Unfortunately, this weekend only brings a fresh round of soap opera drama news about Garden Grove California’s famed Crystal Cathedral. This weekend THE HOUR OF POWER is airing an old rerun of a church service conducted by the younger Robert A. Schuller, who was actually pressured to resign from the head pastor role of the church in November 2008 because his religious style was much closer to Christian evangelism than the more secular psychology based “Prosperity Gospel” style of his father, Robert H. Schuller, the founder of the Crystal Cathedral. The Crystal Cathedral congregation could actually use their church for up to three years before the Roman Catholic Church in Orange takes over the building to make a Catholic Church out of the building, instead the eldest daughter of Robert H. Schuller, is actually conducting a church service in a rented movie theater. The Crystal Cathedral was sold last month due to bankruptcy for slightly more than $57 million to the Roman Catholic Church of Orange.
Sheila Schuller Coleman left the Crystal Cathedral Church last week in a major shakeup that also saw her father, Robert H. Schuller, leave the troubled church as well. This weekend, Coleman helped to found some new church at a $845 rented movie theater location, of which the rent money was donated to her. She reportedly offered her father the opportunity to speak at the church, but he declined the offer, instead choosing to file a lawsuit against the Crystal Cathedral Church for more than $3 million dollars claiming it is money they owe him for his intellectual property used by the church in his absence there.
Especially pathetic was that the first church service at the movie theater by Coleman drew only about 100 people, and popcorn cups were passed around to collect donation for the Hope Center Of Christ Church which will also use a hotel for church services next month, as the movie theater possibly has more important business to conduct such as running a movie.
All of this is sad and pathetic news for the once number one televised church service, THE HOUR OF POWER, which once boasted 25 million viewers worldwide as late at 2008 when the young Robert Schuller was ousted from the head pastor role by his father over their dispute over the spiritual content of the church. This family dispute over scripture and spiritual content has torn this church apart, only creating one of the most absurd religious soap operas in recent memory. Somewhere, some adult needed to step up and prevent this entire mess from developing back in 2008, but didn’t. The problems for the once huge mega-church now threaten to put it in a sorry pathetic mess much like the fall of Evangelist Jimmy Swaggart. Where Swaggart’s giant ministry was once a huge active congregation that has been reduced down to TV church services in an empty church solely for the greatly reduced TV audience after he was caught in a weird sex scandal of paying a prostitute to pose nude for him and later caught with another prostitute in his car in a second scandal and members of Swaggart’s church left in droves, sharply reducing his church and TV viewers both. Today, the tiny church looks pointless and silly to continue.
What was once the best mainline Protestant church service on television, hosted by two of the greatest pastor speakers, Robert H. Schuller, and his son, Robert A. Schuller, now looks pretty much reduced down to a pile of rubble. It’s a real heartbreak from what grew from it’s drive-in movie theater roots to becoming a TV church service in 1970, to claiming a huge 25 million TV audience each week, to now hitting free-fall.