Crystal Cathedral Ministries, the Southern California megachurch founded by television evangelist Robert Schuller, filed for bankruptcy court protection from its creditors, which are owed as much as $100 million.
The church, known for its television show “The Hour of Power,” listed assets and debts of $50 million to $100 million each in Chapter 11 documents filed yesterday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Santa Ana, California. The church, based in Garden Grove, claims a congregation of 10,000 members.
“Budgets could not be cut fast enough to keep up with the unprecedented rapid decline in revenue due to the recession,” Senior Pastor Sheila Schuller Coleman said in a statement.
U.S. churches are struggling financially because high unemployment has cut weekly offerings, said Wayne Bradshaw, president and chief operating officer of Broadway Federal Bank. The Los Angeles-based lender does about 25 percent of its lending business with churches.
Broadway, which has about $510 million in assets, has made about $100 million in loans to churches, Bradshaw said. The church-related loans have a higher rate of late payments than Broadway’s other loans, Bradshaw said.
“We’re seeing more late payments,” Bradshaw said in a phone interview. “There certainly has been increasing delinquencies.”
Crystal Cathedral spokesman John Charles said in an interview the church’s revenue has fallen about 40 percent this year. From 2008 to 2009 revenue fell from about $30 million to about $22 million, he said.
Dr. Schuller, who recently turned 84, is still around and serves as the chairman of the board of directors of Crystal Cathedral Ministries. The church’s current senior pastor, Sheila Schuller Coleman, is Robert Schuller’s eldest daughter.
Ironically, Robert Schuller was co-author of a 1984 book entitled Living Debt Free which was written by Schuller and Paul Dunn, the husband of Schuller’s daughter Jeanne.