‘Glory of Christmas’ pushes California megachurch to the brink of bankrupcy

THE Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, is well known for featuring live animals at its annual “Glory of Christmas” pageants.

An up-the-duff Mary on a real, live, unpaid-for donkey was a central feature of the pageant

But, after last year’s show, the church – founded by televangelist Robert H Schuller – now finds itself deep in dung, and unable to pay its suppliers.

Administrators have sent an e-mail to businesses which provided services for the pageant, informing them that the church is having “severe financial difficulties” and can’t afford to pay them now.

A meeting between suppliers and church is set for next week.

The church is in debt to the tune of a staggering $55 million. Earlier this year it ordered major layoffs, cut the number of stations airing its “Hour of Power” broadcasts, and sold property to stay afloat.

The 10,000-member church also cancelled this year’s “Glory of Easter” pageant, which, in the past, attracted thousands of visitors.

Robert H Schuller, doing that annoying face thing which says 'Trust me, I am a televangelist'

The cathedral is doing everything it can to strengthen itself financially and is not looking at bankruptcy as an option, church spokesman John Charles said.

Kristina Oliver, who provides the live animals for the “Glory of Christmas” manger scene from her Hemet-based Oliver Livestock Co., said she has been trying to collect nearly $57,000 from the church for months.

And Juliet Noriega, who has designed costumes for the annual Christmas spectacular for 25 years, said she is owed more than $10,000. She complained:

If someone is going to put forth an effort, they should be paid.

20 responses to “‘Glory of Christmas’ pushes California megachurch to the brink of bankrupcy”

  1. barriejohn says:

    Here we go again:

    California Crystal Cathedral Christians’ Christmas Commemoration Causes Consternation!

  2. barriejohn says:

    You all need to read up on Schuller if he’s new to you – it will take your breath away!

    Schuller was born a few miles outside of Alton, Iowa to a family of Dutch ancestry. He studied at Hope College and Western Theological Seminary, from which he graduated in 1950 with a Master of Divinity degree. Upon graduating from Western Theological Seminary, he was ordained as a minister in the Reformed Church in America. He worked at the Ivanhoe Reformed Church in Riverdale, Illinois (south suburban Chicago), before moving to Garden Grove, California where, after humble beginnings, the Garden Grove Community Church was opened in 1955 in the Orange Drive-In Theater, which Schuller rented for $500. He has also since received numerous honorary doctoral degrees.

    He also purchased two acres, located about four miles from the drive-in theater and built a new 300 seat chapel. Each Sunday, Schuller conducted a service in the chapel at 9.30 in the morning and then drove his organ to the drive-in to conduct a second service there.

    As the size of both congregations grew, Schuller was able to raise enough money to purchase 10 acres in Garden Grove, just two miles from the new Disneyland. His vision was to combine both congregations into one church location, which could function as both a “walk-in, drive-in” church. Ground was broken for the new church on September 10, 1958, at 12141 Lewis Street.

    The new church was designed by the famed international architect Richard Neutra and was completed in 1961 at a cost of $3,000,000. The first dedication service was held in that new building on November 5, 1961.

    With a punch of one button, two 25-feet high glass doors slid open as Schuller mounted the pulpit to the sound of his choir singing Holy, Holy, Holy. That part of the design of the new church building enabled Schuller to preach his sermons to 1,500 worshipers in 500 cars at the same time that the indoor portion of the building was packed with additional members of his congregation. The newspaper advertisements
    described the church as a “walk-in, drive-in” church.

    More here (including pics):

  3. mikespeir says:

    Even as a Christian I didn’t trust Robert Schuller. With a face like that he couldn’t even sell used cars. Fortunately for him, the only people he has to sell are the already sold.

  4. Stuart says:

    I’ve seen this church and this guy on the “God” channels in the past and given all their pomp and splendour, I’m not surprised they’ve gone bust.

  5. Har Davids says:

    Just imagine: these people worship the son of god, who never went for the bling. There must be something very wrong with them.

  6. Broadsword Calling Danny Boy says:

    So this entertainment business owes $55,000,000?
    Seems the creditors are being extremely lenient. Maybe they think they’re still trading with a church instead of the business it is. While they politely wait it’ll go bust and they won’t see a dime.

