Crystal Cathedral: Judge approves sale to Diocese of Orange
A bankruptcy judge chose the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange as the buyer of the Crystal Cathedral for $57.5 million after an emotional hearing in Santa Ana on Thursday night, despite pleas by congregants and others that the 56-year-old ministry stay where it is.
According to the offer by the diocese, the Crystal Cathedral Ministry will have to relocate within three years.
Jim Dawson of Huntington Beach said the board decided on the diocese because of an overarching desire that the cathedral remain a place of worship.
According to the board bylaws, Dawson said, church assets must be irrevocably dedicated to religious purposes.
"We only had two buyers to choose from and we had to choose one or the other," he said.
He said he is sure the board would have loved to reject both offers, but that wasn't an option.
"We felt that the court had commissioned the board to make this decision and that's what we had before us and that is what we did," Dawson said.
Judge Robert Kwan decided shortly after 7 p.m. to the tears of members of the cathedral's congregation.
The church founded by the Rev. Robert H. Schuller and made famous by the "Hour of Power" television ministry, filed for bankruptcy Oct. 18 of last year, citing more than $50 million in debt.
Many congregants emotionally championed the Chapman University offer, pleading that the judge choose the school over the diocese.
James Kirkland Jr., 46, of Stanton told the judge that Chapman's was the best deal.
"They came to try to save us," he said.
Dawson said he foresees the transition as "difficult."
"But this church has made transitions over the years," he said. "The church according to Jesus Christ is not about the buildings."
-- Nicole Santa Cruz in Santa Ana
Photo: The Crystal Cathedral campus includes the Tower of Hope, left, and the cathedral itself, center. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times