Crystal Cathedral files for bankruptcy protection

October 19, 2010

Unable to satisfy creditors owed millions of dollars, the ailing
Crystal Cathe­dral ministry in Southern California has filed for
bankruptcy protection.

The once-influential megachurch founded by
Robert H. Schuller in recent years has reduced its purchase of
television time, laid off staffers and sold some of its real estate
holdings, but the combination of a recession, an aging congregation in
Garden Grove and pastoral succession problems within the Schuller
family have tested the founder's optimistic outlook.

"Tough times
never last, but tough people do," current senior pastor Sheila Schuller
Coleman told a news conference October 18, repeating a motto of her
famous father. The church filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy that morning,
declaring that it could not reach a settlement with some vendors who
sought court action against the church.

Jim Penner, the executive producer of the Hour of Power
television program and son-in-law of the senior Schuller, said the
church's debt is about $44 million. According to court documents, the
church has assets of between $50 million and $100 million.

Coleman
succeeded her brother Robert A. Schuller as pastor after their father
became dissatisfied in 2008 with his son's preaching and leadership.
The senior Schuller, who never fully retired, brought in a series of
guest preachers before handing the pulpit duties to Coleman.

Coleman
said the ministry's most recent financial reports include the best cash
flow in a decade. However, the Crystal Cathedral—which has relied on
professionals for its holiday pageants and polished television
services—canceled its annual "Glory of Easter" production this year and
may have to skip the "Glory of Christmas" again this year.

The decline in donations forced the church to lay off 140 people in the past year and drop half of its Hour of Power air
time. The congregation no longer employs an orchestra and professional
choir singers. Volunteers now make up the church's choir, Coleman said.