid off" and went on to say that Poit, his wife, and Yurk "didn't fit the vision … of the new leadership." While Crystal Cathedral's media and public relations director, John Charles, confirmed with The Christian Post that Yurk and the Poits were among those who were let go last week, he declined to comment on the statement "supposedly" given to Church Executive.

"I cannot comment on that statement as I do not know who the spokesperson was that they supposedly quoted," informed Charles, adding that he was not the source of the statement.

The recent round the layoffs comes as the church faces tough financial challenges and amid rumors that it is headed toward bankruptcy. Though the church has denied such claims, it has acknowledged its need to get back on track financially.

Earlier this month, the church put up for sale a four-story office on its campus at an asking price of $34 million. The ministry said it wants to lease back the entire property for three years after the sale is completed, at a monthly rate of $1.59 per square foot, or about $2.6 million a year.

Also placed on sale was a 170-acre piece of land, 116 of which the city of San Juan Capistrano bought last week for $10 million.

Mysee, who has been working with the church's pastoral staff, says the recent layoffs and sale of some of the church's assets should help it get back on track financially.

The ministry is also hoping to draw more viewers and sponsors to its "Hour of Power" program, which for three decades served as the voice and face of Crystal Cathedral founder Robert H. Schuller and his son, Robert A. Schuller.

The program currently features big names including John Maxwell, Bill Hybels, Francis Chan and Luis Palau, all recently added to help it reach a broader audience. The decision to expand the program beyond a single personality had strained relations between Schuller and his son, who disagreed with the move. The lack of shared vision led to the latter's removal from the program in October and his resignation as senior pastor one month later.

Now, with Poit and the younger Schuller out of the picture, the pastoral staff of Crystal Cathedral will likely be led by interim senior pastor Juan Carlos Ortiz in cooperation with Mysse, who officially serves as executive director of the Far West Classis of the Reformed Church in America (RCA), the church's denomination.

The younger Schuller, meanwhile, was expected to announce his new ministry plans "soon." But after two months, there still has yet to be any updates.

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