An email sent out to the Crystal Cathedral's congregation requested meals for founder Robert Schuller's wife, Arvella, who is sick with pneumonia. Crystal Cathderal Ministries, a glass-walled Orange County church known for its Hour of Power broadcasts, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Oct. 18. The Schullers, church administrators, have come under fire after court documents revealed they may have taken nearly $10 million from the church's endowment funds.
The email sent by Pastor Jim Kok asked parishioners not to send cards, because church staff and the Schullers want to keep her illness under the radar.
However, they would appreciate meals over the next three to four weeks, the email states, reported The Orange County Register. They are to be sent to the church in order to be transported to Arvella. The limo drivers could pick up the dinners or meet in the Tower Lobby around 4:30 p.m.
Many parishioners are outraged over the email considering the cathedral's bankruptcy and the Schuller's involvement.
These are millionaires who have limos and chauffeurs, an outraged member, Bob Canfied, 73, told The Orange County Register. Why in God's name would they want the congregants to deliver meals? It's ludicrous.
The email also states specific standards for the meals, noting they should be low in sodium and include fruits, meats, soup and egg dishes, like quiches.
Members of the congregation also claim it is another example of wasteful spending by the church administrators. The L.A. Times reported Canfield and others have started an online petition to remove the Schullers from the church board.
They've completely depleted the church's funds, Canfield told The Register. But they have shown that they have absolutely no remorse for what they've done. They're still being chauffeured around in limos. We, the congregants, have nothing.
John Charles, the Cathedral spokesman, told The Register that the email was an effort to rally support around the Schullers, both in their 80s.
We didn't want people going to their home because they are very private people, Charles told The Register. That's why we asked that the food be dropped off at the tower so the limo drivers can pick them up and deliver them.
You have to wonder if it is lonely at the top, if the Schullers don't have the support of the many family members who live in the area, Shirley Zink told The Register. She had served as a greeter for the church for 35 years.
I'm looking for another church, she said. But like many others, I leave heartbroken, mourning the loss of what once was.
The 40-acre Crystal Cathedral's campus is expected to be sold on Nov. 14 to Chapman University for $51.5 million. The University has competed with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange (who offered $53.6 million). The cathedral's board and creditors named Chapman University their preferred buyer because the Schullers will remain at the ministry with a buyback arrangement under the Chapman plan.