Crystal Cathedral: Schullers go to court [Excerpts]
The Rev. Robert H. Schuller has been a spiritual counselor to this country's leaders, a friend to celebrities, an inspiring figure to the common person.
He started a church with an investment of $500 and turned it into a worldwide institution: the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove. His sermons were viewed by millions on his "Hour of Power" television show. Now, after decades of service and leadership, he finds himself in court fighting the very church he created.
Schuller and his wife, Arvella, seek more than $5 million. Meanwhile, the outcome of the trial will affect creditors who have been waiting to be paid since the Crystal Cathedral Ministries filed for bankruptcy in 2010.
"We're just hoping that it's soon over, so we can just move on," said John Charles, chief executive officer of the Crystal Cathedral Ministries. "It's been painful for both sides."
Carol Milner, a Schuller daughter who, along with her husband, Tim, also has claims in the trial scheduled in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, said: "This is really grieving us. We don't pursue conflict. We believe in reconciliation."
The elder Schullers filed a number of claims for breach of contract and copyright infringements. The largest claim seeks damages for the rejection of an agreement between them and the ministry written before Schuller left his post as senior pastor in 2005.
In that agreement, the church agreed to provide for the elder Schullers until their deaths. It included annual payments of $119,000 for housing, $20,065 for insurance and $198,000 to Schuller's corporation, Robert Harold Inc. Both Schullers are in their 80s.
Starting in late 2008, as the ministry faced an economic downturn and a decline in donations, the Schullers were paid less. When the ministry filed for bankruptcy, all payments stopped. And in the reorganization plan, the agreement with the Schullers was rejected.
The elder Schullers have been criticized for using their power and influence over the years to give themselves and their children generous salaries, housing allowances and other benefits, even after the church began to struggle financially.
(Kopetman, "Crystal Cathedral: Schullers go to court," The Orange County Register Online, 10/31/12).
[TBC: After a life spent preaching a message that borrowed much from Occultism, the end of Schuller’s ministry is at odds with his earlier confident declaration: "I have practiced and harnessed the power of the inner eye and it works....Thirty years ago we started with a vision of a church. It's all come true" (Robert Schuller booklet, The Power of the Inner Eye). This is a consistent legacy of positive confession teachers.]