The Rev. Robert H. Schuller, who built the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove as the embodiment of an upbeat, modern vision of Christianity, only to see his ministry shattered by family discord and financial ruin, has died. He was 88.
Schuller, who was diagnosed with esophageal cancer in 2013, died Thursday morning at a skilled nursing facility in Artesia, his daughter Carol Milner said.
After a working life of great success and influence, Schuller was forced to watch from retirement as much of what he built was laid to waste. In October 2010, his church, then led by his daughter, Sheila Schuller Coleman, declared bankruptcy. That led to the sale of the cathedral and surrounding property to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange in February 2012.
Changing tastes, financial overreach and squabbling over a successor were factors in the collapse. Schuller had turned over his pulpit first to his son, Robert A. Schuller, and then to Coleman. In March 2010, he and his wife, Arvella, formally cut ties to the ministry they had founded, bemoaning the “negative and adversarial atmosphere” enveloping the church’s leadership.
ad been one of the greatest success stories of postwar American Christianity.