The Associated Press reports that the Diocese of Orange, which renamed the church Christ Cathedral earlier this month, plans to turn the location into its spiritual and administrative headquarters. The growing diocese of 1.2 million people diocese bought the church campus, including its cemetery, for nearly $58 million last year.
Reverend Robert Schuller founded the original congregation on the site, and it was from there the famous “Hour of Power” televangelist program was broadcast. Many have questions about the fate of Schuller’s ministry once it leaves behind the iconic building. The diocese will grant the congregation six months rent-free at a nearby Catholic church and plans are to continue filming the “Hour of Power.”
“We could film in a studio,” John Charles, the new CEO of Crystal Cathedral Ministries, told the AP. “We’re still going to have the same great preaching, the same great music and pulpit guests. The ministry is not about the building — it’s more about our congregation and who we are.”
Schuller, now 85, does not appear on the program and has reportedly not attended at the Crystal Cathedral since last year. At its zenith, the “Hour of Power” attracted 20 million viewers worldwide.
Catholic.org reported that some longtime congregants of Schuller’s ministry reacted negatively to the sale. The children of one donor even threatened to remove their father from its cemetery.
Rev. Christopher Smith, the Catholic episcopal vicar and rector of the newly minted Christ Cathedral, however, hopes that the transition will build goodwill.
“I just hope that we attend well to all the different people who are affected by this and also that this place be seen as a place where everyone is welcome to find hope and consolation and inspiration, whether they’re Catholic or not,” Smith told the AP.
The Crystal Cathedral, has 10,000 windows and room for nearly 3,000 worshipers and 1,000 musicians. It was built in 1980.