Published: July 27, 2011 Updated: 5:06 p.m.

Schuller back voting on Crystal Cathedral board

The founding pastor of the Crystal Cathedral was voted back into his church's board and those who ousted him are gone.

By DEEPA BHARATH / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER


GARDEN GROVE – Crystal Cathedral founder Rev. Robert H. Schuller has been reinstated on the megachurch's board as a voting member, and two other members who stripped the founding pastor of his authority have been ousted, officials said Wednesday.

In the latest move in the ongoing saga at the cathedral, the board of directors voted Friday to expand and enlarge the board by bringing the number of voting members to eight from five, according to a statement released by the cathedral.

However, two board members, Rick Mysse, a former official with the Reformed Church in America, and Gwyn Myers, the church's financial consultant, were voted off the board, said John Charles, a spokesman for the church. Both Mysse and Myers cast votes in favor of depriving Schuller of his vote during last month's meeting, he said.

The board shakeup comes following an outcry over Schuller's ouster that prompted church members to start a petition drive to "take back their church." It also comes at a time when members will be making a significant decision about who should buy the financially troubled cathedral. There are four known offers – from Newport Beach-based developer, Greenlaw Partners LLC., Chapman University, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange and My Father's House Church International in Norco.

Robert H. Schuller said in the statement that the new board "is a formula that will guarantee success for both our local Crystal Cathedral ministry and its ministry mission to the people of the world through the televised "Hour of Power," now in its 43rd year."

"I applaud these dear board members for taking the bold step in helping us to continue to lead the way in positive, life-changing ministry," he said in the statement.

The International Board of Directors for Crystal Cathedral Ministries now consists of the following members – Robert H. Schuller; his wife Arvella Schuller; James Penner, Schuller's son-in-law; longtime church member Ruby Rinker; Rev. Walt Kallestad, pastor of Community Church of Joy in Glendale, Ariz.; and three members from the Crystal Cathedral Consistory – Diane Highum, Paul Lips and Yvette Manson. Sheila Schuller Coleman, the oldest Schuller daughter and the senior pastor leading the ministry, is interim chairman of the board, a non-voting position.

The Crystal Cathedral Consistory governs the local Crystal Cathedral Congregation under the auspices of the Reformed Church in America. The "Hour of Power" is governed by the International Board of Directors for Crystal Cathedral Ministries.

Schuller's daughter, Carol Schuller Milner, said her parents were not at the June meeting where Schuller was voted off the board.

"When they found out about it, they were extremely upset," she said.

The church later issued a statement that the board had actually honored the founder by making him chairman of the Board Emeritus in a non-voting capacity.

"There were a lot of motions made in that meeting that no one clearly understood," Milner said. There was also a lot of dissension in that relatively small board, she said.

But at the end of the meeting, her father, the man who founded one of Orange County's iconic ministries, was off his own church's board, she said.

Board members will now consider the several purchase offers that are before them. Milner said her parents were most distraught over the proposal from Greenlaw, which offered $46 million for the 40-acre property, but also proposed putting hundreds of apartments on campus.

She said her father was always welcoming of all denominations.

"He would be open to all proposals including the Catholic Church," Milner said. "But the ideal situation would be to have Crystal Cathedral Ministries continue and be there for generations to come."

Kallestad was a product of Schuller's Institute for Successful Leadership, a training program for pastors, Milner said.




"Dr. Schuller encouraged pastors not to tell people about their sins, but to encourage their dreams," she said. "He really tutored and shifted the mindset of all these pastors. Walt Kallestad was one of those pastors who truly understand the Crystal Cathedral and what direction it should take."

Donna Schuller, wife of Robert A. Schuller, said she was happy to hear that her father-in-law is back on the enlarging the board has been on the older Schuller's mind for a while, Milner said. For the last three years, since her brother, Robert A. Schuller, left the ministry after a bitter family feud and the church started having serious financial troubles that culminated in its Oct. 18 filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, few have volunteered or have even shown a willingness to serve on the board, she said.

Milner said her parents have been looking for people who "really understand what the cathedral is about – its mission and its heart."

"The Schullers want people on the board who have that understanding coupled with the ability to be reasonable and make decisions that are prudent, and yet, filled with hope and belief," she said.

Milner said Ruby Rinker, a Florida resident, was one of the first members of Schuller's ministry at the Orange drive-in theater 55 years ago.

"She was a 17-year-old surfer girl when she joined my father's ministry," she said.

Rinker donated millions to complete the Welcoming Center on the Crystal Cathedral's campus. It was her major gift that helped complete the building. In fact, the lobby of the Welcoming Center is named after her, in honor of her generosity to the cathedral.

Donna Schuller, wife of Robert A. Schuller, said she was happy to hear that her father-in-law is back on the board where he belongs. She also commended the ministry for enlarging the board, something her husband was criticized for during his time there.


"This is the smartest thing they have done in a long, long time," she said.


A group of longtime members who started a petition drive on the web site, www.crystalcathedralmusic.net, say they will continue with the petition drive. Jim McDonald, one of the members organizing the petition drive, says it still does not address their concerns of having a truly independent board.

"There are still three family members on the board and three members of the consistory," he said.


Also, none of the members of the congregation or the elders were consulted, McDonald said.

"We are not rushing to any judgment about the new board," he said. "But on the surface, it seems inadequate in terms of addressing our concerns about conflict of interest and giving members their church


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


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