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Televangelist Robert Schuller leaves church board

Date March 12, 2012

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Televangelist Robert Schuller and his wife have left the board of the California megachurch that they founded and made famous for the "Hour of Power" broadcasts, amid a financial dispute with its leaders.

The resignation of Robert and Arvella Schuller from the Crystal Cathedral board follows the $57.5 million bankruptcy sale in February of the towering, glass-walled church in the Southern California community of Garden Grove to a Roman Catholic diocese.

A Crystal Cathedral representative was not immediately available for comment.

"We cannot continue to serve on the board in what has become an adversarial and negative atmosphere, especially since it now seems that it will not be ending anytime soon," Arvella Schuller said in a statement on Saturday.

The couple and their daughter, Carol Schuller Milner, have alleged in bankruptcy court that the church owes them money for copyright infringement, intellectual property violations and unpaid contracts, their attorney Carl Grumer said.

Their departure from the board marks the closing of a chapter for the embattled congregation, which began in 1955 when they started holding services in a rented drive-in theater.

With the success of Robert Schuller's "Hour of Power" broadcasts, his congregation in 1980 opened the Crystal Cathedral church, which is famous for its 10,000 panes of glass. Robert Schuller retired as senior pastor of the church in 2006.

"Hour of Power" is currently in re-runs while production is on hold. The church has faced declining donations.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange County envisions using the cathedral as a place of worship for its congregants, after the existing Protestant congregation completes its move to a new location.

(Reporting By Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Paul Thomasch)

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