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Schuller ousts son from show

October 26, 2008|Sam Quinones | Quinones is a Times staff writer.

The Rev. Robert H. Schuller removed his son Saturday as preacher on the syndicated "Hour of Power" television show less than three years after handing over to him the ministry he began more than 50 years ago.

Schuller announced the removal of his son, Robert A. Schuller, in a statement read to some 450 Crystal Cathedral congregants by Jim Coleman, the church's president.

"It is no secret to any of you that my son, Robert, and I have been struggling as we each have different ideas as to the direction and the vision for this ministry," his statement read.

"For this lack of shared vision and the jeopardy in which this is placing this entire ministry, it has become necessary for Robert and me to part ways."

Schuller said he was bringing in several guest pastors from around the country to preach during the show, which has been cut to half an hour in some markets since summer.

The decision marks a surprising reversal of the emotional moment when Schuller turned over the church ministries and the television program to his son during services at the Crystal Cathedral in January 2006. The two men hugged and the elder Schuller fought tears as he addressed his congregants.

At the time, though, he made it clear: "I am not retiring."

Robert A. Schuller's major challenge was attracting younger congregants and using the television program to build membership. It is unclear whether he achieved that.

He will remain as senior pastor of the Crystal Cathedral, a spokesman said, though there was no word on whether he will continue to preach.

Despite the wording of the statement, it remained vague Saturday what prompted the schism between the father and son who have been the face of "Hour of Power," which is syndicated worldwide.

"I wish I had an answer for you. I just don't know," said John Charles, a church spokesman. "I tried to get that question answered today and there's really no answer. The two principals would have to explain that, and they're not."

In the statement, Schuller said he will continue to be the host of a weekly church service and preach occasionally.

But "no longer will the 'Hour of Power' be the voice and face of just one or two individuals," he wrote, adding that the show would now "serve as a platform for the greatest preachers in the world."

Robert A. Schuller, known to congregants as Robert II, had been groomed to take over for his father since 1996.

He had followed in his father's footsteps almost exactly, attending the same college, Hope College in Holland, Mich. He also founded his own Orange County church, in San Juan Capistrano, before coming to the Crystal Cathedral seven years ago.

Like his father, he also writes religious books -- 13 at last count, according to the church's website. In recent months, however, the younger Schuller had disappeared from the television program, replaced by reruns featuring his father.

In chats on the church's website, participants wondered what happened to the younger Schuller.

"Has he been on a missionary trip or something?" one chatter wrote.

"Enough already. Where is RAS?" wrote another. "All administrators and pastors -- please be open with your church members."

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sam.quinones@latimes.com

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