Crystal Cathedral bankruptcy creditors file more objections to executives' pay
The creditors in the Crystal Cathedral's bankruptcy case have filed more objections to what they describe as unnecessary pay to church insiders.
In their most recent documents filing Thursday, the creditors argued that the Garden Grove mega-church should not be allowed to continue employing William Gaultiere, the part-time pastor of Spiritual Formation Ministries and the son-in-law of longtime Chief Financial Officer Fred Southard.
The Crystal Cathedral requested to pay Gaultiere a total of $61,955 plus benefits, with $59,202 of the compensation coming in the form of a tax-exempt housing allowance, while the bankruptcy proceeds.
Earlier this week, creditors and the federal bankruptcy trustee objected to compensation that included a $140,000 housing allowance for Southard -– and also concluded that the church paid at least three insiders for redundant duties.
The church filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy one month ago. In the last two weeks, the federal trustee and a committee representing the creditors have filed objections to the church's salary requests for several insiders and members of founding pastor Robert H. Schuller's family -– giving a first glimpse into the finances of the church, which has long kept its records under wraps.
According to the documents filed Thursday, Gaultiere's job summary was: "Lead spiritual formation ministries for the Crystal Cathedral (CC), develop spiritual leaders and help them and interested church attendees to 'be with Jesus in order to become like him.'"
The creditors called the areas of ministry that Gaultiere oversees a "significant cash drain" and noted that other churches use volunteers to fill a similar role.
Marc Winthrop, the Crystal Cathedral's attorney in the bankruptcy case, said Thursday evening that he had not yet seen the latest objection and could not comment. He also declined to comment on specific issues raised in the previous objections, but he said the Crystal Cathedral disagrees with them.
"We don't think there's merit to the objections," he said.
Winthrop said he expects to file responses to the objections in the next week.
-- Abby Sewell
Photo: The Crystal Cathedral. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times