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What is the Crystal Cathedral?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 13 November 2016
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The Crystal Cathedral is a prominent house of worship located in the city of Garden Grove in the state of California in the United States. While not actually constructed of crystal, the Christian church edifice does make extensive use of thousands of panes of high quality clear glass. The design provides a striking appearance that can be seen for miles, and provides a home to one of the largest congregations in the Reformed Church in America.

While the Crystal Cathedral is often referred to as a megachurch, the building was actually constructed long before the term came into common usage. Work on the Cathedral was begun in the late 1970’s under the auspices of the Garden Grove Community Church. The pastor for the congregation, Dr. Robert H. Schuller, had been with the church since its inception in 1955. Completed in 1980, the Crystal Cathedral became the home for not only the Garden Grove Community Church congregation, but also the base of operations for the broadcast of sermons by Dr. Schuller to television stations around the nation.

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The design of the Crystal Cathedral calls for the use of over ten thousand individual panes of glass. The panes are used for both walls and ceilings in the overall design. Rather than being bolted into the frame, the panes are held in place with the use of a silicone-based glue. This approach allows the Crystal Cathedral to withstand minor tremors that are common in the area, as well as hold up during earthquakes.

Upon completion, the church held room for just under three thousand worshippers in the main sanctuary. Along with the distinctive design, the Crystal Cathedral houses a beautiful 320 rank pipe organ that is considered to be among the best in the country. When the congregation began meeting in the edifice after the completion and dedication, they formally changed their name to the Crystal Cathedral Congregation.

Maintenance of the Crystal Cathedral is an ongoing process. The security of the panes is checked regularly, and replacements are made as needed. Due to the massive exposure of the building through local and broadcast ministries, the function of the Cathedral has become a standard for the construction of other megachurches, although none to date make use of glass components to the same degree. The high visibility afforded by the design of the Crystal Cathedral has also allowed the congregation to develop a wide range of ministries that are collectively managed under the name of Crystal Cathedral Ministries.

Dr. Schuller officially retired as the Senior Pastor of the Crystal Cathedral on 22 January 2006. Since that time, Dr. Robert A. Schuller has carried on his father’s work as the pastor for the church. The Crystal Cathedral continues to offer ministries to an international audience, and is often visited by persons from many different faiths.

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