Congregation had claimed 99-year lease prevented purchase by Catholic diocese
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A last-minute attempt to block the sale of the Crystal Cathedral failed Monday.
Cathedral insiders asserted that the congregation has a 99-year lease on the landmark Garden Grove church, and they refused to give up the lease to allow a court-ordered sale to go forward.
But U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Kwan ordered the $57.5 million sale of the church to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange to proceed.
The sale probably will close in the next several days. The diocese has promised that the congregation can continue to use the cathedral for three years before it becomes the diocese's spiritual home.
During an emergency hearing, no one from the congregation was able to prove that the 99-year lease exists.
James Dawson, a long-time member, testified about a 1987 meeting in which the congregation agreed to give the campus to Robert Schuller Ministries, predecessor of the now-bankrupt Crystal Cathedral Ministries, in return for a 99-year lease.
Attorneys for the ministries said they could find no record of a lease or lease payments.
Senior Pastor Sheila Schuller Coleman testified that the congregation paid the 99-year lease in full - all 99 years for the sum of $99.
Coleman, the daughter of founding pastor Robert H. Schuller, sits on the congregation and ministries boards.
She testified that she first learned of the lease the week of Jan. 9.
SOURCE: THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER