Rev. Robert H. Schuller, Founder Crystal Cathedral, Passes Away

By Michael Ireland, Senior Reporter, ASSIST News Service

LOS ANGELES, CA (ANS, April 2, 2015) — The Rev. Robert H. Schuller, California televangelist and founder of the television ministry the “Hour of Power,” died today, according to his family. He was 88 years old.

robert h. schullerSchuller, also the founder of Crystal Cathedral mega-church, had been diagnosed with esophageal cancer in August 2013, a release from “Hour of Power” said.

According to Wikipedia, Robert Harold Schuller (September 16, 1926 – April 2, 2015) was an American televangelist, pastor, motivational speaker, and author. He was principally known for the weekly Hour of Power television program, which he founded in 1970 and hosted until 2010. He was also the founder of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, where the Hour of Power program was previously broadcast.

Wikipedia states that Robert Harold Schuller was born near Alton, Iowa, on September 16, 1926, to Jennie (née Beltman) and Anthony Schuller. The youngest of four children, Schuller was of Dutch descent and was raised on a parents’ farm nearby in a small-knit community of Dutch-Americans. In 1931, just weeks before his 5th birthday, a visiting uncle, who was a minister, told him to be an evangelist. Schuller called it the “single most defining moment of my early life.” After graduating from Newkirk High School in Newkirk, Iowa, in 1944, Schuller studied at Hope College and received a Master of Divinity degree from Western Theological Seminary, which follows the theological tradition and Christian practice of John Calvin, in 1950.

Robert A. Schuller with his father Robert H. Schuller outside the Crystal CathedralHe was ordained as a minister in the Reformed Church in America. He worked at Ivanhoe Reformed Church in Riverdale, Illinois, before moving to Garden Grove, California. There he opened the Garden Grove Community Church in 1955 in a drive-in movie theater. He also rented a 300-seat former Baptist church about four miles (6 km) from the drive-in theater. Schuller presided at a service in the chapel at 9:30 on Sunday mornings and then drove his organ to the drive-in to preside at another service.

Wikipedia says that as the size of the congregations grew, Schuller purchased 10 acres (40,000 m2) at 12141 Lewis Street in Garden Grove for a “walk-in, drive-in” church serving both congregations. Ground was broken September 10, 1958, for construction of the new church designed by international architect Richard Neutra. The church was completed in 1961 at a cost of $3,000,000.The dedication service was held November 5, 1961.

The design of the new church building enabled Schuller to preach his sermons to worshipers in 500 cars as well as to members of the congregation inside the church.

A “Tower of Hope” building was added on the north side of the drive-in church building in 1968; The Tower of Hope rose 13 stories (approximately 130 to 150 feet in the air, the highest structure in Orange County at that time, and was topped by a cross. The illuminated cross that stood atop the Tower of Hope was 90 feet tall. That same year, Schuller purchased the 10-acre (40,000 m2) walnut grove that bordered the north side of the Garden Grove Community Church for the construction of the much larger “Crystal Cathedral” designed by architect Philip Johnson. The church, which has glass walls and ceiling, was dedicated on September 14, 1980.

Earlier this week, Schuller was stated to be in critical condition in a Los Angeles-area nursing home and was not expected to make it through the week, family members said Tuesday (March 31, 2015).

This was revealed in a story by Deepa Bharath, staff writer for the Orange County Register ( and reported by ASSIST News Service in an article by Dan Wooding.

Wooding reported that Bharath said according to his daughter-in-law, Donna Schuller, the reverend’s condition has been deteriorating since he had an exploratory procedure in January examining his digestive tract.

Donna Schuller, a regular contributor to the ASSIST News Service (, said her father-in-law is not on life support and is breathing on his own, but is extremely weak because has not “eaten for several days.”

“He was talking normally a couple of months ago,” she said. “But since the procedure, he was whispering. And later, he could barely mouth words.”

He is asleep most of the time, but seems to be at peace, Donna Schuller said.

“He doesn’t seem to be in pain,” she said, choking up. “He’s had a wonderful life and he’ll pass gracefully.”
Donna Schuller said her husband, Dr. Robert A. Schuller, the son of Dr. Schuller, has a document detailing precisely how the older Schuller wants his memorial service to be held.

“He gave it to my husband 10 years ago,” she said. “Perfectionist that he is, I’m sure he has planned out and specified every little detail.”

Donna Schuller said passing during the holy Easter week would be a fitting exit for her father-in-law.

“He always did everything in a grand fashion,” she said. “It’s just like him.”

Dr. Robert. H. Schuller started the Garden Grove Community Church in 1955, renting the Orange Drive-In
Theatre and conducting services from a snack bar roof. As the congregation grew, the Protestant ministry began broadcasting its services through the “Hour of Power,” a syndicated TV program broadcast to millions of viewers worldwide.

Crystal CathedralIn a separate story, the OC Register said that the Crystal Cathedral was dedicated in 1980. The cathedral and the grounds were sold in early 2012 for $57.5 million in bankruptcy-court proceedings to the Catholic Diocese of Orange. The facility has been renamed Christ Cathedral.

The ministry moved to St. Callistus Catholic Church about a mile away and is now called Shepherd’s Grove. Schuller’s grandson, Bobby Schuller, is now pastoring the church and is now the host of The Hour of Power TV telecast.

Although the name of the church is Shepherd’s Grove, the congregation’s corporate name continues to be Crystal Cathedral Ministries and continues to produce the “Hour of Power” program.

Arvella Schuller, the wife of the Rev. Robert H. Schuller, who was said to be the force behind the church’s iconic “Hour of Power” television program, died in February of 2014 at the UCI Medical Center after a brief illness. She was 84.

Photo captions: 1) Robert H. Schuller preaching. 2) Son and father. Robert A. Schuller pictured with his father, Robert H. Schuller. 3) The Crystal Cathedral.

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