The Crystal Cathedral. The US Diocese of Orange, which does not have a cathedral, has made a bid for the building, which is made up of more than 10,000 panes of glass. CNS photos

ORANGE, CALIFORNIA – A US diocese has made a formal bid of US$50 (S$60.7 million) million to buy a cathedral complex, which was once the home church of a Christian TV preacher.

The Diocese of Orange announced that it has presented its bid to the Crystal Cathedral Ministries board of directors and the organisation’s counsel.

The 2,900-seat Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove opened in 1980, and was one of the nation’s first megachurches. It is made up of more than 10,000 panes of glass and served as home to a non-denominational Christian community.

The cathedral property was put up for auction earlier this year as part of the cathedral ministries’ bankruptcy proceedings.

Crystal Cathedral Ministries, founded by Rev Robert Schuller, now retired, filed for bankruptcy last October. It was facing debt amounting to more than US$50 million.
The cathedral “underscores the vitality of faith in our modern society and with our offer we will enable this beacon of faith to continue to influence others as an important place of worship”, Orange Bishop Tod D Brown said in a statement.

Orange diocese does not currently have a cathedral to serve its 1.2 million Catholics. Based on the size of its Catholic population, Orange is the 11th largest diocese in the nation. The diocese covers all of Orange County, which has a total population of 3 million.

If accepted by all parties, Bishop Brown said, purchase of the cathedral complex could be finalised by the end of the year. The diocese will have to consecrate the buildings and property for use as a Catholic cathedral and worship site.

News reports have put cost estimates for building a new cathedral for the Orange Diocese at US$100 million.

“When I first heard of their financial difficulties, I was distressed,” Bishop Brown said in his statement. “Crystal Cathedral Ministries has been a valued religious resource for many, many years in Orange County,”

The bishop added that Rev Schuller built up his ministry “from the humble roof of a drive-in snack stand, and that constant faith in God’s providence, I believe, will sustain their community through these current trials”. – CNS