Are We Willing to Work Together as a Team with a Common Objective?

Posted by Phil White on May 25, 2012 on New Pens-Opinion Blog. A copy of this blog has been transferred to Noteworthy Blogs due to the importance of the content of two of the 32 comments that have been posted by various registered bloggers.

I would like to find out if some of us are willing to start working together as a team with a common objective.

The “Objective” and “Plan” of the “Team” are yet to be precisely determined, but, in my opinion, the first objective is to get a database of donors populated to the best of our ability and start communicating with them and start growing that database. The second objective would be to locate wise legal counsel. A third objective would be to contact and interact with John Charles to see if some sort of deal could be worked out to avoid a lawsuit. The rest is undetermined at this point.

I would probably call it the “CC Donors Team” because I think the class of CC Donors includes most of the CC Congregation plus many of the Hour of Power Viewers.

You do not have to be an actual donor to the CC to become a member of the CC Donors Team. You can be a friend or relative of a donor or just a sympathizer with the Donors’ cause.

If you are willing to become part of such a CC Donors Team, would you please let everyone know that fact by writing a comment to this post? Thank you.

Bill Holler says:

May 25, 2012 at 11:37 pm

Thank you very much for this really informative timeline. You should add some points.

When the first service started in the crystal Cathedral it was declared debt free. However this only was a trick because actually it was not. According to my information just a couple of hours or maybe just an hour before the opening of the CC there was an important board meeting.

The board members were urged to sign IOY letters in order to cover the remaining millions of deficit!
Minutes later RHS declared CC debt free!!!

Was it all based on a lie from the beginning? We all know that if you start with a lie at some point it will grow over the years and become a huge disaster.

blargolis says:

May 26, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Bill, while we are looking at the past: (warning – long post)

I was on technical staff during construction, dedication, and early years of operation. The hours and stress were taking a toll on my wife and daughter. I wrote my resignation in 1985 the same evening of the staff meeting where I learned about the Glory of Easter, and decided it was time to depart amicably and allow the Operations Manager to hire my replacement.

My own recall is that Dr. Schuller’s claim “debt free” was credible only that the building was dedicated without a mortgage. Was debt incurred? Absolutely! The original general contractor contract amount was paid by the opening (the unbelievably lowball $18 million), but there were numerous overruns, last minute rushed changes, unforeseen complications, a complete misunderstanding by the architect what it took to facilitate a TV program, and a *huge* operational / maintenance budget that completely overwhelmed church administration and staff that were not prepared for the challenge.

Arvella hired theatrical “experts” that came from New York / Broadway to manage/augment the staff; from April in preparation to the Beverly Sills concert until dedication and for afterwards, there were up to 50 full time positions added just for operations alone. The Sills concert, intended to provide needed revenue for completion, likely broke even after all the costs.

Some examples of cost overruns: RHS walked in just weeks before Sills and saw the empty structure taking shape for the organ and proclaimed it ugly, so there were was a last minute rush to erect a facade fashioned by greenish bamboo “pipes” roughly the same dimensions of the real ones that wouldn’t be installed for months. (The Hazel Wright organ was dedicated in 1982). The casework was the focal point and it was arguably a good idea to build these, but at a high cost.

Just the cost for multiple disastrous sound system /acoustic changes in those early years cost millions. The cost of the second flop featuring “crystal clusters” that made RHS sound like he was talking through a kazoo was reportedly two million alone (reported in a national audio magazine, never told to staff or congregation) and required 5 operators on duty just to turn on a microphone.

The original terrazzo flooring on the main floor (long since covered in carpet) was a labor intensive nightmare. It had to be carefully stripped, waxed, and polished by hand far more frequently than ever anticipated.

The TV lighting as built originally needed lots of augmentation, and required extensive electrical enhancements (which cost 10 times what doing it right the first time). The big conduit network of pipes put in place to “hide” camera cables were too small to fit the multi-pin connectors so cables that had to be made in place were leased. In those days one cable long enough cost tens of thousands to buy, and they needed many of them. This quickly made the cost of in-house owned equipment attractive which meant millions spent in coming years.

The huge cost overruns for operations were likely temporarily diverted from HOP, supposedly to be paid back long-term through the Schullers’ vision that the Cathedral would be a money-making commercial venue for all sorts of secular and semi-sacred concert and staging events, now that we had this Broadway-caliber staff. That plan was thwarted by the “buzz” and reviews on the Sills Concert and the acoustics, and a public battle with the county auditor who intended to pull the Cathedral’s property-tax exempt status. Finally, all the commercial venue discussions inspired local unions to attempt to unionize the technical staff. (How the unions were dissuaded and lost interest is a very funny story for another time)

Ultimately, the solution was the Glory of Christmas, which was a “sacred” event, didn’t feature a single celebrity getting a percentage of sales, utilized a huge velvet backdrop to dampen the echos and a “real” sound system that worked and the technicality of commercialism bypassed by renaming tickets “reservations” and all proceeds went to the church, and were optional (supposedly nobody could be turned away for not paying for their “reservation”).

I could go on and on with own chapters of a “Schullerland” history lesson. The big take-away here is that the huge disconnect between the congregation and the HOP had its start back in those days. The congregation alone could not afford that building moving in and today they can’t afford it moving out.

There were years of prosperity and free spending bolstered by the increased national awareness and the peak of RHS’s career that allowed everyone involved to become complacent. Few anywhere inside or outside cared about things like transparency, rampant nepotism, the discontinuing of elected consistory members, and all the other things in Phil’s timeline until the (good)music stopped playing – literally. By then, many members of the congregation were fed up, this site was born and a lot of truth started coming out…. but it was too late.

In my own the opinion the downhill spiral started as far back when RHS suffered a mannerism after hitting his head; I don’t believe he was ever quite the same and definitely not as prolific or active traveling and speaking. Arvella’s battle with cancer and illness contributed as well. People may disagree with me, but I was there in 1980, and I am still convinced she is every bit as just as responsible for the incredible success just as she had a hand in its downfall, but that was not due for lack her vision and shaping of the HOP program. Her instincts were usually correct and time after time she moderated and tempered RHS’ loose canon tenancies. It might well be some difficulties and embarrassments with seasoned theatrical producers and experienced professional “experts” they brought in influenced the later ill-advised reliance on family members to continue that vision.

The abortive “Creation” years later was likely seen as a last-ditch effort to revive the earlier success of the first two “Glories” but of course so much had changed and the creative talent pool and genius that resulted in the first two were long gone. It was like the sequel that nobody could make, a “Back to the Future IV”

And if you are wondering about that insistence that the Cathedral remain sacred as a reason for selling to the RCBO, I still don’t get it. I can respect that position in principle, but it certainly was not a problem when the Cathedral was built in 1980!

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