Robert Schuller dead: Popular 'Hour of Power' preacher dies aged 88

The founder of California's Crystal Cathedral megachurch was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in 2013

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The popular US preacher Robert Schuller, whose weekly Hour of Power services once attracted over a million TV viewers in more than 150 countries, has died in California aged 88. The founder of the Crystal Cathedral megachurch in Orange County was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in 2013 and had declined treatment since the death of his wife, Arvella, in February 2014.

Schuller’s daughter-in-law Donna Schuller told the Orange County Register it was fitting for him to have passed away in the days leading up to Easter. “He always did everything in a grand fashion,” she said. “It’s just like him.”

Born in 1926, in an Iowa farmhouse with no electricity or running water, Schuller went on to become one of the most significant Christian leaders in post-war America. He established the Crystal Cathedral Ministries in Southern California in 1955, where he hosted drive-in style public services offering a friendly, contemporary Christian perspective.

In 1970, Schuller began to air his Sunday services on television. Today, the weekly Hour of Power is hosted by his grandson, Bobby. The programme made famous not only Schuller, but also the “Crystal Cathedral” from which it was broadcast: the preacher’s 3,000-seat church, completed in 1980 at a cost of $20m (£13.5m). The cathedral, which sits at the heart of a 40-acre church campus, has a transparent ceiling and walls, and was constructed using 10,000 panes of glass.

Schuller famously combined Christian teachings with a modern, self-help message that emphasised positive thinking, and he wrote multiple books on that theme, such as Life’s Not Fair But God is Good and Turning Hurts Into Halos.

 

Lately, however, Crystal Cathedral Ministries had fallen on hard times. In 2010 Schuller and his wife resigned from the board after the church – then led by his daughter, Sheila Schuller Coleman – filed for bankruptcy with debts of more than $40m. Schuller complained of a “negative and adversarial atmosphere” as his family reportedly fought amongst themselves. In 2012, the cathedral and surrounding grounds were sold to the Orange County Roman Catholic diocese for $57.5m.

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