Oct 19, 2010

 
 

GARDEN GROVE, Calif. — 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 Monday outside the worship hall.

"Everybody is hurting today. We are no exception," she said.

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. In addition, the 10,000-member church canceled this year's "Glory of Easter" pageant, which attracts thousands of visitors and is a regional holiday staple.

Vendors owed money by the church formed a committee in April and agreed to a moratorium to negotiate a repayment plan with the Crystal Cathedral.

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