Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Turmoil grips Crystal Cathedral as Schullers exit

March 12, 2012 |  5:46 am

Crystal Cathedral pastor is leaving

Turmoil continued to grip the trouble Crystal Cathedral on Sunday amid signs that the congregation could become split by the discord.

The senior pastor announced Sunday that she was leaving to start a new church.

"This is the last Sunday we will be worshiping in this building," Pastor Sheila Schuller Coleman told congregants during an emotional 11 a.m. service in the 10,000-pane glass cathedral, designed by architect Phillip Johnson.

Schuller Coleman's announcement came one day after her parents, church founder Robert H. Schuller and his wife, Arvella Schuller, resigned from the Crystal Cathedral's board of directors, which oversees the ministry's trademark "Hour of Power" broadcast. The future of the show and the bankrupt Crystal Cathedral Ministries is unclear.

Schuller Coleman said she was leaving because of her family's "adversarial" relationship with the board. She pointed to the recent firings of her sister and brother-in-law, Jim Penner, who served as the executive producer of "Hour of Power" since 1999.

"My entire family has been experiencing a hostile work environment," said Schuller Coleman, who was temporarily removed as chief executive officer of the ministry last month.

After the pastor's surprise announcement, the Rev. Bill Bennett assured congregants that Crystal Cathedral Ministries would hold services next Sunday.

"The congregation can basically stay where they wish to stay," Bennett said later.

He said the church would revert to what he called a more "traditional" style of service, with hymns and music. It is unknown who will take over as senior pastor. The church was sold to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange in February for $57.5 million, and the ministry has three years to find a new home.

He said Crystal Cathedral Ministries has nothing to do with Schuller Coleman's plans for the Hope Center of Christ. In a video posted on the new church's website, Schuller Coleman, sitting next to Penner, said a location for her church would be announced within the next two weeks.

--Nicole Santa Cruz

Photo: Members of the Crystal Cathedral congregation exit the church after Sunday's 11 a.m. service at which Senior Pastor Sheila Schuller Coleman announced that was leaving the Garden Grove landmark to start her own church. The announcement came a day after her parents, church founder Robert H. Schuller and his wife, Arvella, resigned from the board of directors. (Arkasha Stevenson, Los Angeles Times / March 11, 2012)