Crystal Cathedral Founder Pleads For Help With Debt

GARDEN GROVE (AP) — Crystal Cathedral founder the Rev. Robert H. Schuller on Sunday tearfully asked his parishioners for help in overcoming the megachurch’s bankruptcy and tens of millions in debt.

Schuller, 84, made the plea from the pulpit as he spoke publicly for the first time since the church filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Oct. 18.

“I need more help from you,” Schuller said, according to the Orange County Register. “If you are a tither, become a double-tither. If you are not a tither, become a tither. This ministry has earned your trust. This ministry has earned your help.”

Schuller’s voice cracked with emotion as he told congregants about his family home and cornfield in Iowa getting flattened by a tornado when he was a teenager.

“I learned from my father that tough times never last,” Schuller said. “Tough people do.”

Citing debts of more than $43 million, the Orange County-based church that also produces the long-running “Hour of Power” television show declared bankruptcy last week.

The church, founded in the mid-1950s by Schuller, has already ordered major layoffs, sold property and canceled its annual “Glory of Easter” extravaganza.

Church officials have said that for the time being, “Hour of Power” will remain on the air though the number of stations airing it has been cut.

Chapter 11 bankruptcy allows a business to keep operating while it tries to put its finances in order under court supervision.

The church has said its money troubles are almost entirely the result of the recession, but others have blamed an inability to keep up with the times and leadership and succession problems that included a disastrous attempt to hand the church over to Schuller’s son.

Schuller’s daughter, Sheila Schuller Coleman, ended up assuming senior pastor duties.

She assured church members Sunday that using “Biblical” money management the church would get out of bankruptcy.

The congregation gave Robert Schuller a standing ovation near the end of his daughter’s remarks.

One longtime member said she admired the Schuller’s efforts but that maybe the church needs a change in direction.

“Sheila is really trying hard and she is a good person,” said Jean Hess, a member for 30 years and a greeter at the church’s doors. “But, I think, to get back to where it was, the church needs to look outside of the family to find a true leader.”

William DeVries, who was visiting the church from Arkansas with his family, said he thought the church would get through the current mess.

“We’ve watched the “Hour of Power” for years,” he told the Register. “This is an inspirational church that has preached to people internationally. This is a tough situation for them. But I think they will survive.”

(© Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

  • reallt

    All the help he needs is to open his own bank account. What a crook.

  • ohwell

    Don’t look behind the curtain folks!

    The bigger they are……..the harder they fall.

  • svartavikingar

    The churches are worst than our banks. The money is all gone and no ones knows where it has gone except GOD and he isn’t answering phone calls nor prayers.

  • Mike F.

    $43 Million in debt. All of the years that he has been taking money from his naive followers, where is that money now? That “church” has been corrupt and he lied to all of you for so long, and know he wants our sympathy, and more of our money. Go ahead, be fooled again, if you dare.

  • Lisa Brodeen

    Your own problem Robert Schuller, for building such an outrageous church just for show. Shame on you for asking that the tithers double tithe in this recession. And if they comply with that, they are idiots. You deserve to go under. Give it up

  • ReginaM

    What the hell is “Biblical” money management ?

    • Gary S

      “What the hell is “Biblical” money management ?”

      That is were he fleeces the flock some more.

  • garagehero

    How does a church get 43 milion in debt? They dont pay property taxes, or taxes of any kind. What the heck happened?

  • Phil E

    Orange County at its best: measuring faith in dollars and spiritually bankrupt.

  • Comment4u

    Ok, open up your family’s millions if you are so tearful and pay the poor people back that you took the $43 million from. How can your family stand there and ask for money when you are so unwilling to be held financially accountable for your families mismanagement. “Sell all that you have and come follow me.” Mr. Shuller, are you willing to sell all your family has? Show all of us that you are and then the blessings of heaven will be opened unto you.

  • LollyBlue

    Sell a couple of your mansions. I remember both Senior and Junior making a house call to a dying woman I took care of in her home. After getting her sizable check they both left her house with big smiles on their faces. It was her choice to give but I couldnt help but feel it was a dirty business.

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  • Taxthechurch

    They need more $ to bash the gays with.

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  • Steve Furst


    But the family will never let it happen because it does not include any of them.
    Clean sweep the entire family out of the ministry.
    Begin to broadcast all of the wonderful sermons in the film vault for the past 30 years. People will sponsor those sermons……
    Telecast a 30 minute program like Joel Osteen. (The family visited Joel to discuss their pleight this October.
    The family must go……..Elder Schuler can find a great spritial leader for the church and the programs can go on with return to the church in t v viewrs contributions.
    sheila is not qualified………she is a school teacher and sounds like one from the pulpit but the viewers are not in grade school.
    God bless this ministry.

  • Shamita Omote



  • philip kaeser

    These people should be ashamed of themselves if these allegations are true.If in fact they are the whole should be removed from any power position.

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