Leaders of Orange County’s bankrupt Crystal Cathedral backed away from talk of selling and called on congregants and “Hour of Power” television viewers to open their checkbooks to help erase more than $50 million in debt.
The announcement that the architecturally rich Garden Grove campus is not for sale came during Sunday morning services and followed a vote Thursday by its board of directors. Last week the church reorganized the board, adding five members.
In a statement, church founder Robert H. Schuller called the decision not to sell “unexpected” but applauded the effort.
“It’s time to focus on rescue, not abandonment,” he said. “It’s time to face our mountain.”
Several would-be buyers had come forward, including Greenlaw Partners, a real estate group; the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange; Chapman University; and My Father’s House Church International, based in Norco.
“We really as a board came together and made the commitment that the cathedral is not for sale at any price,” board member Walt Kallestad said during the service.
But longtime congregant Jim McDonald, who is organizing a petition to remove voting Schuller family members from the church’s board, had doubts whether the money could be raised.
“If you hadn’t been able to do it in 10 months, how are you going to do it now?” he said, referring to the church’s bankruptcy filing last fall.
A bankruptcy exit plan would require approval from Judge Robert Kwan. A hearing is scheduled Monday.