GARDEN GROVE, California (AP) –– Sheila Schuller Coleman was affirmed as lead pastor at the Crystal Cathedral megachurch, replacing her father Robert H. Schuller.
Sheila Schuller Coleman has played a leading role at the Southern California church during the past year. Her official appointment as lead pastor was announced Sunday at a morning service.
Her 83-year-old father, who has been in the pulpit for 55 years and serves as host of the long-running “Hour of Power” TV show, will not be leaving the church.
He will assume the newly created position of chairman of the church board of directors, known as its consistory, said church spokesman Jim Coleman, who is Sheila Schuller Coleman’s husband.
“Organizationally nothing changed,” Jim Coleman said.
Sheila Schuller Coleman said in a statement Monday that her father will keep delivering his message of “possibility thinking” at least once a month and has not retired.
She takes over a church that has been plagued with debt problems and where future leadership has been unclear.
Coleman, 59, previously served as principal of a private Christian school run by the cathedral and head of the family ministries division at the Orange County church.
Her father congratulated her during the Sunday service.
“I’m very proud of her,” he said.
The move came two years after Schuller’s son, the Rev. Robert A. Schuller, split from the church during a public family rift. The younger Schuller had been groomed to take over for his father.
Robert A. Schuller is now part of Dallas-based American Life Network, a cable channel aiming to produce family oriented programming.
Sheila Schuller Coleman said being named lead pastor was an emotional event.
“I’m humbled and honored to be asked to take this responsibility,” she said Sunday, wiping away tears as she addressed her congregation. “I truly know that God is here, he loves this ministry and my call is to help take the ministry into the future and to continue dad’s ministry.”
The 10,000-member church faces significant challenges.
Earlier this year, the church said revenue dropped 27 percent from roughly $30 million in 2008 to $22 million in 2009.
Church leaders blamed the decline on the struggling U.S. economy. They sold 170 acres (70 hectares) in southern Orange County, laid off employees and cut “Hour of Power” from eight of the 45 domestic broadcast TV stations that air it.
The church also canceled this year’s “Glory of Easter” pageant, which attracts thousands of visitors and is a regional holiday staple along with the church’s “Glory of Christmas” show.
Crystal Cathedral also faces legal action from more than 100 vendors who are owed millions of dollars for their work on pageants and other projects.