Despite bankruptcy, Crystal Cathedral considers staging 'Glory of Christmas'
A lawyer in the Crystal Cathedral bankruptcy case hinted that the church is considering staging its annual Glory of Christmas event, which had been cancelled earlier this year because of the organization's financial woes.
“There may be an effort to stage the Glory of Christmas this year,” said Marc Winthrop, an attorney for the church.
The church was started by the Rev. Robert H. Schuller in a rented drive-in movie theater in 1955 and came to prominence through the "Hour of Power" television show. In 1981, Schuller began the Glory of Christmas pageant. Soon after, the Glory of Easter followed. In order to produce what was once considered a costly show, the cathedral would have to receive approval from the court to change its budget.
The Garden Grove megachurch filed for bankruptcy last month, citing the bad economy and a 24% drop in donations in 2009. The church owes more than 500 creditors between $50 million and $100 million, according to the initial filing.
As a result of the financial troubles, the church canceled its Easter pageant earlier this year. Then, it canceled the Christmas event.
The pageant, which Schuller started almost 30 years ago, utilizes live animals and elaborate costumes. Usually, the show would open the day after Thanksgiving. Rehearsals would begin in November. Gwyn Myers, a financial consultant for the church, said the talks are only preliminary. “We’re basically seeing if we can pull it off,” she said. It is unclear if the production will use professionals or volunteers.
The church did not return requests for comment Wednesday.
“Obviously there are a lot of expenses that go into staging a production of that magnitude,” Winthrop said after the hearing. “You have to rent the camels.”
Conwell S. Worthington, who co-owns an entertainment company, directed the Christmas and Easter shows from 1983 to 1986.
“In my professional opinion, could it be done?” he said. “Yes.”
But, he cautioned, the move could be risky. “There’s just not enough time to sell, prep and market,” he said.
-- Nicole Santa Cruz in Santa Ana
Photo: An angel from "The Glory of Christmas." Credit: Chris Costea / Crystal Cathedral.