July 4, 2011 by staff
Crystal Cathedral, The Rev. Robert H. Schuller, who began his ministry in Orange, California, drive-in over five decades, has been expelled from the board of Crystal Cathedral Ministries, which has been devastated by debt and family disharmony in recent years.
The church has not released information about the board meeting where Schuller, 84, was overthrown, but his son Robert A. Schuller, who was forced to leave the cathedral by his sisters and brothers-three years ago, confirmed on Sunday.
He said his father wanted to enlarge the board, which was not well received by others.
“The majority of the board consists of salaried employees of the church and that’s a serious conflict of interests,” said Robert A. Schuller.
No member of the board or church officials could be reached for comment Sunday.
Schuller said his mother, a board member, voted against, but was in the minority.
“It’s a very sad day and unfortunately, I know how you feel,” the younger of them said Schuller.
Church financial troubles, including a significant drop in donations and declining membership, culminating in its declaration of Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The church still owes about 7.5 million and unsecured creditors, many of which vendors “Glory of Christmas” to the cathedral contest. According to a reorganization plan submitted by the church last month, have a supply of Irvine, California, developer, Greenlaw Partners LLC to buy the central buildings and 46 million.
Under the proposal, the church has a lease agreement for 15 years with the promoter and the option to buy properties again, and 30 million over four years. In return, developers will be able to build hundreds of apartment units in one of the 30-acre campus.
In 2008, two years after receiving the gold medal of his father, a symbol of church leadership, Robert A. Schuller resigned as pastor and his sister, Sheila Schuller Coleman, took control of the ministry. The younger Schuller says his departure was motivated by a vote on July 9, 2008, by the Board. That vote, also shot down the proposal of Robert A. Schuller ‘s for new board members bring and end to the conflict of interest issues, he said.
Robert H. Schuller has been at odds with their daughters about how they have chosen to lead the church. The cathedral recently replaced the worship of a traditional format to a gospel choir style – much to the chagrin of many long time members. Coleman also asked choir members to sign an agreement that recognizes Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, and the belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman.
The older Schuller publicly criticized the contracts saying that all are welcome in the church. Phillip Johnson, the architect who built the shrine of the iconic crystal cathedral, was an openly gay man.
At the same time, Schuller’s daughter, Carol Schuller Milner, said the time of her father in a leadership role was over and her sister, Coleman, was in control. He said her father was having a hard time relinquishing control of a church he had built from the ground.
Dory Baule, a member of the cathedral since 1972, said he was shocked and saddened to hear of the elimination of Schuller of the church board.
Baule said she and her husband met when Schuller came to Philadelphia in the 1960′s, when he was still preaching the drive-in theater.
“Bob and Arvella Schuller were so sincere,” he said.
Robert A. Schuller said the issue is not about his father being able to relinquish control. The question, he says, is running the church?
“Anyone with a brain knows it takes income and expenditure to get a balance sheet,” he said. “You can not run a church by slashing and burning.”
She said her mother, although still on the table; do not go to Council meetings.
“It’s absolutely awful what has happened to the church,” he said. “I know my father is disappointed, but is independent. I also emotionally disconnected from this place long ago.”
He called his father’s dismissal of the board “a step in (the church) disappearance.”
Baule said he believes the ministry is confident that their children had no experience with running a church is the old mistake of fact Schuller, which led to the downfall of his ministry, Crates said.
“Children were not qualified to work, who have abused it,” he said. “We, as members, are heartbroken.”
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