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Crystal Cathedral


Crystal Cathedral

Garden Grove, California

One of Lynn's goals has been to visit the Crystal Cathedral. We had booked a cruise from Los Angeles, California to travel through the Panama Canal and return home from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Our plans were to board the Corral Princess on Tuesday. Thus, we had Princess Cruises make reservations for us on the Sunday prior to our departure date to allow us to visit and tour around Los Angeles for a day or so.

Crystal did some research and learned that there would be a service in the Cathedral at 6:00pm on Sunday night. We had intended to rent a taxi to take us to the church. When we learned that it would cost $90 each way we decided that it would be wiser to rent a car for a day for about $40. It turned out to be a good decision plus it gave us a feel of what driving on the Los Angeles turnpikes were like. They make driving in Detroit seem like child's play.

We arrived at the church around 5:30pm. The choir had just finished rehearsing. Lynn took the above photos prior to the service because he felt it would be inappropriate to take them during the service. His plans were to take a number of them when we returned to tour the next day but that didn't work out. The building was closed all day for a video taping session.

The Cathedral is constructed using tubular steel frames and is enclosed entirely with glass. The glass is tinted and gives the appearance of being one huge mirror. The photo (above left) was taken when we arrived at 5:30pm on Sunday night. The photo (above right) was taken the next morning. The sky was overcast in the morning when we arrived but the sun managed to shine through the haze within an hour of our arrival.

Dr. Robert Schuller, the founder of the Crystal Cathedral, began his ministry atop a concession stand of a drive-in theater near Garden Grove around 40 years ago. When his ministry began to be televised (Hour of Power) the congregation had built their church but didn't forget how it started. The photos above are taken in the sanctuary of the first church.

Notice the tall windows on the right hand side. They open to a huge parking lot just outside the building walls. Our guide said it would be normal to have 300 - 400 people inside while as many people worshipped in their cars outside. The windows allowed them to see into the building so they could participate. I recall Dr. Schuller speaking about people who were unable to walk or get around easily. They were some of the earliest parishioners who joined when he was preaching at the drive-in theater.

Today there are trees and plantings between the "original" church and the parking lot. Lynn wasn't aware of the close proximity of the church to the Cathedral and was surprised to see them side by side so to speak.

Notice how the stones are laid on the outside walls of the church. Our guide told us that the idea of placing them in the vertical position, versus the horizontal position as stones are normally laid, was Dr. Schuller's suggestion to the architect when the church was built. He felt it cause the eye to move upward toward the heavens toward God. After a while we began to feel how this simple arrangement of stones gave the illusion of additional height to the building.

The building shown above was built prior to the Crystal Cathedral. The skin of the building is stainless steel and houses a gift shop, offices and a museum on the top floor. One of the components of the museum is a piece of the roof of the drive-in theater that Dr. Schuller used to place his pulpit on. It was donated by the owner of the theater who used to rent it to him.

The above are two views of the Cathedral from within the building.

The steeple of the Cathedral looms into the air. The interior construction is tubular steel, the same as the Cathedral. but ribs of the steeple are stainless steel.

The Good Shepherd

1964: Bronze sculpture by Henry Van Wolf -- a gift of Dr. and Mrs. Robert H. Schuller

Within the 40 acre site are a number of sculptures that are astounding. Tucked away, between the original church and the cathedral, is this sculpture depicting the 23rd psalm i.e. The Good Shepherd

The Miracle of the Loaves and Fishes--Smiling Jesus.

The photo with the eagle is titled: "The Bronze Eagle" a monumental bronze by Dallas Anderson.


1983: A life-size sculpture of white Vermont granite by Dallas Anderson.

As we walked along the pathway we came upon a sculpture of Jesus talking and laughing with some children.At the beginning of the path, leading to the sculptures, is a waterfall/pond with a bronze eagle sculpture.

In the photo to the left you can see a Vermont granite statue depicting Job.

As you can see in the following photos, the granite is pure white. It is similar to sculptures we saw while visiting the Louvre in Paris a couple of years ago.

The detailing of the sculpture is stunning.

Looking toward the North-West from the statue of Job we look over a sunken garden at a building used for educational/religious training.

A number of the sculptures depict stories from both the Old Testament and New Testament bibles. The series of photos that follow depict the story where Jesus pleads for a woman who has been condemned to death by stoning.

One of the men depicted in the sculpture is holding a stone in his hand while another hold a scroll depicting "the law." The sculpture is made entirely of bronze.


The Garden of Peace -- Love Without Condemnation

1984: Let He who Is Without Sin Cast The First Stone.
A monumental bronze by Dallas Anderson.

Peace Be Still

2000: A monumental bronze sculpture by Dallas Anderson. A gift of Stan and Betsy Phelps.

Joyful Jesus--I Found Him

2000: Monumental bronze sculpture by De L'Esprie. A gift of Bill and Elna Bryant.

God's Way to the Good Life

2000: Moses With The Ten Commandments
Monumental Bronze by Dr. John M. Soderberg.

The Holy Family--Milestones and Miracles

1998: Life-size bronze by J. Seward Johnson. A gift of Dr. Keith C. and Elaine J. Wold.

We loved the subtle humor and amount of detail in this sculpture. Notice the donkey chewing on Joseph's robe.

The sculpture is made of colored bronze with exception of Jesus who is made of stainless steel. Our guide told us that it was the artists way of depicting him as the light of the world.

Lynn got a feeling that what was really happening was that they were lost. Joseph is frustrated and says, "Did you see a sign where we are supposed to turn." Mary smiles because he was just to stubborn to ask for directions as usual. Jesus is asking, "Are we there yet?"

Coming Home--The Prodigal Son

2002: Monumental bronze sculpture by De L'Esprie.


Lynn's favorite was the statue of the Prodigal Son as one could feel the emotions of each person depicted in the piece. Notice the tears on the faces of each person.

In all we spent about four hours touring the grounds. Along the way Lynn told our guide that he had forgotten a package that his brother had prepared to give to them. When the guide asked what it was Lynn replied, "A box full of Windex coupons." The guide got a chuckle out of that.

He then went on to tell us that the Cathedral had been washed just the previous week. There is a machine made just for the Cathedral to wash the glass surfaces. It is lifted with a crane to the top of the building onto tracks built into the structure. It then proceeds to wash all of the surfaces in one day.

As we left the site we decided to visit the port where we would meet out ship the Corral Princess the next day. Today however, we would visit the Queen Mary and have lunch in her restaurant.

 In January 1957 Crystal sailed from Southampton, England to New York. While aboard the Queen Mary, Crystal was asked to sign a special log book they had for people who had sailed on the Queen Mary. 

Currently, the Queen Mary serves as a hotel. There are tours of the ship during the day but we decided to just walk about her and find our own items of interest. All of the original staterooms have been removed. There is one museum area on the ship that has one stateroom reconstructed for each of the three levels of passage.

After our self directed tour we drove back to our hotel, returned the car to the rental agency and ate dinner at Joes Crab Shack by the ocean. As we ate we watched seals lazing in the sea. Tomorrow we would be picked up by the Princess crew and transported to the Corral Princess. It would be our home for the next two weeks as we sail south toward the equator to cross via the Panama Canal and return to the U.S. at Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

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Copyright 2002 Kauer's Korner
Last modified:    April 2013