Crystal Cathedral Keeps Exclusive Control of Reorganization

Creditors of Crystal Cathedral Ministries can’t propose a competing plan to reorganize and sell the Southern California megachurch built by television evangelist Robert Schuller, a judge said.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Kwan, in Santa Ana, California, today agreed to extend the church’s exclusive right to propose and solicit support for a bankruptcy-exit plan that would auction off the Crystal Cathedral campus in Orange County, an architectural icon in Southern California recognized by the National Register of Historic Places.

Church officials have proposed selling part, or all, of the 30-acre campus and then leasing it back, allowing services to continue in the Cathedral, a glass-enclosed building designed to double as a television studio to broadcast Sunday worship services.

Creditors and church officials will probably fight in court if a buyer wants to push the ministry off the campus, Marc Winthrop, an attorney for Crystal Cathedral told Kwan during a court hearing today.

“We may be back arguing vociferously over which proposal to approve,” Winthrop said. “Our goal is to have the ministry continue.”

‘Hour of Power’

The church, known for its television show “The Hour of Power,” listed assets and debts of $50 million to $100 million each in Chapter 11 documents filed in October in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Santa Ana. The church, based in Garden Grove, claims a congregation of 10,000 members.

Crystal Cathedral filed a plan last week that would use cash from the proposed $46 million sale to repay a bank loan of about $33.3 million in full and pay lower-ranking creditors over two years.

A committee for the lower-ranking creditors wanted to file a competing plan that would give it more say over how the church should be reorganized, their attorney Nanette D. Sanders said in court.

The case is In re: Crystal Cathedral Ministries, 10-24771, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Central District of California (Santa Ana).

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