Published: Sept. 13, 2011 Updated: 2:06 p.m.

Crystal Cathedral sale plan heads to court

By DEEPA BHARATH / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER


A hearing in bankruptcy court is expected to be held Wednesday morning where the creditor committee's plan to move forward with the sale is expected to be approved by the judge. The creditors committee has not yet stated which plan it favors.


SANTA ANA – The viability of a plan filed by creditors calling for the sale of Orange County's landmark Crystal Cathedral will be considered for approval by a bankruptcy court judge during a hearing Wednesday.

The cathedral's leaders announced on July 31 that the church is not for sale and that they would raise $50 million by Thanksgiving to save the ministry.


John Charles, a spokesman for the cathedral, said Tuesday that the "faith-based" fund-raising campaign is "progressing."

"We really do not have any information about it," Charles said.

The creditors' plan, which was filed last month, not only called for the family of founding pastor Robert H. Schuller to cooperate with the sale, but also stated that if the family tries to block the sale, the creditors will push it through anyway and sue church insiders. They contend the insiders have taken unjustified pay in the years before the church went bankrupt, according to the plan.

The creditors committee consists of individuals and entities that are owed millions, including several long-time vendors who offered their services to the cathedral's iconic "Glory of Christmas" pageant.

Kristina Oliver, who supplied livestock for the pageants, said she recently sold her claim. She was owed $53,000 by the cathedral for her services. Oliver's home in Murrieta was foreclosed during the time she was waiting to get paid.


"This was really the best thing for me to do," she said. "It's something I did to move on with my life."

The church has several pending offers to consider. The highest is now from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange for $53.6 million in cash – up from $50 million.

Chapman University, which originally offered $46 million, is now ready to pay $50 million. My Father's House International Church in Norco is also offering $50 million. Chapman's plan includes a leaseback and buyback option as does Oklahoma-based arts and crafts retailer Hobby Lobby's $47.5-million offer. Greenlaw Partners' $46-million offer, which was the church's preferred plan in May, was not even listed as a bidder in the creditors' plan.

After the viability of the creditors' plan is approved, the committee is likely to proceed by selecting a buyer. That will then have to be voted on by all creditors. Only then, can the plan be approved by the court.

The court hearing is scheduled at 11 a.m. at the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse, 411 W. Fourth St. Santa Ana. The hearing will take place in Room 5D before Judge Robert N. Kwan.


Contact the writer: 714-796-7909 or dbharath@ocregister.com

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