As the Crystal Cathedral Ministries congregation, once under the leadership of founder Robert H. Schuller, prepares to transition from the iconic glass sanctuary that it has known as home for more than 30 years to a new location, church members have mixed feelings.
A ministry representative says members are elated at the new possibilities ahead of them but also remorseful about leaving behind the groundbreaking California structure commissioned under Schuller.
"Our new church home will be known as Shepherd's Grove," John Charles, president and CEO of Crystal Cathedral Ministries, told The Christian Post. "As you can well imagine, the congregation does have some sadness in leaving this beautiful facility but realizes that the church is more that just a building. We are a community of believers and committed to bringing the message of hope and healing to the world."
Although the congregation will be known as Shepherd's Grove, reportedly a reference to a church statuary named The Good Shepherd, its corporate name will remain Crystal Cathedral Ministries.
Crystal Cathedral Ministries, founded by Schuller in 1955 as Garden Grove Community Church, will actually be worshipping at St. Callistus Catholic Church, owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, whose purchase of the Crystal Cathedral campus for $57.5 million during bankruptcy court hearings was settled early last year. St. Callistus Catholic Church, to be used by the ministry rent-free for the remainder of the year, is about a two-minute drive from the Crystal Cathedral campus, which has been renamed by the diocese as Christ Cathedral.
A preview of the space was presented in photos on the Crystal Cathedral Ministries website, with a note informing visitors that the first worship service at the St. Callistus church will be held on Sunday, June 30.
"The photos include those of our new worship center with its beautiful lighting and airy feel," reads the description of the images. "Plus, you'll see that there is plenty of room for our children to learn and play, for our fellowship groups and Bible studies to meet, and for our congregation to grow closer while inviting new members of the community to join us!"
As for the "Hour of Power" worship broadcasts that have taken Crystal Cathedral's ministry across the nation and around the world, Charles told CP, "Shepherd's Grove will be the home of the 'Hour of Power' and our televised service will be continuing from that location later this summer."
Meanwhile, the sprawling 34-acre Crystal Cathedral, or Christ Cathedral campus, has been undergoing changes of its own as the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange began organizing staff and making plans to renovate the campus and its buildings, which includes a chapel tower, welcoming center, art gallery and other structures.
In April, the Rev. Schuller, 86, joined members of the Christ Cathedral architecture and renovation committee to share his thoughts on commissioning the 10,660-window worship facility dedicated in 1980 as the Crystal Cathedral. The panel discussion, titled "Icons of OC: Dr. Schuller and the Future Christ Cathedral," also featured his wife, Arvella Schuller, who has been recovering from a recent stroke.
The Orange Catholic Foundation has started a For Christ Forever campaign to help raise $53 million for renovation costs and the projected 2015 dedication of Christ Cathedral, which seats more than 2,700 people. The future campus, which will serve as the new headquarters for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, is expected to be "one of the most significant" Catholic cultural centers in the world. The current St. Callistus Catholic Church community will also transition from its current location to the Crystal Cathedral on June 30. The diocese plans to collaborate with Crystal Cathedral Ministries to continue many of the ministry's outreach programs, such as assistance to the homeless. Father Christopher Smith was named as rector and Episcopal vicar of Christ Cathedral.
The Crystal Cathedral Ministries congregation is led by Pastor Bobby Schuller, grandson of the retired reverend, who also leads the "Hour of Power" services.
Due to its agreement with the Catholic diocese, the congregation will worship at the St. Callistus church, whose sanctuary seats about 1,200 people, rent-free until next year. A previous statement from Crystal Cathedral Ministries revealed that starting January 2014, rent payments would be $25,000 per month "and escalate at a predetermined rate every two years thereafter." The congregation, which used to number upwards of 10,000 in its glory days, has reportedly dwindled to about a tenth of its size due to splintering, financial troubles, and other issues.