Published: Sept. 21, 2011 Updated: 1:29 p.m.

Daughter: Schuller won't assume Crystal Cathedral leadership

Crystal Cathedral founder Robert H. Schuller will not take over the reins of his financially struggling church contrary to what is being said on Twitter and other Christian publications, his daughter Carol Schuller Milner said Wednesday.

By DEEPA BHARATH / THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER


GARDEN GROVE – Twitterverse is abuzz with talk about a statement made by Crystal Cathedral founder Rev. Robert H. Schuller as he left the federal courthouse in Santa Ana last week following a bankruptcy court hearing where the judge approved a process to facilitate the sale of the financially ailing church.

Schuller told NBC News: "I'm 85 years old and I've been thinking about the future of the church."

The statement has led to mounting speculation among Twitter users who have been following the sale issue, as well as Christian publications such as the Christian Post, that Schuller might try to regain control of the iconic Orange County ministry he started more than 55 years ago.

Schuller's daughter, Carol Schuller Milner, who accompanied her father to the Sept. 14 hearing, said Wednesday that her father is certainly not thinking about taking matters into his own hands.

"He is of course thinking about the future of the church, because he virtually raised it from the ground," Milner said. "When we were kids, we were told that the church was our sixth sibling."


But that does not mean Schuller is going to take over the reins of administration from his daughter, Sheila Schuller Coleman, who is now the senior pastor, Milner said.

Bob Canfield, a church member, said during the court hearing that he and other longtime members want the elder Schuller back at the helm and that they would be willing to raise $50 million if that happened.

Milner said Canfield's statements show that this is an emotional time for members and supporters of the Crystal Cathedral.

"They are coping with the loss of what (the church) once was," she said.

So far, the strongest bidders for the 40-acre campus are the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, which has offered $53.6 million in cash, and Chapman University, which is offering $50 million. Other bidders include My Father's International Church in Norco, Oklahoma-based arts and crafts retailer Hobby Lobby and Greenlaw Partners LLC.

The next step is for the 400-plus creditors involved in this case to vote on proceeding with the sale. A buyer is expected to be picked Oct. 31 and a sale confirmation hearing has been set for Nov. 14.

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