Crystal Cathedral names Winnipegger as interim pastor
By Aaron Epp | Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California. Photo by C. Strife.
GARDEN GROVE, CAA Winnipeg-born man is the interim senior pastor at California's famed Crystal Cathedral.
Lawrence Wilkes earned his bachelor of religious education at Providence College in Otterburne, Manitoba in the 1960s before eventually obtaining a PhD from the California Graduate School of Theology. Wilkes became interim pastor this past March.
"I love it. I love this place," Wilkes says. "I'm the type that loves the classical style of worship with pipe organ, full choir, beautiful old hymns of the faith and that ambience of the Crystal Cathedral is just absolutely breathtaking. I love a Sunday morning here. It's just incredible."
Wilkes first joined the staff at the Crystal Cathedral in 1991, serving as pastor in the church's evening service for 10 years as well as being a dean at the Robert Schuller School for Preaching. He left the church in 2009, but eagerly accepted the invitation to come back as interim pastor.
"I love the people of the church," Wilkes says. "I love them very, very much and it has deeply distressed me and hurt me to see the horrible things that have gone on here over the years. I just readily said yes because I want to do anything I can to help this congregation."
Founded by Robert H. Schuller, the Crystal Cathedral can seat more than 2,736 people and is home to Hour of Power, the popular weekly Christian television program.
The church's board filed for bankruptcy in 2010 and the church building was bought by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange last summer. The congregation of St. Callistus Catholic Church will begin worshipping there in June 2013, and the Crystal Cathedral congregation will move to St. Callistus Catholic Church's current building.
Schuller and members of his family have also filed a lawsuit against the church, requesting at least $5.5 million they feel they are owed.
Wilkes says that in spite of the church's troubles, Hour of Power remains popular, broadcasting in 11 countries around the world.
He says there is no end date for his work at this point. Since the church has been dealing with a variety of other issues, hiring a successor has not been on the agenda.
Wilkes says it is good to be back at the church though, and he never would have imagined when he was growing up in Winnipeg where his life would take him.
"I never in my wildest dreams or nightmares would have thought I'd be in the situations I'm in today," Wilkes says with a laugh. "I love it. I love serving the Lord and the church, so I'm as happy as can be."