What began as a messy divorce between father and son, debt at Crystal Cathedral causing the lights to get cut off and then Dad thinking his son can do his own power thing and Girl Schuller can do it, has now led to this:
Dad is “retiring”. Or is he?
Mr. Schuller, 83, told his congregation that his daughter, Sheila Schuller Coleman, will become the lead pastor, after sharing that role with him for the last year.
So, basically this is code for “My ministry is in the toilet, ratings are bad and I’m no longer relevant so… here you go baby girl, enjoy keeping the lights on.”
And yes, note there is no word from Junior Schuller in this article who is still channel surfing at the American Life Network. (Anyone? Anything? Yeah, me neither. Heck, DISH network hasn’t even heard of it. Good on ya’, bubba.)
Back to the story.
After this story traveled like a debt collectors calls throughout the indebted Crystal Cathedral across the ecumenical media, Girl Schuller decided to put the kibosh on this kerfuffle with her own release to the Los Angeles Times:
Crystal Cathedral’s senior pastor Sheila Coleman expressed outrage in an interview Sunday after rumors spread across the media and Internet that her father, famed televangelist Robert H. Schuller, was stepping down. “Dad is not retiring,” she said. “I told [the congregation] that Dad’s role would not be changing and mine would not be changing.”
Doh! Now what? Granted, this was the first megachurch, the trendsetter. And Elder Schuller, while not so much in the Dear Ol’ Dad department is iconic in the church world. But why stay at 83? Keep him in charge of the fledgling ministry for what reason again?
“It’s irresponsible journalism that nobody asked me to clarify,” Coleman said. “It’s troubling because we have a lot of viewers all over the world thinking: ‘My pastor’s leaving.'”
Sure you do… if you mean, one person in New Guinea, a family of four in Madagascar and a clan of vagabonds who traveled to the church to hear him in speak back in 1984 that live in Duluth, Minnesota… then, yes, all over the world. (Wink. Wink.)
Because, last I heard, you were $65 million in debt and fighting off law suits from creditors like attendants at the World Cup fighting off going to the ENT doctor. (Those Vuvuzelas will be the cause of at least 18 people going deaf this year alone. Oy!)
But meh? There could be many reasons for the drop off in ratings, viewers and donations, right?
According to the story, church officials blame some of their troubles on an aging congregation and sluggish economy. They insist that a survey of members showed that the departure of the younger Schuller had no effect on their offering.
Uh, yeah. Is that so? Let’s ask your famed pianist, Roger Williams (from the Orange County Register):
“His children had no history of success making it on their own… Bob and Arvella (Schuller) went through tough times and built this church one brick at a time. To me, it’s those tough times you had to endure by yourself that make you great. Bob did not give that privilege to his children.”
Williams, who has recorded 21 gold and platinum albums, quit his pianist post last fall after 35 years, saying he had grown weary of “church confrontations” and “bitter family fights.”
“I had a hard time dealing with the (Schuller) kids,” Williams said in June. “All I wanted to do was play the piano. When people with no experience tell me how to play the piano – I just couldn’t deal with it.”
But yes, the economy should have some blame in there too.
Coleman, 59, said Sunday that the church’s economic situation had improved significantly in recent months and that she was determined to restore solid financial footing to the church her father built.
“My role is to help him finish strong and hold him up so he can preach till the day he dies,” she said.
If he can’t make up his mind about retiring and not trusting you to keep the lights on, madame, that may come sooner than you think. (Somewhere, Junior Schuller is yukking it up and calling Dish Network about getting listed.)