/Christian Newswire/ --
The primary rift between the father and the son in the Crystal
Cathedral Garden Grove, CA, pulpit was about changes the son,
Robert Anthony Schuller, wanted to make in terms of
transparency and accountability, but were resisted by his
father Robert H. Schuller, key board members and ministry
heads of the church, says a source knowledgeable about the
church's inner circle.
"The son did not have all the freedom to do what was needed to
make the ministry rebound from a spiritual and financial
spiral downward," the source told Church Executive.
"For all outward appearances Robert A. was in charge and had
control of how the ministry was to move forward, but nothing
could be further from the truth," says the individual who saw
the early disputes play out in meetings.
The individual, who asked not to be identified, disputed an
earlier report in a Church Executive editorial that the father
gave the son "plenty of freedom" to shape the ministry.
"Robert A.'s actions were all carefully regulated to the point
of specific limitation by his father and key board members
with regard to direction, content and funding strategy," the
source says, calling the actions "deceitful tactics that were
used to relieve Robert A. from his position." The remarks was
substantiated by another source as well.
More recently, Jim Poit, executive pastor of the Crystal
Cathedral, and his wife Linda, who was director of children's
ministries there, were let go by the church in January,
following by four months the departure and later resignation
of senior pastor Robert A. Schuller, to whom Poit served as
executive pastor of the megachurch. Deb Yurk, who had been
brought on board by Poit as pastor of congregational life, was
also released from her job.
A church spokesman first said they were "layed off" but went
on to say that Poit, his wife, and Yurk "didn't fit the
vision, I guess, of the new leadership." Changes were made
last July whereby founder Robert H. Schuller retained the
chairman of the board post, and named two sons-in-law and a
third person to an "Office of the President."
As in many organizational struggles the public face is not
always the real story. In this case the source claims that
"Robert A.'s goals were very simple--install an impartial
board not paid by proceeds from the ministry, rework the Hour
of Power to attract a younger audience, try different methods
of worship to develop a more meaningful spiritual encounter,
and to have public financial transparency. This process would
install a level of accountability. As of now the leadership is
accountable to no one. The leadership behind the scenes
limited Robert A's goal advancement and ridiculed him for lack
of leadership," the source says.
The Cathedral is not, for example, a member of the Evangelical
Council for Financial Accountability, a watchdog group giving
transparency to faith-based ministries and organizations.
"The removal of Robert A. was an old fashioned coup that
backfired," says the source, and that "the leadership would be
wise to look for a way to repair their relationship with
Robert A. quickly." Behind the scene, the source says, "his
[Robert A.] siblings were promoting division."
Robert Anthony "was leading a worldwide ministry, in a crucial
transition period, with a bad economy, with his siblings
hindering key moves, while trying to be innovative to change a
ministry, that was dominated by elderly membership, to a
youthful audience," the source says.
Last May the ministry put up for sale its 170-acre property in
Rancho Capistrano that served as a retreat center, and earlier
this month the four-story office building, known as the Robert
H. Schuller Family Life Center, that houses a school and
production offices, was put up for sale for $34 million. The
church is looking for a lease-back arrangement. The church in
the past has denied that the church is headed for bankruptcy.
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