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Vendors say Crystal Cathedral owes them tens of thousands of dollars


Vendors who helped produce popular Christmas and Easter pageants at the Crystal Cathedral megachurch in Garden Grove said Thursday that they are owed tens of thousands of dollars for their work.

The towering glass church, founded by Robert H. Schuller in the 1950s and home to an international ministry and the popular "Hour of Power" televangelist broadcast, has long been a symbol of success. But the church has struggled financially in the last two years, laying off workers and seeing revenues drop 27%.

Now the financial pain has spread to vendors involved with the "Glory of Easter"  and "Glory of Christmas" pageants, elaborate productions that attract thousands of spectators.

"They simply quit paying us," said Sharon Crabtree of Murrieta. "We're all astounded by this."

For 25 years, Crabtree said, she has designed props, decorated sets and provided wigs and special makeup for the productions. She said church officials have yet to provide an explanation regarding the nearly $20,000 owed to her.

"At the very least, we should have been treated with a little more respect," she said.

Church spokesman John Charles could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon. But in January, he told The Times that the ministry was battered by the recession and suffering from declining television viewership and a drop in contributions from its aging congregation.

Kristina Oliver of Hemet has provided camels, donkeys and sheep for the Christmas play for about 14 years, as did her mother for a number of years before that.

Since January, Oliver said she's been trying to collect $57,000 in back pay. "They weren't telling me what was going on," she said.

Finally, Oliver said, she received an e-mail several days ago from church officials saying that they would try to pay her sometime in the future when they reach financial stability. But vendors are not optimistic.

"It doesn't look good," Crabtree said.

-- Robert J. Lopez

Photo: Crystal Cathedral complex, including the Tower of Hope. Credit: Los Angeles Times.

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Comments () | Archives (11)

It's not very Christian to steal people's goods and services.

Imagine how much earlier these poor vendors would have been stiffed if this entity had to pay taxes like the rest of us do. Then again, their affairs might be in better order if they had the fear of the taxman in them.

Dr. Schuller and his ministry has made a difference for many people, including me, since the church was founded in 1950. The vendors that were quoted in this article were blessed to have been a part of a flourishing ministry for so many years! It seems to me that the Crystal Cathedral treated them well for many, many years until they recently had financial strains. It saddens me that these vendors would turn to the media and potentialy worsen the situation of the Crystal Cathedral.

I believe that the Crystal Cathedral will hold true to the founding values of the ministry, make the necessary adjustments needed to their cost structure and prevail through this storm!

After all the bad publicity over the years of these questionable religious groups, I would investigate their finances.

Here's the worst part - they ACT like they don't have any money, but who are they fooling? Only themselves. Even though Schuller may have been the best of the televangelist bunch, what it boils down to is he was still a televangelist. A synonym for crook. I feel for the people who are owed money, but all I can say is, when you deal with crooks, expect crooked behavior. More likely than not they will have to hire attorneys to try to recoup some of what they are owed. And then who will make out? Not the vendors, but the attorneys. Which, as everyone knows, is another synonym for crook.

Funny, So the Schuler family are nothing but a group of hypocrites. They will no doubt claims they know nothing about it. And all due to an aging congregation? The Schulers should realize that as they age, they are closed to the promised land and they have to dig deeper into their pocketbooks to assure it will happen. Nothing but thieves.

Is it really such a bad thing that this is happining to, not just this church, but all churchs? Look at any religion and see the corruption.

This tells me a lot about the moral fiber of the people running this place.

I am sure the people running this religious scam DO NOT miss a paycheck for themselves. Bunch of crooks!

Ministries are just as affected by this (recession?) as anyone else. Christians don't escape tough times they just
go through them. It is very sad for the vendors but these things do happen in the business world. It's a chance we take whether we are dealing with a non profit ministry or a huge company. My prayers go out to the Crystal Cathedral and all of it's vendors that everything will work out for the Glory of God.

Religion or Business ? How sad is to see that a very thing line separates one from the other, yet they call them self "men of God"


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