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Schuller to get less than $1 million from bankrupt ministry

November 26, 2012 |  5:08 pm

Schuller to get less than $1 million from bankrupt ministry.

This post has been corrected. See note as bottom for details.

Robert H. Schuller -- the founder of Crystal Cathedral and long the face of the globally watched "Hour of Power" television program -- and his family will be paid less than $1 million dollars from the bankruptcy of his former ministry.

Schuller’s family described Monday’s ruling as a “travesty.”

“We’ll start liquidating everything,” said Carol Milner, one of Schuller’s daughters.

The ruling out of Bankruptcy Court in Los Angeles clears the way for Crystal Cathedral's remaining creditors -- some of them small-time vendors who helped stage the church’s opulent Christmas and Easter services -- to collect on more than $12 million they claim they are owed by the Garden Grove-based ministry.

Other vendors, such as the woman who provided the camels, donkeys and sheep for the Christmas pageant, said they couldn't wait for their payments and chose to sell off their claims.

The creditors in the Crystal Cathedral bankruptcy could be paid off before the end of the year.

The ruling cut short a 10-day trial focused on unpaid contracts and copyright infringement claims filed by Schuller, his wife Arvella, his daughter and his son-in-law. The claims had delayed payments to creditors in the 2010 bankruptcy that resulted in the sale of the towering Garden Grove cathedral to the Catholic church.

"It's the result we had hoped for," said Nanette Sanders, an attorney representing the creditors in the case.

The family claimed they were owed millions in the case, but Judge Robert N. Kwan ruled that the family will receive less than a million dollars.

The ministry, once known for its showy services and uplifting sermons, filed for bankruptcy protection in 2010, citing $50 million in debt.

The claims led to Schuller and his wife’s resignation from the ministry’s board of directors. Within days, his daughter, then the senior pastor, left the church to start her own ministry, effectively severing all ties that the founding family had to the church.

[For the record 6 p.m., Nov. 26: An earlier version of this post incorrectly said a church trumpet player and a plumber were among the Crystal Cathedral creditors who sold off their claims. Neither sold off their claims.]


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Photo: Robert Schuller and wife Arvella leave bankruptcy court after the rulling. Credit: Francine Orr /  Los Angeles Times