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Crystal Cathedral announces changes to TV-ministries board

Crystal Cathedral officials announced Wednesday that Senior Pastor Sheila Schuller Coleman has temporarily left the board that oversees the production of the church's landmark "Hour of Power" television show.

The oldest daughter of founder Rev. Robert H. Schuller, Schuller Coleman was serving as chief executive of the bankrupt Crystal Cathedral Ministries and was the board's nonvoting interim chairwoman.

John Charles, who has held various administrative positions over the last 15 years and most recently served as the church's spokesman, will take over as interim chief executive and president.

"The leadership changes to the board of directors for Crystal Cathedral Ministries are temporary, and we believe that they will be good for the Crystal Cathedral during this time of transition," according to a statement released through a public relations firm.

The statement said the changes were made to avoid a potential conflict of interest with the congregation board, a separate entity that is not under the umbrella of Crystal Cathedral Ministries. The move also would allow Schuller Coleman to "concentrate on her duties as pastor and on casting the vision for the future of the ministry."

Officials later acknowledged that Jim Penner, the executive producer of "Hour of Power" since 1999, also left the board. Penner is married to Schuller's youngest daughter, Gretchen.

In an e-mail, Penner said he was "very pleased" about the move because now he can focus more on his role as a pastor at the church and as the television ministry's executive.

Schuller Coleman took over leadership of the entire ministry in June 2009, after her brother, Robert A. Schuller, resigned from the senior pastor position. Sixteen months later, Crystal Cathedral Ministries filed for bankruptcy, citing $50 million in debt that was blamed on the economic downturn.

"I'm very grateful for John's help and support at this time," Schuller Coleman said in the statement. "We're prayerfully considering many options regarding the new location for the church and the ministry and are excited about the future. We're confident we will end up where God needs us most."

On Feb. 3, the Garden Grove campus was sold to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange for $57.5 million.

The diocese plans to convert the 10,000-pane cathedral for Catholic worship in three years. In a statement released that day, Schuller Coleman said the ministry had begun a search for a new home for the "Hour of Power," one that is within 10 miles. She asked congregants to "embrace" her vision. "Be assured that this ministry is not about a church building," she said. "It is about building a church!"

The news announced Wednesday came after speculation over the weekend by longtime congregants that Schuller Coleman and Penner had been fired from the board of directors of the Crystal Cathedral Ministries. On Monday and Tuesday, the church did not return repeated e-mails and phone calls requesting comment.

Charles declined to comment.

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