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Norco church leader defends bid for Crystal Cathedral

The leader of a nondenominational Norco church on Friday defended his $50-million bid for the bankrupt Crystal Cathedral, saying he has influential business and religious leaders backing the offer.

Mark A. Thomas, a co-founder of My Father’s House Church International, held a news conference to discuss the bid but then said he could not release the names of those supporters at this time.

On July 28, Thomas filed a $50-million offer in bankruptcy court for the Garden Grove church, founded by the Rev. Robert H. Schuller and his wife, Arvella. The church filed for bankruptcy in October, citing more than $50 million in debt.

Thomas’ plan calls for the "acceptance of" the Schuller family resignations, in addition to a full evaluation of church staff and officials, while maintaining that Schuller will be honored as the founder of the church.

"Crystal Cathedral belongs to God, not man," he said to dozens of supporters in attendance, many of whom wore stickers proclaiming, "Now's the time."

So far, there are various known suitors for the property, despite the church administration’s decision to rely on a faith-based donation effort to exit bankruptcy.

Thomas said his plan was the "right one," but that if the church can raise the money, he will "celebrate with them."

He gave no specifics on where the $50 million would come from and said that a bankruptcy lawyer was "not required at this point."

Jack Ayer, a professor emeritus of law at UC Davis, said it is not common to file a bid in bankruptcy court without representation.

"Nobody does the thing they are trying to do without a lawyer," he said. "You get together with the interested parties."

He added, "You could file a ham sandwich at the clerk’s office, but that doesn’t give you standing."


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