Dear Penrod Reader,

A few comments before we begin.  What follows is not of interest to everyone.

If you are a local congregant, happy with your weekly worship at Shepherd’s Grove and unconcerned about other matters, this is not for you.  You should continue to be blessed with your fellowship and the quiet enjoyment of the services.

If you are a Penrod reader from somewhere else and you come to this site to learn about this ministry, this is an editorial. Which means it is clearly labeled as opinion, mine.  Should you read things here that concern you, I would encourage you to read – carefully – what others write and form your own opinions.

There is nothing here that I am writing because I feel the need to say mean things. To the contrary I’ve invested my time in this because I care deeply about the legacy of this beloved ministry and I would like to see it succeed.


      Jim Kirkland


Part 3

I have been active in the Crystal Cathedral Ministry for more than twenty-five years as an employee, worshiper, and contributor in many ways. Often people ask me why I am still around, and there are days when I ask myself this question, too.

I am still around because I believe in the important work that this ministry has done for so many people here and around the world. I had the benefit of being a contributor in the “good times,” which are still a wonderful part of my soul and my faith. I also have the benefit of many lifelong relationships that I share with others from this congregation and I appreciate the support I’ve received as “Penrod” in the last few years.

When the ministry chose bankruptcy, things were disclosed that had been kept secret for many years. We were all shocked, and we all cast blame anywhere and everywhere we could.  As the Crystal Cathedral era came to an end, more evidence made it clear that problems had existed for many years.  We all sat there and watched our beloved ministry erode and then cast blame when the truth was made public.

God gives us free will so we can make mistakes like these, such as not seeing problems that are clearly right before our eyes.  He expects us to learn from these mistakes.  That’s the blessing of free will.

I have written several opinion pieces this week to tell you that I fear we’re seeing the same mistakes occurring again, right before our same eyes.  If we avoid them this time, we have no one to blame but ourselves. This time we can’t say Mr. X or Ms. Y did such-and-such. We’ve used that gift of free will.  This time we are just as guilty as anyone else for allowing this ministry to fail.

Are we about to fail? I hope not, but that’s not the point.  Too many of us are not asking questions, understanding what’s really going on, or being pro-active to make sure that mistakes aren’t being made again. That’s the lesson from the past that we should have learned by now.

The sad truth is that our leadership doesn’t want us to ask questions or be active in leading the ministry. They want us to donate, applaud and not make any waves.  The problems we have as a ministry are always someone else’s fault; we’ll overcome if we just sit around and remain loyal.

Anyone see a reason why we should sit around and do nothing now when that approach failed so miserably the first time?

As I tried to point out earlier, I think there’s one major difference in the “sequel.” The leadership this time is not even close to being qualified for the task at hand.  Too many are there just because they’ve been loyal; because they have tenure as insiders. This leadership will not serve us well.

Several people have written and suggested that I should make recommendations on giving. I don’t think that’s my role here, but I will say this.

If you choose to remain as a dutiful tithing worshiper at Dawson’s Grove, you should expect the following:

1.) All decisions regarding programs, leadership roles, hiring and firing, mission activities and expenditures will be made by a small group of people who do not wish to be accountable to anyone but themselves. This group is headed by a self-appointed leader who cannot be confronted or questioned because she’s a significant donor.

2.)  Transparency and openness will be highly selective.  You’ll be told to believe certain things so you will be supportive and positive at all times.

3.) If you make too many suggestions or have the audacity to disagree with things this group does, you will be quietly shunned. You’ll be on a list of a people who are considered disruptive and negative.  If you carry it too far, you’ll earn membership in the elite Roger Williams Memorial Club of people who were offended so many times they chose never to return again.

4.) We are all going to have to be very patient with Bobby Schuller as he rebuilds his role in this ministry.  It will likely take some time before he acknowledges that he’s getting bad advice and needs a mentor; then we’ll have to find one.  For Bobby’s sake, we need to make sure that our ruling insiders don’t begin to exert their influence on the Tree of Life congregation.  That would be a shame!

So, dear friends, the decisions are yours.  But don’t come to me and ask me to blame anyone from now on.  We’re all in this together.

Before you click on to another page, let’s each take a moment here and pray that the Lord will guide us to do the right things to bring this beloved ministry to a place that He, and we can be proud of.

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