Crystal Cathedral in Financial Trouble, 'Hour of Power' Cut (PHOTOS)

crystal cathedral megachurch cash strapped

Southern California's Crystal Cathedral, faced with financial hard times, has begun the process of selling property and laying off employees according to Sheila Schuller Coleman, daughter of founder Robert H. Schuller and the current leader of the church.

After a 27 percent decline in revenue in 2009, the Protestant megachurch  has begun to make some drastic changes as a result of the debilitating cash crunch.  The weekly Hour of Power telecast will go dark in some locations across the country as part of a series of "tough decisions" made by the Crystal Cathedral's International Board of Trustees.  A 20-acre retreat in Rancho Capistrano will be shuttered -- leaving 50 people without jobs.

The church's debt is close to $55 million.  On Saturday night, Robert H. Schuller, 83, and his wife, Arvella, 80, gave an emotional speech at an elders meeting, sometimes chocking up as they emphasized their commitment to the church they built from the ground up.  He said, "2010 is a great year.  This is the 60th anniversary of my ordination.  It's the 55th anniversary of this church and the 30th anniversary of the Crystal Cathedral."

Things took a turn in October 2008 when Robert H. Schuller fired his son Robert A. Schuler for what he described as a "lack of shared vision."   At the time of his dismissal, Robert A. Schuller had been Senior Pastor or the Crystal Cathedral and was leading the Hour of Power television ministry.

UPDATE July 11, 2010 -- Reverend Robert H. Schuller announced his retirement today.

UPDATE:  October 17, 2010: The Crystal Cathedral has filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy, after struggling with debt for the past two years.  The church is estimated to be $50-$100 million in debt.  Their immediate problems involve $7.5 million owed vendors for advertising and services.  They have attempted to make repayment arrangements but many have filed lawsuits.

According to a church spokesman, Crystal Cathedral's Sunday services and weekly-telecast Hour of Power will continue for now.

View more photos below.