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Group seeks probe of Crystal Cathedral board shake-up

July 29, 2011 |  8:32 pm

The organizers of an online petition seeking an independent board of directors for the financially troubled Crystal Cathedral called on the federal bankruptcy trustee Friday to "investigate the validity" of the church's recent board shake-up.

The Garden Grove church, which is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy, announced Wednesday that its board had been expanded from five members to nine and restored founder Robert H. Schuller to voting status.  The new configuration means five members are independent.

"While the changes reflect a movement that appears to be in the right direction, it does not address the basic issues of conflict of interest and self-imposed positions by the Schuller family," according to a statement released by petition organizers.

The new board consists of Schuller; his wife, Arvella; daughter and senior pastor Sheila Schuller Coleman; son-in-law Jim Penner; and five independent members. Schuller Coleman serves as a non-voting member and interim chairwoman.

The board is considering at least four offers to buy the property, which would allow the church to exit bankruptcy.

But Jim McDonald. a spokesman for the online petition drive, said the local congregation should have more of a voice in how the church is run.

"There’s no vendetta here," he said of the call for an investigation. "There’s no behind-the-scenes motivation."

According to the group's statement released Friday, the board should include two permanent non-voting Schuller family positions and one Reformed Church in America non-voting position.

In terms of voting members, it says there should be representatives from the international "Hour of Power," an independent legal advisor and three members of the church elected by the local church council.

The statement also asks that it be this new suggested board that decides whether to accept an offer from a potential buyer.

There are at least four suitors for the property, including My Father’s House Church International, which on Thursday filed a formal letter of intent to purchase the Crystal Cathedral for $50 million.

In a statement, the Norco-based church said it plans to continue day-to-day operations of the Schuller ministry and will hold a news conference Aug. 5 to discuss its bid.

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