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Retailer Posts $47.5-M Bid For Crystal Cathedral; Donates to Warren's Church

Christian-based arts and crafts retailer Hobby Lobby has put a $47.5-million cash offer on the table for Crystal Cathedral in its second bid in less than two years to relieve the bankrupt megachurch of costly property.

Hobby Lobby joins a list of about five other organizations that have made purchase proposals for Crystal Cathedral's 40-acre property.

Among interested buyers are the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange and My Father’s House Church International, which have both offered $50 million for the property.

The retail giant's offer comes as church leaders, vowing to rely on God and supporter donations to dig it out of debt, announced from the pulpit last Sunday that the Garden Grove, Calif., worship center is no longer for sale.

If Crystal Cathedral's faith-based fundraising efforts fail to collect the $50 million needed to settle its debts, officials may have to sell the historic church as part of a bankruptcy reorganization plan.

Assuming Hobby Lobby emerges as the buyer, company officials reportedly plan to lease the Crystal Cathedral campus to The King's University, a bible college and seminary in Los Angeles.

John Charles, a spokesman for the Crystal Cathedral, told the Los Angeles Times he had no knowledge of Hobby Lobby's offer.

Charles also noted that the church, founded by Robert H. Schuller more than 50 years ago, had received positive feedback on its fundraising efforts. The amount the Crystal Cathedral has raised so far is unclear, he told the paper.

If the deal goes through, this will be the second time Hobby Lobby and Crystal Cathedral have done business together.

The arts and crafts retailer purchased the megachurch's Rancho Capistrano in May 2010 for an undisclosed amount. Five months later, the struggling megachurch filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

This week, Hobby Lobby donated the ranch in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. to Rick Warren's Saddleback Church. Warren's church, located in Lake Forest, had previously been leasing the 175-acre property.

“Rick Warren, his staff and the church’s congregation have contributed to the Lord’s work on this property, and we couldn’t be more excited to donate this property to them,” said David Green, Hobby Lobby’s founder and CEO.

Warren, who uses Rancho Capistrano for retreats and other church events, expressed gratitude for the donation.

“We have witnessed many lives changed at the Rancho Capistrano property during our time there,” Warren said in a statement. “We thank Hobby Lobby for this wonderful gift and look forward to seeing more lives changed through our ministry here.”

Hobby Lobby, based in Oklahoma City, has nearly 500 stores across the U.S.

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