Associated Press Writer
GARDEN GROVE, Calif. (AP)– Crystal Cathedral, the megachurch birthplace of the televangelist show Hour of Power, has filed for bankruptcy in Southern California after struggling to emerge from debt that exceeds $43 million.
In addition to a $36 million mortgage, the Orange County-based 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.
The church had been negotiating a repayment plan with vendors but several filed lawsuits seeking quicker payment, which prompted a coalition formed by creditors to fall apart, church officials said.
“Tough times never last, every storm comes to an end. Right now, people need to hear that message more than ever,” Sheila Schuller Coleman, the Cathedral’s senior pastor and daughter of the founder, told reporters.
The church, founded in the mid-1950s by the Rev. Robert H. Schuller Sr., has already ordered major layoffs, cut the number of stations airing the Hour of Power and sold property to stay afloat.
Crystal Cathedral was founded at a drive-in theater and attracted congregants with its sermons on the power of positive thinking. It features a soaring glass spire and is an architectural wonder and tourist destination.
The Hour of Power telecast, filmed in the cathedral’s main sanctuary, at one point attracted 1.3 million viewers in 156 countries.
Church leaders said the telecast and Sunday services will continue while in bankruptcy.
Now, the church is avoiding credit entirely and spends only the roughly $2 million it receives each month in donations and revenue.
Photo: Crystal Cathedral