There is a Fiduciary Obligation to the Crystal Cathedral Membership and Hour of Power Viewers that is blatantly disregarded!

By Penrod Schoefield – May 15, 2011

A publicly traded commercial corporation has a fiduciary obligation to its investors to maximize profits to maximize the dividend return to its investors.

Admittedly, the Crystal Cathedral is not a “for profit corporation.” However, in my view, it nevertheless has a fiduciary obligation to its donors who have invested in the Crystal Cathedral. When buildings were planned such as the all glass Crystal Cathedral building, checks were sent in specifically to buy a window with their name on it or perhaps a seat, or a gift of an amount of dollars to be spent to buy a bell for the Carillon.

An example of a very large gift was sent by Hazel Wright of Chicago to pay for the purchase and building of what is now the fourth largest church organ in the world. One can be certain she did not anticipate paying for a world class “King of Instruments” thinking it would be a nice piece of furniture to decorate the church and not be used for its main purpose of making beautiful music.

So you see, you, the donors in this case are the investors in the Crystal Cathedral. The Crystal Cathedral and for that matter all the other buildings on the campus have been paid for by the donor/investors that are either church members or Hour of Power Viewers.

I expect the only dividends these “donor-investors” expect is to see the Crystal Cathedral they built (and all the other buildings on the Campus to which they donated their hard earned money) is to continue on in all the “Traditional Glory” it has always been.

The bottom line is, the current leadership of the Crystal Cathedral seems to have disregarded and dishonored a “fiduciary obligation” to all the donor/investors–the ones who made all of this glorious campus possible by making an ill advised decision to drastically change the music format of the Sunday Services.

The term “current leadership” refers to the Schuller daughters since they are the ones primarily in control of the ministry.


From my perspective the primary fiduciary obligation of those in control of the ministry is to focus on getting the church out of the financial crisis brought on in part by the stagnant economic conditions and lackluster donations plus the staging of the “Glory of Creation” some years ago which turned out not only to be a “flop” but extremely costly.

However, the fiduciary obligation goes further than that. It is becoming more clear with each passing day that getting Don Neuen and the Crystal Cathedral Choir to resign was not just caused by a huge misunderstanding. Apparently, Don was approached by Gretchen Schuller Penner approximately a year ago concerning the controversial “Choir Covenant.” Our understanding is that Don Neuen refused to bring such a document before the choir and encourage each indiviual to sign it.. That should have been the end of it. Since the matter came up again in the fall of last year, one must assume it was a contrived issue to insure Don and his world class choir would quit. As expected, not much was announced from the Pulpit concerning the details of the disappearance of Don and the Cathedral Choir other than Don had resigned for some reason or other but not the real reason.

It wasn’t until early April 2011 that it was announced from the Pulpit that an email was sent to Scott Smith asking him to take on the job as “Minister of Worship” and that he had accepted. How wonderful that Scott was a Grammy Award Winning musician. In the world of traditional musicians with a God given gift of true talent one need not rely on being legitimized by awards. Real talent is instantly recognized. Fred Swann has it; Christopher Pardini have it; Don Neuen has it;  Sean Groombridge, Tom Leonard and Marc Riley have it. It was obvious in the music they performed every Sunday. I think most of you who visit this web site agree.

The really unfortunate part of all this is it has now jeopardized the future of our beloved Crystal Cathedral. The tradeoff was musical excellence for contemporary mediocrity.

The attendance Sunday, May 15, at the 11:00 o’clock Service was under six hundred in a Cathedral that seats 2700. I was there and I counted heads. Row after row of seats was empty. Gone are many of the long time members who are deeply upset that their world renowned Choir Director is gone along with the world renowned Crystal Cathedral Choir. A predominance of the membership is disturbed with the obvious lack of talent of the new music leadership and Praise Team coupled with the style of contemporary church music that is alien to the Cathedral Congregation. Since the inception of this web site all of the email received by the webmaster has expressed negativity regarding the new music style.

It should be clear that the elder Schullers are no longer in control of the ministry they built together over the past fifty years. If one keeps up with the Orange County Register articles concerning the plight of the Crystal Cathedral, it was Dr. Robert H. Schuller who, in a statement to the OC Register said had he known about the Choir Covenant, he would have never approved it.

Their is a simple solution: Leadership should schedule a congregational meeting and admit they made an ill advised decision concerning the change in music format that has resulted in driving away membership and HOP viewers. It should be announced at this meeting that the music format was returning to a traditional choir and traditional hymns.

Were this step to be taken I am fairly certain the members that have left would return and bring their money with them to help get our church out of huge debt. Once again, we could have hope that our beloved church built on excellence would survive. Until that happens, it is doubtful it will.

Remember, congregation and Hour of Power viewers around the world this is our Crystal Cathedral. It was the vision of Dr. Robert H. Schuller to develop this outstanding church to the Greater Glory of God. He did not build it nor did his family. We, the people of the church built it with our monetary contributions. The fiduciary obligation of the current leadership is to honor our musical preference.

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