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Originally published October 18, 2010 at 8:09 PM | Page modified October 18, 2010 at 8:23 PM

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Schuller's Crystal Cathedral files for Chapter 11 protection

Crystal Cathedral Ministries, a Southern California landmark and megachurch founded by television evangelist Robert H. Schuller, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The Orange County Register

GARDEN GROVE, Calif. — Crystal Cathedral Ministries, a Southern California landmark and megachurch founded by television evangelist Robert H. Schuller, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Monday.

The cathedral owes about $7.5 million to unsecured creditors. The bankruptcy filing seeks court protection from its creditors.

The church lost members in the wake of a family feud after Schuller 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.

In a statement issued Monday, Senior Pastor Sheila Schuller Coleman said the bankruptcy filing was necessary because a "small number of creditors chose to file lawsuits and obtained writ of attachment."

She said the cathedral also had no choice because a committee of creditors decided not to extend a moratorium to allow continued talks about a payment plan.

The cathedral, which has been a landmark and a tourist attraction with its glistening glass tower, is now faced with $55 million in debt because of the economy and dwindling contributions.

The church's budget woes have forced it to downsize its staff, cancel "Hour of Power" programming in certain markets, and even send home choir and orchestra members.

In May, the church sold land donated by John and Donna Crean in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., for $22.5 million.

Coleman said she is optimistic the church will come out of these trying times, saying the ministry is experiencing its best cash flow in 10 years.

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