Rev. Robert H. Schuller Voted Off Crystal Cathedral Board

July 3, 2011,  |,   9:42 pm
LA Times

The Rev. Robert H. Schuller has been ousted from the board of directors at the Crystal Cathedral, the Orange County megachurch he built into a televised empire after getting his start preaching from the roof of a drive-in theater, his son said Sunday night.

Schuller, 84, stepped down from the pulpit five years ago and had long before ceded day-to-day control of the Garden Grove ministry, largely to his children and other relatives.

There were conflicting reports about what had taken place between Schuller and the board members. But Robert Anthony Schuller said his father was ousted because he had proposed adding new members to the board, which he described as blighted by conflicts of interest.

“My father wanted to add board members, and they didn’t want that because they would lose control,” said the younger Schuller, who was himself voted off the board three years ago. “They kicked him off. … I feel bad for him because he’s had to watch his life’s work go down the toilet the last three years.”

The elder Schuller, who had been a non-voting but influential member of the board with the title chairman emeritus, could not be reached for comment.

Jim Coleman, president of Crystal Cathedral and the husband of Robert H. Schuller’s daughter, declined to comment when reached by telephone Sunday night. His wife, Sheila Schuller Coleman, took control of the church more than two years ago, marking a family schism that has dogged the ministry, culminating in its bankruptcy.

Several longtime church members and officials said Sunday that they found Robert H. Schuller’s departure from the board startling — and an unsettling reminder that the church’s leadership and finances are in chaos.

“It’s an unusual thing,” said Jim Case, a former board member who also confirmed Schuller’s ouster. “It surprises me.” He said the board’s decision was part of an ongoing “power grab.”

Dory Bauler, 82, of Laguna Woods, has been a church member since 1972. She called the news of Schuller’s departure, “the most heartbreaking thing in the world.”

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