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-New "Crystal Cathedral Covenant" Requires Choir Members to Actually be Christians

by Dr. D ~ March 16th, 2011

The exteriors of Crystal Cathedral. Garden Gro...

(Crystal Cathedral via Wikipedia)

A new ‘Covenant‘ for choir members at the Crystal Cathedral requires them to actually be Christians and acknowledge their denomination’s stand on traditional marriage. Some long-time members are upset with the new declaration.

The part of the covenant that is controversial to some states:

“I understand that in an era where images of family relationship and personal sexuality are often confused, Crystal Cathedral Ministries believes that it is important to teach and model the biblical view. I understand that Crystal Cathedral Ministries teaches that sexual intimacy is intended by God to only be within the bonds of marriage, between one man and one woman.”

Sheila Schuller Coleman, senior pastor of the Crystal Cathedral (Garden Grove,CA) issued a statement Tuesday saying that the document was intended to:

“clarify expectations placed on them as ministry leaders.”

“It is true that our new choir covenant includes a definition of marriage and that may have contributed to the hurt.

“The definition is the one that our denomination, The Reformed Church in America, and the Crystal Cathedral adheres to, based on its understanding of the scriptures.”

“As the church has been engaging in this sensitive dialogue, people that we care for deeply have been hurt. We are sincerely sorry. Those of us in church leadership ask for understanding as we seek to obey God and love all of His children.”

UPDATE: Today founding pastor Robert H. Schuller actually spoke out against the covenant which placed a strong emphasis on choir members being Christian and heterosexual though he said that he does agree with the denominational stance:

“I have a reputation worldwide of being tolerant of all people and their views. I’m too well-educated to criticize a certain religion or group of people for what they believe in. It’s called freedom.”

“That doesn’t mean that we are going to start a crusade against homosexuals.”

“But if my church members required covenants, they would no longer live up to the principles of being positive that marks the history of the ministry of Robert H. Schuller.”

“We have never been for covenants or definitions. We don’t test anyone who comes to our ministry. We don’t require them to be Christian. We would not demand that they be born-again Christians.”

Response: From what I can find out only a couple of members were initially upset over the document. Now it has become a cause celebre and an embarrassment since the article first came out in a rather one-sided fashion in the OC Register newspaper.Just because the homosexual lifestyle and same-sex marriage has become somewhat culturally acceptable in Southern California doesn’t mean that the Biblical scriptures or church doctrines have changed in anyway.

In the original article it was presented as some kind of scandal that the church would dare to require worship leaders including the choir to uphold certain church standards and actually be Christians for that matter.  There are probably 1,000 churches or so in So. Cal. with similar requirements for their ministers and leaders however none that I know go so far to require choir members to sign doctrinal statements or covenants.

While it is normal for churches to require ministry and worship leaders to adhere to church teachings and doctrines and has been for centuries the choir has been used as an outreach by many churches including the Crystal Cathedral in the past.

With all of the financial troubles and leadership controversies that has bogged down this church recently it is unfortunate that the leaders chose to create another one and needlessly so.

However since Robert Schuller himself has come out of retirement to speak so pointedly about the covenant it has now escalated into a serious controversy for sure. Among his own leaders and successors, and long-time church members but also in the larger Christian community. With the public airing of it in the press it has also unfortunately gone national and become the subject of ridicule in dozens of articles across the entire country particularly among Gay activist bloggers.                *Top

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