Wednesday, Dec. 07, 2011

The Crystal Cathedral's Bankruptcy Sale

The edifice is an architectural masterpiece — a palatial glass house of worship, a shrine of modern-day evangelism conceived by a master modernist, Philip Johnson. And for three decades, it was the showcase of the Rev. Robert Schuller's televangelist ministry, glittering week after week with peppy "Hour of Power" sermons rich in Christian feel-good philosophizing. But the Crystal Cathedral Ministry (affiliated with the Reformed Church of America) was also laden with debt — an estimated $55 million, including a $36 million mortgage. The Schuller family was also rent by an internal feud, even as Schuller's daughter tried to continue the ministry in the wake of her father's retirement and ill health. In October 2010, the ministry declared bankruptcy, and in 2011, the building itself was put up for sale. The likely buyer: the local Catholic diocese, which is expected to lease it back to the ministry for three years before transforming the church into a Catholic house of worship.