Some members of a bankrupt Orange County, Calif. megachurch are expressing outrage after fielding an email request for congregants to deliver food to waiting limos so that it can ferried to the founder's sick wife. The appeal comes weeks after a lawsuit charged that the founder of the Crystal Cathedral house of worship, Rev. Robert Schuller, and his family had been paying themselves lavish salaries and other benefits while the church was in financial straits.
"They've completely depleted the church's funds," one member, Bob Canfield, told the Orange County Register. "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."
An email sent recently by Crystal Cathedral administrators said that Schuller and his wife, Arvella, "would appreciate meals over the next three to four weeks." It added: "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."
Arvella Schuller has been suffering from pneumonia, and the email asked that the food be low in sodium and include items such as fruit, meat, soup and eggs.
Crystal Cathedral Ministries filed for bankruptcy last month. A lawsuit filed by creditors alleges that the Schullers borrowed more than $10 million from the church's endowment fund, and used it for salaries and regular church expenses.
"R.H. Schuller used his control and influence to cause the [cathedral] to enter into the agreements that benefitted himself and his family, to the detriment of the creditors and in breach of his fiduciary duties" to the church, the suit charges.
A spokesman for the church, John Charles, said the food request was in keeping with the church's commitment to Christian charity. "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 Canfield sees things differently. "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."
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