The Crystal Cathedral’s board of directors says “thanks but no thanks” for the offers. It’s decided it won’t sell Reverend Robert Schuller’s mega-church, but will instead try to rescue it from bankruptcy.
Orange County’s Catholic diocese, a real estate developer, and Chapman University have submitted serious bids for the standout Crystal Cathedral since the congregation sought bankruptcy protection last fall. But the church’s board says it wants to raise the money through donations instead.
The cathedral needs almost $50 million to make good on a mortgage and mountains of unsecured debt. The plan is to spend the next four months soliciting donations through the church’s “Hour of Power” TV program and at worship services.
Richard Flory of USC’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture says the board’s plan may be bold, but it echoes Reverend Robert Schuller’s messages to the cathedral congregation over the years.
"It fits with their long-time emphasis which is this possibility thinking. What was it…I think in the eighties…he may still say this: 'Turn your scars into stars'. I mean there is all this kind of miraculous talk and now they are looking for an empirically verifiable miracle," says Flory. "You either have the $50 million or you don’t."
The committee that represents some of the church’s top creditors doesn’t deal in miracles. Its job is to ensure that people get paid. So while the church will try to raise money, the creditors’ committee will evaluate offers from potential buyers that include Chapman University and the Catholic Church.
A lawyer for the church detailed the plan at a court hearing in Santa Ana Monday. The committee that represents the church’s creditors will review this idea and others as it prepares for the next hearing later this month.