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Crystal Cathedral megachurch files for bankruptcy

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Crystal Cathedral

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GARDEN GROVE, Calif. — Crystal Cathedral filed for bankruptcy on Monday in Southern California after months of trying to overcome mounting debt.

The megachurch, birthplace of the "Hour of Power" televangelist broadcast, announced its filing as it deals with a $55 million debt.

Church spokesman John Charles said the church owes about $7.5 million to a host of vendors for services such as advertising and providing the use of live animals for Easter and Christmas services.

The church was negotiating a payment plan with vendors but several chose to file lawsuits, the church said in a statement.

"We've always believed in a big God ... a God Who is greater than any problem or challenge we could ever face," Sheila Schuller Coleman, the Cathedral's senior pastor, said in a statement. "Our announcement today to file for the protection of Chapter 11 is just one more chapter in the book that He is continuing to write."

The Orange County-based church, founded in the mid-1950s by the Robert H. Schuller Sr., earlier this year ordered major layoffs. It also cut the number of stations airing the "Hour of Power" and sold property to stay afloat.

In addition, the 10,000-member church canceled this year's "Glory of Easter" pageant, which attracts thousands of visitors and is a regional holiday staple.

The church was founded in the 1950s at a drive-in theater and attracted congregants with its sermons on the power of positive thinking. Its worship hall features a soaring glass spire that opened in 1970 and remains an architectural wonder and tourist destination.

Church leaders blamed the decline on the struggling U.S. economy. Other megachurches have also suffered from the downturn and reduced charitable giving.

The "Hour of Power" telecast, filmed in the cathedral's main sanctuary, at one point attracted 1.3 million viewers in 156 countries.

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