Late Thursday evening U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Kwan issued the ruling, acknowledging the tremendous work put in by Chapman University, the diocese’s competitor, which offered as much as $59 million for the 40-acre Crystal Cathedral campus. The diocese will get the property for $57.5 million.
Under the diocese’s plan, the ministry will be able to lease the core buildings including the cathedral and the Tower of Hope for three years — at $100,000 a month during the first year and $150,000 for years two and three. They also will be able to lease the school building for $10,000 a month until the end of school year 2013.
After three years, Crystal Cathedral Ministries and the school will move to the 10-acre property on Lewis Street where St. Callistus is now located.
There are 1.2 million Catholics in Orange County. Bishop Tod Brown:
“We will get a renowned architect to renovate that building so it will be suitable for a Catholic place of worship,” he said. “But we have no intention to change the exterior of the building.”
The decision to back the Catholic purchase was a last minute about face for the Crystal Cathedral board, which had told remaining congregants that the board backed Chapman University purchase bid.
Tensions escalated between the parties Thursday after the Crystal Cathedral board in a late meeting Wednesday picked the diocese as the preferred buyer after choosing Chapman on two different occasions.
Board member Diane Highum defended their decision, saying the ministry will go on regardless of where it is located. She said board members were uncomfortable with Chapman’s lease terms and its future plans for the campus.
“I will be able to live with the decision we made although it was a very tough one,” she said. “There is no question in my mind that the ministry will go on in a different direction.”
Chapman University’s original offer was for $51.5 million with a 15-year leaseback and a five-year buyback option. But during the course of this week, Chapman has made two additional offers – one for $51.5 million with a $1-a-month, 15-year lease for core buildings without a buyback option and another that came Wednesday afternoon for $59 million, with a $25,000-a-month lease for 10 years, also without a buyback option.
Crystal Cathedral founder Robert H. Schuller released a statement in support of the board’s decision Thursday. Rev. Schuller and his wife, Arvella, are both voting members on the board.
“My wife and I, prior to Monday’s hearing, had already decided to support the diocese’s offer to purchase the Crystal Cathedral campus,” he said. “Though we deeply respect Chapman University, the uncertainly regarding the future use of the campus for religious purposes was divergent to the call of both God and our denomination that we embraced 60 years ago.”
Robert Schuller started the church in the 1950′s in a drive in. In 2010 bankruptcy was declared, with debts of over 43 million.
The Reformed Church of America will be severing its ties with the remaining congregation of the Crystal Cathedral.
Scott Treadway, president of the Reformed Church in California, says the cathedral’s goals and mission, including worship style, are not in line with those of the denomination – leaving them with no choice but to discontinue their long and unique relationship with the Crystal Cathedral.
“We have resolved that the governance requirements of the (Crystal Cathedral) and RCA are mutually exclusive, and discussions are underway toward a gracious parting of ways,” he said in an email response.
The Reformed Church’s relationship with the Crystal Cathedral was unique because the cathedral had grown into much more than a local community church when it became a worldwide television ministry, Treadway said.
So an agreement was forged, he said, where the Reformed Church continued to ordain the ministers, but that the ministry and property were administered solely by Crystal Cathedral Ministries. Although the agreement worked well for many years, the relationship became stressed when “there was a dissonance in ministry direction, music style, bankruptcy and risk to the property,” Treadway said, referring to the ministry’s shift from traditional music to a praise style of worship.
“It became an unsolvable mess,” he said.
The Crystal Cathedral under the direction of Schiller’s two daughters (Sheila and Gretchen) went independent pentecostal in worship style and theology. The bankruptcy filing revealed the Schuller family excesses. Four hundred creditors are waiting to be paid. The Hour of Power brings in 70% of the church’s revenue, and if you haven’t taken a look at how bad the new format is, you can have a look here. The service is not even a shadow of what it was in its heyday, it looks like every other cheap televised independent pentecostal service spewed out on tv.
The church once boasted a congregation of 10 thousand, two english speaking services now draw a couple of hundred. An independent afternoon Spanish service draws over a thousand. The electronic church is not likely to survive its founder and the weekly congregation is not likely to survive its founder either.
Catholics are not without concerns, which I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about. Bishop Tod’s Hour of Power
Chapman University statement
Bishop Brown statement
Sheila Schuller Coleman special video statement just hours before judge ruled