If there ever was a congregation that was "domestically abused" by a Pastor and their
family, it is the local congregation of the Crystal Cathedral. I come from a mainline
denomination, the United Church of Christ, with reformed polity.
Every rule in the book, and few outside the book called transparency, congregational
participation, have been broken by the Schuller family. I've seen, through the years,
a charismatic figure and family making verbal promises while taking away the very
property of the congregation, not to mention the HOP participants in contributing
income. I was one of those contributors for years, as I deeply appreciated RHS when
I came home from Nam.
But as a parish pastor I must say that the CC is an archetypal example of textbook
"what goes wrong" when reformed polity, congregational participation isn't honored.
I honestly look at some of the comments here, as well as the board welcoming back
a Schuller to the pulpit, and it is apparent that the unelected, secretive board
isn't considering the future of the local congregation.
The CC had a great opportunity to move forward into the future. The reason Marble
Collegiate Church in NYC is still around is that , for one, it is around 300 years
old, they followed their polity in choosing the successor to Dr. Norman Vincent Peale,
and when Dr. Arthur Calliandro retired a few years ago, the congregation chose a
new senior pastor by vote.
Churches founded on personalities and families are usually scandal ridden as far
as finances. I was hopeful that the local congregation would break out of their "domestic
violence victim mentality" and demand participation in the governing of their church
and the HOP. If the idea is to invite Bobby Schuller back in hopes of having the
family's lawsuit diminished, lots of luck. As a mainline pastor, I know that, if
I did what the Schullers did, not paying faithful vendors, giving myself hidden salary
benefits, I would not even be in a church.
All the good RHS did doesn't excuse his irresponsibility towards the congregation.
I quit contributing when Sheila stole the pastorate. I was almost ready to give again,
till I read that the non-elected governing board is wooing parts of the Schuller
I have nothing against Bobby, or RAS. I've even purchased RAS's recent book and found
it excellent reading. But the past is the past, and if there is survival, a new face
must appear as senior pastor. As one who deals with conflict management in churches
I can tell you that the hypocrisy about the Schullers seems deep.
I won't be contributing to the HOP. Once I saw the board's intent, from last week's
meeting, I was disgusted.
Blessings to you for keeping the hope alive all these months through this excellent
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