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Crystal Cathedral: With Schullers gone, guest pastor to fill in

March 13, 2012 |  4:28 pm

Congregants leave Crystal Cathedral  after Senior Pastor Sheila Schuller Coleman's last sermon.

Facing its first Sunday since its very public parting with the Schuller family, Crystal Cathedral ministries announced Tuesday that it has asked the president of the California Graduate School of Theology to fill in as guest pastor this weekend.

Lawrence Wilkes' guest appearance comes after the high-profile exit of Sheila Schuller Coleman, who announced Sunday that she was leaving the church her father founded and would start another church.

Her departure followed the resignation of her father, Robert H. Schuller and his wife, Arvella Schuller, from the ministry’s board of directors, which oversees the church’s  “Hour of Power” television broadcast.

Robert Schuller, in a statement this week, commended his daughter's decision to leave the ministry to start her own church. However, Schuller and his wife said they would not be moving with their daughter to her new ministry, nor would they be active participants in the Crystal Cathedral.

"How we express ourselves in worship remains up in the air," they said.

Church officials said they would return to a “traditional” style of worship with hymns, a full choir and an orchestra.

Wilkes, has long been involved with the Garden Grove church. He joined the staff of the Crystal Cathedral in 1991 and, at one point, was dean of the Robert Schuller School for Preaching, according to an online biography. He is still an on-call minister at the cathedral for weddings and funerals.

Church officials announced earlier Tuesday that services will continue at the Crystal Cathedral at 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. The “Hour of Power” will also be taped, and a new service will air in two weeks.

Bill Weller has volunteered at the cathedral for almost two decades and said he was looking forward to Wilkes.

“Everybody knows Dr. Wilkes, everybody loves Dr. Wilkes,” said Weller, of Anaheim. “He is just a jewel.”

The elder Schullers left the board because of a monetary dispute involving copyright infringement, breach of contract and intellectual property claims that could total more than $5.5 million.

Various proposals have been considered, including a settlement with the Schullers for $3.5 million, which, if paid, would leave the Crystal Cathedral Ministries with “insufficient” funds to operate the ministry, according to an updated statement.


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Photo: Congregants leave Crystal Cathedral  after Senior Pastor Sheila Schuller Coleman's last sermon. Credit: Arkasha Stevenson/Los Angeles Times