Crystal Cathedral
The Crystal Cathedral is a Protestant Christian Church in the city of Garden Grove, in Orange County, California, United States. The prominent architect Philip Johnson designed the main sanctuary building, which was constructed using over 10,000 rectangular panes of glass and its sanctuary seats 2,736 people. The rectangular panes of glass are not bolted to the structure; instead they are glued to it using a silicone-based glue. This and other measures are intended to allow the building to withstand an earthquake of magnitude 8.0. The name "Crystal Cathedral" is merely an alliterative colloquialism and does not mean that the church is a cathedral in the sense of being a church where there is a bishop's official seat; the Reformed Church in America is governed by elders. Nor is the church made of crystal. The church is a Southern California architectural landmark. On October 18, 2010, the board of the Crystal Cathedral filed for bankruptcy in Santa Ana, California.

Founding and construction
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. The first church services were held in space rented from the Orange Drive-In Theatre. In 1961, the congregation moved to a new sanctuary designed by architect Richard Neutra. In 1968, The Tower of Hope was completed, providing office and classroom space. Continued growth led to the need for a new facility. Schuller envisioned a unique facility with walls made of glass. Noted architect Philip Johnson was commissioned by Schuller to put his dream into reality. Construction on the Crystal Cathedral began in 1977 and was completed in 1980, built at a cost of $18 million. Upon moving from the old Neutra sanctuary to the new Johnson sanctuary, the congregation changed its name to the Crystal Cathedral. In 1990 the Prayer Spire was completed. The Family Life Center was also added in 1990 and in 2003, the church campus was completed with the opening of the Richard Meier-designed Welcoming Center. The campus is noted as a Southern California landmark.

On January 22, 2006, the church's founder, Robert H. Schuller, retired as the senior pastor of the Crystal Cathedral. His son, Robert A. Schuller, was installed as the second senior pastor of the church and head of the Hour of Power TV program. On October 25, 2008, Robert H. Schuller announced the removal of his son from the Hour of Power broadcast, citing "a lack of shared vision". In a prepared statement, Robert H. Schuller stated that "different ideas as to the direction and the vision for this ministry" with his son "made it necessary ... to part ways in the Hour of Power television ministry." It was subsequently announced on November 29, 2008, that Robert A. Schuller had resigned from his position as senior pastor of the Crystal Cathedral. Juan Carlos Ortiz was named as interim senior pastor while the search for a permanent replacement was conducted. Schuller also cites that "All the services will continue to be broadcast from the world-renowned Crystal Cathedral with our great tradition of the most beautiful church music in the world." Sheila Schuller Coleman is currently the senior pastor.

The Crystal Cathedral is well-known for the quality of its music program and the eclectic variety of its musical guests. Marc Riley ( orchestral composer and conductor) and Sean Groombridge (organist) lead the church's music department. In 2010, Donald Neuen resigned as choral conductor. The orchestra and choir appear weekly on " The Hour of Power" broadcast and have made a number of CD and DVD recordings. Early on December 16, 2004, 57-year old Johnnie Carl, the church's orchestra conductor, fired several bullets in his office at the church shortly before the annual The Glory of Christmas program was about to begin. The shots were fired in the vacant concourse area and no one was injured. Carl, who was beloved by the congregation, ended up committing suicide. In his 29 years as orchestra director, Carl wrote more than 3,500 arrangements in his service to the Crystal Cathedral.

The church's 273 rank, five manual pipe organ is one of the largest in the world. Constructed by Fratelli Ruffatti and based on specifications by Virgil Fox and expanded by Frederick Swann, the instrument incorporates the large Aeolian-Skinner pipe organ built in 1962 for New York's Avery Fisher Hall, and the Ruffatti organ which had been installed in the church's previous sanctuary. Swann was organist at the Crystal Cathedral between 1982”“1998.

"Hour of Power" broadcast
The Crystal Cathedral broadcasts its church services 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. The church provides facilities for those of a similar faith to congregate and offers campus services including support groups, Sunday school classes and daily Christian gatherings. The church regularly featuress the testimonies of prominent people during the Hour of Power services. Notable guests have included former USSR president Mikhail Gorbachev, former president of India A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, former Vice President Al Gore, former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft, former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, noted Catholic broadcaster Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, musician John Tesh, Christian singer Jaci Velasquez, pianist Roger Williams, flautist Sir James Galway, Christian singer Joy Williams, Backstreet Boys member and Christian singer Brian Littrell, Christian singer Natalie Grant, Christian rock band Sonicflood, singer Robert Sims, American tenor Daniel Rodriguez, musical group The Oak Ridge Boys, Christian singer Sara Groves, Irish tenor Ronan Tynan; former tennis star Michael Chang, actors Kirk Douglas, Roy Rogers, Noah Gray-Cabey, and Denzel Washington, radio talk-show host Laura Schlessinger, and MLB baseball player, Kirk Gibson.

In popular culture
  • The Crystal Cathedral is parodied in Natural Born Kissers , the final episode in the ninth season of The Simpsons . Homer is dragged nude across the roof of a similar glass church while the congregation sit aghast below, inside the sanctuary. The pastor (reminiscent of the Crystal Cathedral's former senior pastor Robert H. Schuller) exhorts his congregation to keep their eyes focused on "God's floor" during the ordeal.
  • The Crystal Cathedral was featured on the History Channel program titled, Building in the Name of God, which profiled the world's great cathedrals. It was also shown in the Life After People: The Series episode, "Wrath of God", which showed the fate of the church after 75 years without maintenance.
  • The church was featured on the MTV television series Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County during Season 1. The Reverend Robert A. Schuller is the father of a former cast member on the show, Christina. She sang a duet with her sister during the church service on the show.

2010 bankruptcy application
Beginning in 2010, creditors filed lawsuits to collect money due to them for providing goods, services and broadcasting The Hour of Power weekly TV show. A board member said that the total debt was US$55 million. The church's board filed for bankruptcy on October 18, 2010, citing US$43 million in debt including a US$36 million mortgage and US$7.5 million in other debt. Church officials said that they had been trying to negotiate payments but after several suits were filed and writs of attachment were granted the church had to declare bankruptcy.


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