The Crystal Cathedral Sparkles In The California Sunshine

I tell my friends it’s OK to sometimes call me “Filly (lively and high-spirited girl) Nelson.” That’s appropriate when I’ve been “on the road again,” – which is the case

We returned earlier this week from the National Association of Realtors conference in Anaheim, Calif. It was great sunny fun plus informative for my Realtor husband, Jim. But I must say the highlight of the trip for me was revisiting the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove which was no more than 12 minutes from our hotel. We were accompanied by Realtor Laurel Haake and her husband Lynn. Since we couldn’t worship there Sunday morning because of a conference class, we went Monday before flying out.

This was my second time to the Crystal Cathedral. The Herald sent me as a reporter to cover the 200-member North Dakota High School Centennial Band’s march in the Rose Bowl Parade in 1989. That time we and the band did worship at the Crystal Cathedral. This time I looked to the balconies and I’m pretty sure I remember where we sat that Sunday morning in 1989.

I picked up last Sunday’s bulletin (Nov. 13). Oh how I would have loved being there to sing “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee,” “Holy! Holy! Holy! Lord God Almighty and “Revelation Song.” I am, however, grateful for the time to stop by at all.

Here is information about the Crystal Cathedral I have gleaned from its website:

The Crystal Cathedral (Protestant Christian affiliated with the Reformed Church in America) was founded by Robert H. Schuller who established the Garden Grove Community Church in 1955. He first held worship services in a drive in theater. In 1977, Schuller commissioned Philip Johnson to design a new building for the rapidly growing church. The building, named the Crystal Cathedral, was constructed using more than 10,000 rectangular panes of glass. It was completed in 1981 and seats 2,736 people.

Sadly, like many church bodies, the Crystal Cathedral has fallen on hard times. In 2010, its board filed for bankruptcy. The church received offers for the building from an investment group and from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, Calif., all with the provision of the building being leased back to the church for a period of time.

Just yesterday, Nov. 17, 2011, the bankruptcy court ruled that the church building would be sold to the Catholic Diocese of Orange which plans to lease the facility to Crystal Cathedral Ministries for three years after which the Crystal Cathedral Ministries will move to a nearby Catholic facility.

If you’ve never been to this beautiful haven please let me take you on a photo tour beginning with the cathedral itself followed by the many statues on the grounds and finally the people we met. Click on the photos to bring them closer.

Inside the Crystal Cathedral

Inside the Crystal Cathedral.  We sat in a balcony seat when we attended a service here in 1989.

 This statue of a smiling Jesus “greets visitors to the Crystal Cathedral.”


This statue tells the story found in Luke 15 of the lost sheep that was found.

Coming home–the story of the Prodigal Son as told in Luke 15.


Statue of Jesus Walking on the water — a story told in Matthew 14.

Statue of The Holy Family on a journey.

The breathtakingly beautiful ladies restroom located in a separate building near the Crystal Cathedral.

Ed Maissi, 84, waits inside the Crystal Cathedral on weekdays to welcome visitors and to tell how he feels about his church.  “I’ve been here 15 years and I love this place,” he said.  Ed was born in Lebanon but has spent most of his adult life in the United States.  He speaks Arabic, French, Italian, Spanish and English.

It is a small world after all.  We met the Rev. Warren Nelson, 88, who had just led a group of volunteers in prayer before they were about to feed 150 homeless people.  The Crystal Cathedral does this every Monday.  It was delightful to learn that Retired Rev. Nelson grew up in Duluth, Minn. He graduated from a Chicago seminary and served churches in Alexandria, Minn., Gary, Ind., and Orange, Calif.  We could have spent the entire day visiting with this extremely interesting Man of God but we had a plane to catch.

Almost as if to say, “goodbye,” throngs of Birds of Paradise are among the last things you see as you leave the Crystal Cathedral grounds.  Bird of Paradise is one of the most colorful flowers in the world.  The name comes from the spectacular flower shape which resembles a bird’s beak and head plumage.  They were so real looking I expected them to take flight at any moment.  They speak well of their surroundings which are indeed a paradise.

Until soon

1 Response

  1. Tricia Myran

    As a proud member of the North Dakota Centennial Band, I can assure you that we were at the Crystal Cathedral in 1989, the year our state turned 100 years old, and I graduated from high school. I was in college in 1990.

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