Before dawn on this beautiful Easter morning we traveled a few miles to the Crystal Cathedral to attend the church’s final Easter Sunrise Service at the Garden Grove location (6am). What a blessing.
As you can probably imagine there wasn’t a huge crowd. Maybe 100+ attendees. Full orchestra whose members arrived at 4:30am for rehearsals. Twenty or so populated the choir. A 15-yr-old pianist played a solo. And a high school aged soprano sang along with the orchestra. Both musicians are students at the Crystal Cathedral Academy school. Little different from the big named singers the church formerly hosted on special occasions – Roger Williams, David Foster, Josh Groban, Amy Grant, YoYo Ma. Regardless, the music was top notch.
Pastor Bobby Schuller’s message was timely, and pointed “How Does Easter Save Us Today” or what is the true meaning of Jesus’s death on the cross for His believers. Answers: (1) We should align our lives to experience heaven here on earth, (2) When He rose from the dead, He kept His promise “whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16)
Over the last few years, the world-renown Crystal Cathedral has weathered an onslaught of political and financial blows culminating in the sale of the church and its surrounding buildings. The Catholic Church will take over later this year. They’ve already started demolition of a few buildings, moved a few trees and statues.
In years past, under the leadership of its founder, the Reverend Robert H. Schuller, record crowds filled the large glass encased auditorium (ground floor plus three balconies) for two morning services, and one evening service. During the week, day and night, the campus was alive with church related and school activities. The Crystal Cathedral Academy school shares the grounds. And during holidays special programs like The Glory of Easter and The Glory of Christmas brought in swarms of regular attendees and visitors.
This morning one large cross covered with Easter lilies hung suspended over the orchestra where normally hundreds of potted lilies would adorn the entire pulpit, orchestra, and line the center aisle’s water feature.
When Dr. Schuller’s son Robert Anthony Schuller took over the pulpit attendance started to slip. A few years later the older daughter Sheila Schuller, took over and numbers dipped even lower. Today, grandson Bobby Schuller mans the pulpit. He shows promise, but he won’t be preaching in this location.
Sadly, Bobby took over too late to save the Cathedral.
UPDATE (June 2016): Bobby Schuller opened Shepherd’s Grove church in Garden Grove, California and serves as lead pastor on the “Hour of Power”television service.