Posted by: L. E. Barnes | November 5, 2011

You’ve Gotta Be Kidding

What’s the world coming to when a millionaire preacher has to ask his congregation to send meals (which will be picked up by limos!) to his sick wife? You just can’t make up stuff like this:

Crystal Cathedral congregants say they are upset by an email that asks they drop off meals for Arvella Schuller so it can be picked up by limo drivers.


GARDEN GROVE – An email sent out to members of the Crystal Cathedral congregation requesting meals for founder Robert H. Schuller’s wife Arvella, who is ill with pneumonia, is creating mixed feelings of sadness and outrage among members.

According to longtime member Jim McDonald, an email was sent out by administrators to Bible study groups as well as church elders, asking that meals for the reverend’s wife be dropped off at the cathedral’s Tower of Hope where the Schullers’ limo drivers will be waiting to pick them up at the designated time.

Member Bob Canfield says he was outraged when he got the message.

“These are millionaires who have limos and chauffeurs,” he said. “Why in God’s name would they want the congregants to deliver meals? It’s ludicrous.”

The email states that the Schullers do not want get-well cards sent because they would like to “keep her situation under the radar.”

“However, they would appreciate meals over the next three to four weeks,” the email states. “They are to be sent to the church in order to be transported to Arvella. The limo drivers could pick up the dinners or meet in the Tower Lobby around 4:30 p.m.”

The message also requests that the meals be low in sodium and include items such as fruit, meats, soup and egg dishes such as quiches.

Cathedral spokesman John Charles said the request for meals was simply an effort to rally around the Schullers, who are both in their 80s.

“We didn’t want people going to their home because they are very private people,” he said. “That’s why we asked that the food be dropped off at the tower so the limo drivers can pick them up and deliver them.”

Charles said congregants have rallied around other members in the past when they have become ill.

“As Dr. Schuller always says, ‘Find a need and fill it,'” he said. “I think that’s what we were trying to do here.”

But some church members viewed the request differently.

Canfield said he and other members of the congregation are upset the request came at a time when their church is in bankruptcy and information coming out through court documents has suggested that the Schullers took nearly $10 million from the church’s endowment funds.

“They’ve completely depleted the church’s funds,” he said. “But they have shown that they have absolutely no remorse for what they’ve done. They’re still being chauffeured around in limos. We, the congregants, have nothing.”

Crystal Cathedral Ministries filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Oct. 18. A judge is expected to approve a sale plan on Nov. 14. Both the cathedral’s board and the creditors committee have named Chapman University as their preferred buyer. Chapman’s offer stands at $51.5 million. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange has offered $53.6 million. However, the Chapman plan will allow the Schullers to remain and continue their ministry with a leaseback and buyback arrangement.

Canfield said the request for meals seems ironic in the context of reports over the last year that the Schullers drew generous salaries and benefits in the years leading up the bankruptcy, even as the ministry struggled.

Shirley Zink, who served as a greeter at the Crystal Cathedral for 35 years, said she was saddened to receive the message about the meals for Arvella.

“You have to wonder if it is lonely at the top, if the Schullers don’t have the support of the many family members who live in the area,” she said.

For as long as she has known them, the Schullers have been distant from the congregation, Zink said. After 35 years, she said she resigned from being a volunteer although she still continues to go to Bible study.

“I’m looking for another church,” she said. “But like many others, I leave heartbroken, mourning the loss of what once was.”



  1. If the Schullers can afford a limo, they can afford a full time cook to take care of this lady’s needs.

    • Definitely. Sounds like those folks have become very spoiled.

  2. While trying not to judge, I have to say there is something about the Catholic church’s system of assigning pastors and pastoral salaries that avoids this building temples to someone other than God.

    • I agree. It appears to me that too many evangelical churches have become far too personality-driven, and a number of well-known ministers have become wealthy and seem to have developed an entitlement mentality. While I’m not going to argue that Protestant clergy should take vows of poverty and chastity like Catholic priests, I’ll admit that it always tended to bother me to see ministers becoming millionaires. But that’s just my humble opinion…

  3. When I first the title (asking for meals) I thought that things are tough so we need help, and I guess that’s Ok.

    The limo part was the WTF?! moment, talk about being totally disconnected from reality. Those big churches with ‘pastors’ with Gulfstream jets need to be looked at, especially by the IRS.

    • I hope that Schuller is not guilty of any financial scandal, but I agree that he deserves a good “spanking” for this (or at least a reality check!).

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