The sale of Crystal Cathedral Ministries to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange was approved by a federal bankruptcy judge Thursday, following a major bidding war between the diocese and Orange County's Chapman University, reported The Washington Post.
Crystal Cathderal Ministries, a glass-walled Orange County church known for its Hour of Power broadcasts, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Oct. 18, 2010. Their debts surpassed $43 million, according to The Washington Post. The Schullers, church administrators who founded it in the 1950s, have come under fire after court documents revealed they may have taken nearly $10 million from the church's endowment funds.
Church officials maintain that revenue has plummeted since 2008 due to the recession and a loss of donations and ticket sales. However, members of the congregation also claim church administrators like the Schullers have been wasteful with the Cathedral's funds, citing the possibility of the missing $10 million from the endowment fund. The L.A. Times reported congregants have started an online petition to remove the Schuller family from the church board.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange has been endorsed by the Crystal Cathedral Ministries' board of directors and will be purchasing the 40-acre campus for $57.5 million, according the the L.A. Times. U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert N. Kwan has approved the sale during a hearing in Santa Ana Thursday.
Earlier this year, it seemed that the board of directors would favor Chapman University's bid, because the diocese is looking for a church of their own, while the university was just looking to expand their educational programs. The diocese plans to renovate and use the site for its own countywide cathedral, meaning former congregants of the Crystal Cathedral will need to find a new place of worship.
According to a statement released by the board of directors, they favored the diocese in the bidding war because the Catholic plan allows Crystal Cathedral ministry full and exclusive use of the Crystal Cathedral and the majority of the property for three years, reported Mecury News.
In a statement released by the church, according to the L.A. Times, Senior Pastor Sheila Schuller Coleman said, Escrow takes time to close. Nothing is final until the escrow closes. Although this decision breaks my heart, I still believe there is still plenty of time for God to do his miracle.
If, and when, the property sells to the diocese, Schuller claimes the ministry and their programs will continue, but from a different location. However, it is uncertain how many congregants will follow the Schuller's considering their frustrations with the family's handling of the Crystal Cathedral's finances.
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