The financial crisis and the troubled times that followed have hit every sector of the economy. Even churches have been hit hard. Now Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California has filed for bankruptcy. It is apparent that nothing is sacred.
After struggling to cope with a staggering debt that exceeds $43 million, the mega church Crystal Cathedral has found it necessary to seek protection of a Chapter 11.
Affiliated with the Reformed Church in America, the church, then known as Garden Grove Community Church, was founded in 1955 by Robert H. Schuller and his wife, Arvella. Church services were then held in space rented from the Orange Drive-In Theatre.
The modern day mega church was completed in 1980 with the prayer spire completed in 1990. Its church services are broadcast around the world on a television show called The Hour of Power, said to be the most-watched Christian program worldwide, with an estimated average of 20 million viewers tuning in each week.
According to Associated Press, in addition to the church's $36 million mortgage, the church owes $7.5 million to several hundred vendors for services ranging from advertising to the use of live animals in Easter and Christmas services.
But in a church press release it says, "Despite the current and ongoing economic climate, the most recent financial reports for the Crystal Cathedral Ministries indicate the best cash flow the Ministry has experienced in 10 years."
Dr. Sheila Schuller Coleman, Senior Pastor of the Crystal Cathedral said, "We are pleased to report that the current Ministry outreach and operations will continue while we address the past due expenses that were incurred in 2009, when budgets could not be cut fast enough to keep up with the unprecedented rapid decline in revenue due to the recession."
The church leaders say the ministry will continue as is while in bankruptcy including all Sunday services, the weekly nationally and internationally telecast Hour of Power, all weekly church activities and the Crystal Cathedral Academy & High School.
The church is reportedly avoiding credit entirely and spends only the roughly $2 million it receives each month in donations and revenue.
In a statement to AP, Jim Penner, a church pastor and executive producer of the "Hour of Power" said, "What we're doing now is we're trying to walk what we preach, we're paying cash for things as we go."