Rev. Robert Schuller, a televangelist who founded the 35-acre Crystal Cathedral campus in Garden Grove, died this morning in Artesia, Calif., at age 88.
Through six decades in Orange County Schuller built a large international organization—and saw it fail, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in 2010, with debts of about $48 million.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange bid $53.6 million for the property in a bankruptcy auction—besting an estimated $50 million bid by Chapman University, as well as bids from two other groups from outside the area.
The diocese is redeveloping the site, which totaled seven buildings and about 330,000 square feet at the time of its sale. It plans the new Christ Cathedral to open in 2017 and serve as the religious and administrative center of the diocese.
Schuller began preaching locally in 1955 from a drive-in theater’s concession stand roof, moved to a building a few years later, and founded the “Hour of Power” broadcast ministry in 1970.
Schuller’s organization opened the now-iconic glass-and-steel Crystal Cathedral in 1980.
The broadcasts reached an estimated 20 million viewers in 180 countries by the 1990s and the congregation filled the 2,800-seat church. The television shows were known for celebrity guests and Schuller, who wrote more than 30 books, knew several U.S. presidents.
Schuller’s wife Arvella died in February 2014.