I bring low the high tree, lift high the lowly tree, wither up the green tree, and make the dry tree bloom. As I, the LORD, have spoken, so I will do!” (Ez 17:24).

13 June 2021. 11th Sunday Ordinary Time. Cycle B-2021. Ez 17:22-24 + 2Cor 5:6-10 + Mk 4:26-34

The 2,736-seat Crystal Cathedral, touted as the world’s largest glass building, had been the principal place of worship for the megachurch Crystal Cathedral Ministries. Pastor Robert H. Schuller built it in 1980 to house his congregation that has overgrown its 1955 Garden Grove Community Church in Orange County, California.

Schuller’s oratory was less dogmatic than the fire-and-brimstone of other evangelists. It was light on theology and heavy on secularity. At its peak, his ministry operated the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove in which 150,200 worshipped, as well as the “Hour of Power” television program that had 20 million viewers a week.

One critic said, he achieved his megachurch vision but could not sustain it. The ministry he founded was built around his personality not on the ministry. Family squabble drove away the church’s members and viewers of the Hour of Power TV program.

Unable to pay its $55 million dollar debt that accrued for the production and broadcasting of the “Hour of Power” weekly TV show, Crystal Cathedral Ministries filed for bankruptcy in October 2010 and sought to sell the majestic Crystal Cathedral.

In 2012, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange which was then planning to build a new and larger cathedral bought the Crystal Cathedral and its adjacent campus for $57.5 million. It was renamed the Christ Cathedral and reopened in 2019 after renovating its interior to accommodate the Catholic Liturgy.

In 2013, from across the highway in the same city of Garden Grove, St. Callistus Catholic Parish moved into the Christ Cathedral. The parish was renamed Christ Cathedral Parish and its St. Callistus Catholic School that moved to the former Crystal Cathedral Academy facility was renamed Christ Cathedral Academy.

Founded in 1961, the St. Callistus Parish is the mother church of the Archdiocese of Orange. From its racially diverse 3,200-family members, an average of 10,000 attended its 12 weekend masses.

If the Crystal Cathedral Ministries, 150,200-strong at its peak, was a megachurch that was whittled down to a minichurch, the St. Callistus Catholic Parish, averaging 10,000 weekend worshippers, was a minichurch that ballooned into a megachurch.

The Crystal Cathedral Ministries that relinquished ownership of its Crystal Cathedral needed a new place for its worship services. It leased the buildings that St. Callistus Parish vacated, and renamed it Shepherd’s Grove. In April 2018, it left the Catholic facility to move on to Irvine. VSS

Picture credit: Top two photos from Pinterest.com–Crystal Cathedral of Garden Grove, CA: exterior and interior converted to Christ Cathedral. Bottom four photos, St. Callistus exterior and interior by Orange County Register. Shepherd Grove Ministry church exterior and interior by shepherdsgrove.org.