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Crystal Cathedral is laying off 50 workers, selling surplus property

The Garden Grove megachurch cancels its 'Glory of Easter' pageant and may pull its 'Hour of Power' television show in up to eight markets because of a 27% drop in contributions.

January 30, 2010|By Margot Roosevelt

The Crystal Cathedral, the Garden Grove megachurch, is laying off 50 workers, selling surplus property and may pull its "Hour of Power" television show in up to eight markets because of a precipitous drop in contributions.

The 7,000-member church also has canceled its "Glory of Easter" pageant, a popular reenactment of the life and death of Jesus Christ, which sold tens of thousands of tickets each year. "This cuts to the heart of our ministry," said spokesman John Charles. "It is sad news."

Charles said the church's revenue sank 27% from roughly $30 million in 2008 to $22 million in 2009. Anticipating a drop in 2010 revenue, he added, "If it maintains, that would be fine, but we don't have a crystal ball, so we are cutting."

The church, founded by the Rev. Robert H. Schuller more than 50 years ago, lost members in the wake of a family feud after he retired. His son, the Rev. Robert A. Schuller, succeeded his father, but stepped down in 2008 after disagreements. His sister, is now the church's leader.

Charles said the church surveyed its members last fall to see if the dispute had caused a drop in contributions. "We found out it had no effect. It is the economy. We have a lot of older, retired people," he said.

The property the church has put up for sale is a 170-acre retreat in south Orange County known as Rancho Capistrano.

margot.roosevelt @latimes.com

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