Cathedral Oligarchy and the Coming Second Hijacking
by Penrod Schoefield -
The term “oligarchy” is usually applied to government entities in which a small group exercises control especially for corrupt and selfish purposes. However, it can also be applied to corporations. When applied to Crystal Cathedral Ministries, two separate corporations are involved and both are controlled by the same family, namely Crystal Cathedral Ministries and the Hour of Power.
Most of us remember hearing Sheila Schuller Coleman announcing from the pulpit one Sunday morning after Robert A. Schuller was ousted from his role as Senior Pastor, that her father, Robert H. Schuller had asked her to be his “hands and feet.” The implication was that he would remain in control of the direction of the Ministry and she would faithfully carry out his wishes. However, most of us have now seen through that as an untruth. Once power was seized by Sheila Schuller Coleman and Gretchen Schuller Penner and their respective husbands, we have witnessed extremely destructive changes that have virtually destroyed the Ministry. The worst part of this is the “children” consistently vote against their parents.
The current leadership has led the Ministry into bankruptcy; connived to drive away Don Neuen and the traditional Crystal Cathedral Choir so they could drastically change the style of music; instituted a Pentecostal style Sunday service in a denomination that happens to be Reformed Church in America. Beyond that, they have driven away most of the long time members; caused most of the Hour of Power viewers to turn the channel and watch something else instead. The fourth largest church organ in the world, the Hazel Wright Organ, has now been relegated to only being heard before and after the services on Sunday morning. During the service, it just sits there in its regal majesty while we are forced to endure the mediocrity of third rate so-
Therein lies the “oligarchy!” I strongly suspect that Gretchen Schuller Penner likes this sort of music and probably listens to it on the radio in her car. Hence, the rest of us must be forced to endure it on Sunday morning services at the Crystal Cathedral. In that same regard, we are told by her husband, Jim Penner in a Sunday Morning message, if we have an
agenda, leave it at the door before we come into the church. If we are unable to do that, go to some other church. Just don’t come here. Therefore, it’s okay for current church leaders to have an agenda that by the way will lead to the complete destruction of the Ministry, but not for those of us who want to preserve the vision of Dr. Robert H. Schuller. More oligarchy!
Sheila has been talking a lot lately about how the Cathedral never before celebrated Pentecost. Perhaps I should have seen it coming that she was leading up to something. On the evening of June 8, to celebrate Pentecost, a service was held in the church billed as “Ignite the Fire.” In the Pulpit was Sheila, Dante Gebel and Emeel Sheaoda, the Arabic Minister. When Sheila appeared to be floundering, Gretchen literally pushed her husband from his seat in the congregation and ordered him to “get up there and help Sheila.” The whole thing was getting to be too much and I later heard from more than a few, that Jim Penner at one point was literally screaming at the top of his lungs and jumping up and down. Sheila appeared weak in the battle of Ministers in the Pulpit. It would not surprise me if some stayed after the service and ended up speaking in “tongues.” Thankfully, the elder Schullers did not attend and witness such a spectacle in what was once a very main stream church with a positive message that attracted many locals to become members and fill the seats every Sunday at two services. Beyond that, the Hour of Power attracted millions of viewers.
Many of us who still attend church on Sunday feel it is only a matter of time until the second hijacking on the Ministry takes place. A hint of it was Gretchen pushing her husband Jim to “get up there and rescue Sheila.” I don’t think it would come as a surprise if Jim and Gretchen hijack the Ministry from Sheila. Many think it is only a matter of time for another family feud to develop between the Colemans and the Penners.
The reader may wonder why we continue to call the Crystal Cathedral our church home. Many of us are loyal to Dr. Robert H. Schuller and his wife Arvella. We hang in there hoping the current leadership will “self destruct” and resign. That will not happen unless those of us who remain there find a way to force them to resign. Yes, Mr. Penner, we do have an agenda! We want to restore our beloved church to what it once was. It was Dr. Schuller’s vision to build it and it was and is our money collectively that built it. Therefore, it should belong to all of us and be operated like any other main stream Christian Church with a Consistory and fully ordained Ministers assigned to preach on Sunday instead of consecrated pastors leading a church of this size with little or no experience.