ORANGE (AP) – A Crystal Cathedral splinter church launched Sunday in a rented movie theater in Orange County, with the breakaway pastor urging the congregation not to speak ill of its former house of worship.
Sheila Schuller Coleman, who abruptly announced she was forming the Hope Center of Christ at a worship service last Sunday, told the roughly 100 congregants “not to have harsh words for any other church … there are some people who would try to pit one church against one another, but we are not going to do that. Here at Hope Center, we cheer every other church,”
Coleman was senior pastor at Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, which her father, Robert Schuller, founded more than 50 years ago. Her departure surprised many, but came amid a financial crisis and personality clashes that have dogged the megachurch over the past year.
A private donor paid the $845 cost of renting the theater, where popcorn buckets served as collection plates. Schuller’s father conducted some services of the original Garden Grove Community Church (predecessor to the Crystal Cathedral) in a drive-in movie theater in Orange in 1955.
Coleman said she’s applied for the new church’s tax identification number. For the next month, she will hold services at an Anaheim hotel while a permanent location is found.
The Crystal Cathedral, which has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, sold its landmark glass-paned building to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange County last year.
The day before Coleman quit, her parents resigned from the ministry’s board after other family members were ousted.