Who are the Losers and who are the biggest Losers?

By Penrod Schoefield – July 31, 2011

In the ongoing saga of the Crystal Cathedral, there are going to be losers. With the Ministry in Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, it is anyone’s guess as to the eventual outcome. We all remember the Chrysler and GM bankruptcies that were fodder for both the print media and electronic media. While notable, these involved commercial for profit corporations. Emotions did not run high in the public mind set other than issues of the government’s willingness to bail them out with tax payer money.

Sadly, the bankruptcy filing of the Crystal Cathedral has a worldwide following salivating, all for very different reasons.

There are the bidders for the property looking to pick it up at fire sale prices. Of course, they say they are trying to “help us.” However, remember what you learned in psych class. “The stated motive is rarely the real motive.” At least the Catholics are up front about it, stating that it would cost them $100 million to build a cathedral in Santa Ana, They hope they can pick up our cathedral property for the bargain price of fifty million. If our church property were to be built from the ground up as it now stands at current market prices, I believe $200 million or more would be a conservative estimate.

There are those in the secular world and those who “hate” all religion salivating also, together with the “fundamentalists” who despise a church that espouses positive faith in a loving God. Those I have mentioned above would love to see a world renowned church that happens to be televised every weekend for over forty years, to be disbanded in disgrace.They want to see the Crystal Cathedral fail if not for any other reason than they can’t bear a Ministry that has demonstrated that the greatest sin of all is “lack of faith and trust in a loving, almighty God.

As almost every knows, Dr. Robert H. Schuller came to southern California with a mandate from Norman Vincent Peale in 1955 to build a church with $500 in cash and a dream built on positive faith. Though he had no money to develop the real estate that is now the campus of the Crystal Cathedral, he had the skill to articulate positive faith in God and motivate his local flock to support his dream both with financial gifts and a spirit to volunteer their services.

The Reverend Dr. Billy Graham convinced our Founding Pastor to take his Ministry of Positive faith to the medium of television. We all now know that from 1970 forward, the Hour of Power has been aired every Sunday and is now the longest running televised church service world wide.

In all of this, what has not been recognized is our Founding Pastor’s addiction. Yes, addiction! Several years ago, I can remember listening attentively as he began talking one Sunday in church about addiction. He went on to say everyone has an addiction to something. Some are addicted to alcohol, or sex, or illegal drugs, or perhaps even legal drugs. Then he went on to say, “I too, have an addiction. By then, everyone in the congregation was sitting on the edge of their seat . All were expecting to hear something juicy, forbidden or perhaps scandalous. Then, after a long pause, he said in his booming voice, “I... I... am addicted to excellence! Look around you and what do you see?

He was correct! He did have the vision to build the best for the greater Glory of God. In reference to those that criticized him for the architectural excellence of the cathedral campus he once said with the world wide television broadcast in mind, “One cannot launch a rocket ship from a canoe.”

Those were the good ole’ days. Hazel Wright had donated a large sum of money to build the finest organ to go with our all glass cathedral. Sadly, now that fine “King of Instruments” is little used. It no longer leads the inspiring hymns we all sang. It accompanied our world renowned choir under the direction of Don Neuen. However, he is now gone and so is our choir. We had one of the best sound mixers and audio engineers, Peter Baird. He is now gone also, on the “say so” of Scott V. Smith. I am not going to bore you, the reader, with any further ramblings. I think you get the picture.

So who are the losers in all of this? For one, the members of the Crystal Cathedral. The property on the corner of Chapman and Lewis that membership contributed to and at one point actually owned is one potential big loser. We could lose our place of Worship because of the fiduciary mismanagement of others coupled with the transfer of the real estate to Robert Schuller Ministries, Inc. While this may have been accomplished with the best of intentions, it is now something to regret in hindsight.

The drastic change in the style of the Sunday service has also turned off the Hour of Power viewers to the point where they have now “tuned out” and refuse to contribute financially to the Ministry. They have lost also but only to a degree. Most of Europe, Russia, and the Netherlands refuse to televise current CC services and opt to show reruns with RHS, RAS or Robbie V. Schuller preaching. Also, they refuse to show the current “Praise Team” and show our former traditional choir with Don Neuen directing and the Hour of Power Orchestra conducted by Mark Riley.

While we, the local membership and Hour of Power viewers have lost what was once inspirational to us, we won’t forget what we have learned about our positive faith in the good years. So, in the end, if we lose our church, we will still be okay.

Who are the biggest losers if the Crystal Cathedral does not live on in perpetuity, provided it once again returns to its traditional roots of a positive message and inspirational traditional music? I submit it is those that are not yet born to life on Earth. The as yet unborn! How many times have we heard about those in some unknown location that were suicidal and somehow found New Hope and called in and were miraculously saved  How many severely depressed and negative persons have accidentally discovered the Hour of Power broadcast and had their life changed for the better? No one really knows but God.

So you see, if this, possibly the greatest positive Ministry of all time that has introduced countless souls to God and Jesus Christ, were to die off in disgrace, how many of those not yet born to Earth would be relegated to a life of hopelessness and misery.

The stakes are just too high. No matter what, our Ministry has to be restored to what it once was or the World will be the big loser!