    In my experience it is better to withdraw your services earlier rather than later, then chase them for payment. You’ve more chance of seeing your money at this stage than when it all hits the fan and your just one more in a braying bunch of creditors.

    I’ve got respect for people who come to me and explain when their firm is in difficulty. It takes a lot for someone to do this. What it means for me is that I can stop supplying and they won’t run up an even bigger debt. I’m more likely to cut them a deal and in some cases I’ve written off their debt altogether. If they’re evasive I’ll put the boot in as I suspect the Golden Grove creditors will do once they stop praying and get their business brains into gear. There has to be some hardmindedness there as they’ve all had the gumption to make a go of it for themselves.

    Lastly, this “church” has 10,000 members. They could bail themselves out if each put up $5’500. If a member can’t afford that then I’m sure they could get a loan. Robert H Schuller would be ever so grateful.

  7. Angela_K says:

    Let’s hope this guy is forced into bankruptcy. I feel sorry for the creditors, unless they are christians in which case serves them right.

  8. barriejohn says:

    I agree with your comments, Broadsword. This is a business, and how on earth do you get into debt to the tune of $55 million without someone noticing? What has the financial director been doing? I did the self-same calculation as you and came to the same conclusion. If they really do have that many members, who have all been benefiting from the services of the church, then it shouldn’t be beyond them to start whittling away at this deficit. Some, surely, would be in a position to give a much larger amount. After all, if this is the Lord’s work, then it is the most important thing on earth!

  9. Broga says:

    Schuller seems to have been enjoying lots of lovely wine in local restaurants billed to his church. These guys do not hold back on looking after themselves. Bit like Mother Theresa preaching an ascetic lifestyle but flying first class. The Schuller Face – perfect, like a skull with that rictus of a grin.

  10. Broadsword Calling Danny Boy says:


    “The Schuller Face – perfect, like a skull with that rictus of a grin”

    I hadn’t noticed until you mentioned. That face would make a cracking stag night mask for the boys.

  11. barriejohn says:

    He looks like The Joker to me!

  12. AngieRS says:

    Another one bites the dust (fingers crossed).

  13. Broadsword Calling Danny Boy says:

    Does anyone remember this one? A cracking song knocking televangelists.

  14. The Val says:

    This is amusing. When I was a kid and Schuller was in his glory, seemingly on every tv channel on sunday, I used to think he was god. He had that white hair and the white clothes. For a kid that didn’t know anything about religion, that’s what I thought. I was never interested in what he said so I changed the channel to watch Sesame Street instead.

  15. NeoWolfe says:

    How big of a turd do you have to be in order to fail to turn a profit on a religion????

    Schuller’s ridiculous robes remind me of John McCain’s visit to Jerry Falwell’s scam show. After McCain ragged on the religious right, calling them the “voice of intolerance”, and decried the repeal of abortion law, but, as soon as he decided to run for president he appears on Falwell’s show wearing a “pope” costume and declares his administration would be “pro-life”. I actually used to like the guy, but trust me, that’s over.

    Bjohn and Broadsword, his face looks more, to me, like one sewn on by a mortician.


  16. barriejohn says:

    You mean this, NeoWolfe?

    Those of a nervous disposition, or those consuming food or drink, are strongly advised to give this clip a miss, especially as it features film of the fat freak, Falwell, himself. (Liberty University indeed!)

  17. barriejohn says:

    What do you know, they’ve even got vids of Schuller! No wonder his church is bankrupt, because he has no gift for oratory whatsoever. I noticed that he was using a lot of “soundbites”, and then, lo and behold, he tells us that that great intellectual, thinker and visionary, Norman Vincent Peale (“nice things happen to people with nice thoughts”) was a member of his denomination. I rest my case!!

  18. NeoWolfe says:


    Schuller mentions his origen, a little country church in Ireland, but I am left wondering how many times he got buttfucked there?

    Anyway, bjohn and broadsword, I am a pottymouthed heathen, but you guys have made me feel welcome. Thank you.


  19. Heather Flight says:

    This year’s nativity won’t pack quite the same punch with Mary on a rocking horse!

  20. Broadsword says:


    I was lucky to have been born a heathen and never got the chance to piss on the vicar as he poured cold water on my head.