Crystal Cathedral Plans to Sell Church to Exit Bankruptcy

[UPDATE May 28, 2011: Crystal Cathedral Sells Property for $46 Million to Real Estate Developer]

The Crystal Cathedral is being put on the market as the church seeks a way out of its crippling debt.

The Orange County church is hoping the sale of its imposing glass building will generate enough revenue to save it from Chapter 11 bankruptcy and make good with some 550 creditors.

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It has been looking for an exit strategy from its financial woes ever since filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last October.

The reorganization plan includes the sale of the 40-acre campus to a real estate group with a guaranteed option of leasing it back for 15 years.

After four years, the church would have the option of buying back the Crystal Cathedral, the 13-story Tower of Hope, the welcome center and the cemetery.

Not part of the buy-back deal, however, is the Family Life Center, the campus’s four-story office building that is already up for sale.

Creditors and vendors are still waiting for a combined total of $7.5 million in overdue payments from the church, which it has promised to re-pay in the next 42 months.

No details have been given about potential buyers or the sale price. The Southern California megachurch, whose founder is Robert H. Schuller, is set to be considered at a June 1 hearing.

Church spokesman John Charles told the LA Times: “It’s great news. It gives us the opportunity to pay everybody off and start fresh.”

The Crystal Cathedral will still continue its ministry, which includes worship services, community outreach programs and the weekly Hour of Power broadcast, uninterrupted.

Sheila Schuller Coleman, senior pastor and daughter of the founder, expressed optimism in the new plan, noting that paying back the creditors has been a top priority and that this is the chance to finally do so.

“We are pleased that we are able to honor the debt that we have incurred and to honor the creditors who are due their payment,” she said in a statement.

"The Crystal Cathedral Ministries would like to thank our church members and friends around the world who have given from their hearts to help rebuild a solid foundation from which we can continue our ministry and launch the new vision for the Crystal Cathedral Ministries."

The new vision includes stepping up community outreach efforts such as feeding the hungry and providing resources for job searches.

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