Saturday, November 3, 2012

Schuller vs. Crystal Cathedral

Schuller and his wife, Arvella, seek more than $5 million.  Meanwhile, the outcome of the trial will have an impact on creditors who have been waiting to be paid since the Crystal Cathedral Ministries filed for bankruptcy in 2010.

"We're just hoping that it's soon over, so we can just move on," said John Charles, chief executive officer of the Crystal Cathedral Ministries.  "It's been painful for both sides."

Carol Schuller Milner, a Schuller daughter who along with her husband, Tim, also has claims in the trial scheduled in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, said: "This is really grieving us.  We don't pursue conflict.  We believe in reconciliation."

The elder Schullers filed a number of claims for breach of contract and copyright infringements.  The largest claim seeks damages for the rejection of an agreement between them and the ministry written prior to Rev. Schuller leaving his post as senior pastor in 2005.

In that agreement, the church agreed to provide for Robert H. and Arvella Schuller until their deaths.  It included payments of $119,000 per year in housing allowance, $20,065 for insurance annually and $198,000 per year to Schuller's corporation, Robert Harold, Inc.  Both Schullers are in their 80s.

Starting in late 2008, as the ministry faced an economic downturn and a decline in donations, the Schullers were paid less.  When the ministry filed for bankruptcy, all payments stopped.  And in the reorganization plan, the agreement with the Schullers was rejected.

Payments also stopped to Carol and Tim Milner.  She was employed for $10,000 monthly to do work related to her father's intellectual property.  He worked as an independent contractor on various services, including fundraising and arranging the reverend's speaking engagements.  Their claims total approximately $189,000, according to court documents.

The elder Schullers have been criticized for using their power and influence over the years to give themselves and their children generous salaries, housing allowances and other benefits, even after the church began to struggle financially.

Carol Milner disputes the idea that her parents and siblings are wealthy or took advantage of the church.

"People have said the big, bad Schullers took all this money, but in reality we were running a $60 million organization.  And we gave it our all," she said.

"My parents did not become wealthy as the result of the church," Milner said.

[from the Orange County Register]

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