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Robert Schuller

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Robert Schuller

For other persons with similar names, see Robert Schuler.
The Reverend
Robert H. Schuller
Born Robert Harold Schuller
(1926-09-16) September 16, 1926 (age 87)
Alton, Iowa, United States
Nationality American
Education Hope College, Western Theological Seminary
Alma mater Hope College, 1948
Occupation Christian minister
Years active 1955-2006
Known for Christian minister, author of "positive thinking" books
Notable work(s) If It's Going to Be, It's up to Me
Television The Hour of Power (1970–2006)
Religion Reformed Church in America
Spouse(s) Arvella De Haan
Children Robert, Sheila, Jeanne, Carol and Gretchen

Robert Harold Schuller (born September 16, 1926, in Alton, Iowa) is a retired American televangelist, pastor, motivational speaker, and author. He is principally known for the weekly Hour of Power television program which he began in 1970. He is also the founder of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California, where the Hour of Power program originates.[1] On January 22, 2006, Schuller announced his retirement.

Early years

Schuller was born near Alton, Iowa, on September 16, 1926 to Jennie (née Belkham) and Anthony Schuller.[2] The youngest of 4 children, he is of Dutch descent.[3] He studied at Hope College and received a Master of Divinity degree from Western Theological Seminary in 1950. He was ordained as a minister in the Reformed Church in America. He worked at Ivanhoe Reformed Church in Riverdale, Illinois, before moving to Garden Grove, California. There he opened the Garden Grove Community Church in 1955 in a drive-in movie theater. He also built a new 300-seat chapel about four miles (6 km) from the drive-in theater. Schuller conducted a service in the chapel at 9:30 Sunday mornings and then drove his organ to the drive-in to conduct a second service there.[4]

As the size of the congregations grew, Schuller purchased 10 acres (40,000 m2) at 12141 Lewis Street in Garden Grove for a "walk-in, drive-in" church serving both congregations. Ground was broken September 10, 1958, for construction of the new church designed by international architect Richard Neutra. The church was completed in 1961 at a cost of $3,000,000.[5][6] The dedication service was held November 5, 1961.[7]

The design of the new church building enabled Schuller to preach his sermons to worshipers in 500 cars as well as to members of the congregation inside the church.[8]

A "Tower of Hope" building was added on the north side of the drive-in church building in 1968; it rose 90 feet (27 m) in the air, the highest structure in Orange County at that time, and was topped by a cross. That same year, Schuller purchased the 10-acre (40,000 m2) walnut grove that bordered the north side of the Garden Grove Community Church for the construction of the much larger "Crystal Cathedral" designed by architect Philip Johnson. The church, which has glass walls and ceiling, was dedicated on September 14, 1980.


Schuller focuses on what he believes are the positive aspects of the Christian faith. He deliberately avoids condemning people for sin, believing that Jesus "met needs before touting creeds". Once in relationship with God, Schuller emphasizes, someone who is sowing positive faith in his heart and actions will discover that the by-product is a reduction of sin. He is known to say, "Sin is a condition before it is an action." Schuller encourages Christians (and non-Christians) to achieve great things through God and to believe in their dreams. He wrote, "If you can dream it, you can do it!"[9]

As the Crystal Cathedral’s founding pastor, Schuller was seen and heard internationally on Sundays on the world’s most widely watched hour-long church service, the Hour of Power, 1500 of which were recorded.[1] In March 2012, under new leadership, the ministry began broadcasting a shortened 30-minute version of the Hour of Power. Discovery Channel and Lifetime are airing the shortened show, but the 60-minute version is continuing on the Trinity Broadcasting Network.


On June 15, 1950, Schuller married Arvella De Haan, a church organist, who was instrumental in developing the music department at the Crystal Cathedral and produced the Hour of Power for over 40 years. The Schullers had one son, Robert, and four daughters, Sheila, Jeanne, Carol and Gretchen.[10]

Schuller's son, Robert A. Schuller, and eldest daughter, Sheila Schuller Coleman, have both been senior pastors of Crystal Cathedral. His grandson Robert V. Schuller succeeded as the lead pastor of the Hour of Power in 2013.

Schuller's second daughter, Jeanne Dunn, and her husband, Paul Dunn, oversaw The Glory of Christmas and The Glory of Easter productions. Jeanne Dunn has assisted in various editorial contributions to various printed works and for Schuller's books. Her husband co-authored The Possibility Thinker's Bible and Living Debt Free with Schuller.

