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If you like Robert Schuller's story, you might also like:
Ben Carson,
Francis Collins,
Millard Fuller,
Philip Johnson
and Desmond Tutu

Teachers can find prepared lesson plans featuring Robert Schuller in the Achievement Curriculum section:
The Democratic Process

Related Links:
Hour of Power
New Netherland

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Robert Schuller
Robert Schuller
Profile of Robert Schuller Biography of Robert Schuller Interview with Robert Schuller Robert Schuller Photo Gallery

Robert Schuller Biography

Crystal Cathedral

Robert Schuller Date of birth: September 16, 1926
Date of death: April 2, 2015

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  Robert Schuller
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Robert Harold Schuller was born in Alton, Iowa. He was raised on his parents farm nearby, in a small, close-knit community of Dutch Americans. The Schuller family were adherents of the Dutch Reformed Church, the oldest Protestant denomination in North America. Robert knew from the age of four that he wanted to be a minister of the church.

After graduating from the tiny high school of nearby Newkirk, Iowa, he entered Hope College, in Holland, Michigan, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree. While home for the summer he saw his parents home and farm utterly destroyed by a tornado. Eight other farms in the neighborhood were destroyed, but the Schullers were the only family to rebuild. Robert and his father bought a nearby farmhouse and dismantled it piece by piece, rebuilding it on their own property. At summer's end they were once again at home on the farm, and Robert was ready to return to Michigan to pursue his religious studies at Western Theological Seminary. In 1950 he received his Masters of Divinity.

Robert Schuller Biography Photo
The young Rev. Schuller married Arvella DeHaan of Newkirk, and the newlyweds moved to Chicago, where the newly ordained minister took up his first assignment, as pastor of the Ivanhoe Reformed Church. During his ministry, the congregation grew from 38 to over 400.

In 1955, Schuller's denomination, the Reformed Church in America, called on him to build a new congregation in the community of Garden Grove, in Orange County, California. With only $500 in assets, the minister found it difficult to find a building for the new congregation. At last, he decided to rent a drive-in movie theater, the Orange Drive-In. On the first Sunday, 100 persons attended services seated in their cars, while Rev. Schuller preached from the tarpaper roof of the snack bar.

Many in the Reformed Church considered this an undignified setting for divine services. but Rev. Schuller loved preaching under the open sky. The Garden Grove congregation grew rapidly. In 1961, Rev. Schuller opened his first permanent church building, the world's first walk-in/drive-in church designed by the distinguished architect Richard Neutra.

Robert Schuller Biography Photo
In 1968, Dr. Schuller founded New Hope, the world's first live, church-sponsored 24-hour counseling and suicide prevention hotline. Since its inception, it is estimated that over a million people have dialed this hotline and received immediate counseling.

The Robert H. Schuller Institute for Successful Church Leadership opened in 1970. More than 20,000 students from different Christian denominations, Catholic and Protestant, have graduated from the Institute. The same year Dr. Schuller began regular television broadcasts from his church. This program, The Hour of Power, has been broadcast on hundreds of stations around the world, and its peak, could be seen on 200 stations in the U.S. and Canada alone, while an estimated 30 million people watched the broadcast every week.

The Garden Grove congregation continued to grow; when a larger building was needed, Rev. Schuller commissioned the renowned architect Philip Johnson to build a new building, all of glass: the Crystal Cathedral. After almost insurmountable difficulties, this 2,736-seat architectural marvel was dedicated in 1980, "To the Glory of Man for the Greater Glory of God." For the next 30 years, one million people visited the Cathedral annually, for regular Sunday worship, for conferences, seminars, workshops and for two annual pageants, The Glory of Christmas and The Glory of Easter.

Robert Schuller Biography Photo
In 1992, Dr. Schuller fulfilled one of his lifelong dreams with the opening of the Fuqua International School of Christian Communications, funded by the generous donation of Mr. J.B. Fuqua, of Atlanta, Georgia. Dr. Schuller served for many years as Chancellor of the school, where ministers from all over the world hone their preaching skills.

Dr. Schuller is the author of over 30 books, six of which have found a place on The New York Times and Publishers Weekly best-seller lists. Robert and Arvella Schuller have five children, all active in Christian ministry. In 2006, Dr. Schuller stepped down as senior pastor of the Crystal Cathedral and was succeeded by his son, Robert A. Schuller, but father and son differed over the direction of the church and the younger Schuller left the Cathedral in 2008. The remaining Schuller children, led by pastor Sheila Schuller Coleman, continued to manage the affairs of the Cathedral.

The deep economic recession of 2008-2009 drastically reduced contributions to the Crystal Cathedral and other so-called mega-churches. Burdened with a $36 million mortgage, and debts of over $7.5 million owed to its vendors, Crystal Cathedral Ministries filed for bankruptcy protection in the autumn of 2010. By 2012, the last ties between the Schuller family and Crystal Cathedal Ministry were severed. The Crystal Cathedral building was sold to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, which planned to renovate the building for use as its diocesan cathedral. Robert H.Schuller died in 2015. His grandson, Robert V. "Bobby" Schuller continues to host the weekly broadcast of The Hour of Power television program.

This page last revised on Apr 02, 2015 16:10 EDT
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