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Crystal Cathedral laying off workers, selling property, canceling "Hour of Power" in some markets [Updated]

January 29, 2010 |  5:50 pm

The Crystal Cathedral, the Garden Grove megachurch, is laying off workers, selling surplus property and may be pulling its “Hour of Power” television show from eight markets in the wake of a precipitous drop in contributions.

[Updated at 7:40 p.m.: An earlier version of this post said the church was pulling its "Hour of Power" TV show from a dozen markets.]

The 7,000-member church has also canceled its “Glory of Easter” pageant, a popular reenactment of the life and death of Jesus Christ, which sold tens of thousands of tickets each year.

“This cuts to the heart of our ministry,” said spokesman John Charles. “It is sad news.”

Charles said that the church’s revenue dropped 27% from roughly $30 million in 2008 to $22 million in 2009. “Our indicators show that 2010 revenue will drop,” he added. “If it maintains, that would be fine, but we don't have a crystal ball, so we are cutting.”

The church, founded by the Rev. Robert H. Schuller more than 50 years ago, lost members in the wake of a family feud after he stepped down. His son, the Rev. Robert A. Schuller, succeeded his father, but stepped down in 2008 after disagreements. His sister, Sheila Schuller Coleman, is now the church’s leader.

[Updated at 7:10 p.m.: A previous version of this post incorrectly identified the founder as Robert A. Schuller and his son as Robert A. Schuller Jr.]

Charles said the church surveyed its members last fall to see if the dispute had caused a drop in revenue. But he said, “We found out it had no effect. It is the economy. We have people living on fixed incomes and a lot of older, retired people. Revenue has dropped at all nonprofits across the board.”

--Margot Roosevelt