The third daughter, Carol Schuller Milner, was the writer, director, and producer of Creation: Once Upon All Time that debuted in 2005 to an audience of over 70,000. She co-wrote Schuller's autobiography, My Journey, and has written several other works.

The youngest daughter, Gretchen Schuller Penner, was director of programming for the ministry. Her husband, James Penner, was the producer of the Hour of Power telecast. Both were fired in a restructuring of Crystal Cathedral Ministries in March 2012.[11]

Retirement and succession

On January 22, 2006, Schuller's son, Robert A. Schuller, assumed the role of senior pastor of the Crystal Cathedral. On October 25, 2008, however, Schuller removed his son from that position citing "a lack of shared vision".[12] Schuller stated that "different ideas as to the direction and the vision for this ministry" with his son "made it necessary ... to part ways in the Hour of Power television ministry".[13] Schuller also said "I love my son and am proud of my son" and that the long-term survival of his ministry was dependent on expanding its imprint beyond the Schuller name. "The real minister's name that we honor is Jesus, not Schuller", he said.[14]

On June 11, 2009, Schuller announced that the church's leadership would pass to his daughter, Sheila Schuller Coleman. On July 11, 2010, he announced that he was retiring as principal pastor of the Crystal Cathedral and would become chairman of the church's board of directors.[15] After a year as interim senior pastor, Sheila Schuller Coleman was elevated to senior pastor in July 2010.

Schuller Coleman is the oldest of the five Schuller children and the former head of family ministries at the Crystal Cathedral. Since her brother's departure, she had been the Director of Ministry and Mission.

On October 18, 2010, Schuller Coleman announced that the Crystal Cathedral was seeking bankruptcy protection.[16]

On July 3, 2011, it was reported in the Orange County Register that Schuller had been ousted from the board of the Crystal Cathedral.[17] In July 2011, Schuller was honored as "Chairman of the Board Emeritus". Sheila Schuller Coleman said that "Dad will continue to provide leadership for this ministry through me for as long as possible" and "I have and will continue to defer to his wisdom and honor him for his unprecedented accomplishments."[18]

On March 11, 2012, Sheila Schuller Coleman told the congregation of the Crystal Cathedral that she was leaving to start a new church.[19]

On January 24, 2013, the decision was announced that the Crystal Cathedral's board of directors voted to make Bobby Schuller, the son of Robert A. Schuller, the new pastor for the Hour of Power[20] television program as well as a non-voting member of the board.[21]

Bobby Schuller, who was filling in as a guest pastor, will remain an unpaid pastor until the ministry moves to a new campus, the St. Callistus Catholic Church, which is planned to occur in June 2013. Bobby Schuller is also a teaching pastor at the Tree of Life Community Church in Orange.

In late August 2013, Schuller was diagnosed with esophageal cancer that had spread to the lymph nodes. A follow-up examination in September 2013 presented Schuller with the possibility of undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatment that could extend his life.[22]


Schuller has authored 37 hardcover books, six of which have made the New York Times and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists,[1] including:

  • Way To The Good Life (1963)
  • Move Ahead With Possibility Thinking (1967)
  • Self-Love (1975)
  • You Can Be The Person You Want To Be (1976)
  • Toughminded Faith for Tenderhearted People (1979), Thomas Nelson, ISBN 0-8407-5329-2
  • Self-Esteem: The New Reformation (1982)
  • Tough Times Never Last but Tough People Do (1983), Thomas Nelson ISBN 978-0-8407-5287-1
  • The Power of Being Debt Free (1985); Thomas Nelson Publishing, ISBN 0-8407-5461-2
  • Living Positively One Day At A Time (1986)
  • Success Is Never Ending, Failure Is Never Final (1990)
  • Life's Not Fair, But God Is Good (1991)
  • Prayer: My Soul's Adventure with God (1995), Doubleday ISBN 978-0-385-48505-0
  • My Journey: From An Iowa Farm To A Cathedral Of Dreams (2001)
  • Hours of Power (2004)
  • Don't Throw Away Tomorrow (2005)


External links

  • Crystal Cathedral Ministries website
  • Letting in the Light by Steve Thomas
  • Archive of American Television interview

Template:Crystal Cathedral

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