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Robert H. Schuller disputed allegations in a lawsuit Crystal Cathedral’s creditors’ committee filed on Friday, insisting that the ministry’s executive board has acted in “good faith” in seeking the megachurch’s best interests.
The overarching allegation: the family and other insiders got large salaries and benefit packages, including housing allowances, even while the church was struggling with financial matters for nearly a decade.
"R.H. Schuller used his control and influence to cause the (cathedral) to enter into the agreements that benefitted himself and his family, to the detriment of the creditors and in breach of his fiduciary duties to the (church)," the suit states, according to a report in the Orange County Register.
The complaint also alleges that Crystal Cathedral Ministries borrowed more than $10 million between 2002 and 2009 from endowment funds. Those funds were earmarked for specific projects, the suit claims, and were used instead for church expenses and salaries.
"Whatever actions were undertaken by the Board of Directors of the Crystal Cathedral Ministries also were undertaken in good faith, with the best interests of Crystal Cathedral Ministries in mind, and upon the advice of the ministry's legal and other professional advisors," he stated.
"This lawsuit makes serious and untrue allegations regarding myself and my family,” he continued. "It is unfortunate that I will have to defend this lawsuit only to prove what is true."
The lawsuit calls for Schuller and his family to get paid last. Unsecured creditors are owed more than $7.5 million. The family wants to be paid at the same time.
Crystal Cathedral filed for bankruptcy protection last October, claiming it owed more than $50 million to creditors and vendors. The California church was believing God for a $50 million fundraising miracle, but has fallen short of that goal.
The Roman Catholic diocese of Orange County is now leading all bidders at $53.6 million and Chapman University has upped its offer to $50 million. The creditors will still allow Crystal Cathedral to choose the buyer, as long as the bid totals $50 million or more. Hobby Lobby has also bid $47.5 million.