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Crystal Cathedral joins Catholic diocese

Jan. 31, 2012 at 9:53 PM

SANTA ANA, Calif., Jan. 31 (UPI) -- The Crystal Cathedral, a Southern California landmark, will be sold to Orange County's Catholic diocese, a federal bankruptcy judge ruled Tuesday.

The architectural treasure in Garden Grove, designed by architect Philip Johnson and built in 1981, will be sold for $57.5 million to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange County within several days, The Orange County Register reported.

A last-minute attempt by the now-bankrupt Crystal Cathedral Ministries to stop the sale of the church and popular tourist site ended Monday.

Senior Pastor Sheila Schuller Coleman, daughter of founding pastor Robert H. Schuller, testified the congregation paid $99 for a 99-year lease on the property in 1987, but attorneys for the ministry were unable to locate any record of the lease.

Testimony in court centered on why the church's congregation board was not encouraged by the ministry board to bid on the property. Board member Jim Penner said each group operated independently of each other, and added "I think I did my job as a Crystal Cathedral Consistory member poorly."

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Kwan ordered the sale to proceed. The diocese will allow the congregation to use the space for three more years.

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