- CRYSTAL CATHEDRAL (California) -
A Travelling Days Website

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DR ROBERT H SCHULLER (pictured right with son, Robert A Schuller), now known throughout the world by reason of his televised 'Hour of Prayer' services, started evangelical preaching in a drive-in cinema in Garden GroveCrystalCath1b.jpg - 12187 Bytes just south of Anaheim in 1955.
The success of the venture led to the designing by the American Institute of Architects' gold medal winner Philip Johnson and his partner, John Burgee, of the present star-shaped cathedral and built to hold over 3000 people. On September 14, 1980, Dr. Schuller dedicated the Cathedral, 'To the Glory of Man for the Greater Glory of God.'
More recently a 236ft (73metre) steeple was erected close to the main entrance (seen on the right-hand side of the above picture). It is comprised of highly polished stainless steel prisms, and houses a 52 bell carillon.

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The Cathedral has more than 10,000 windows of tempered silvered glass that are held in place by a lace-like frame of white steel trusses. Two 90 foot tall doors open electronically behind the pulpit 'to allow the morning sunlight and warm breezes to enhance the worship services'.
The congregation area seats nearly 3000, and over 1,000 singers and instrumentalists can perform in the chancel area. The services may also be viewed on a giant indoor television screen, or, by 'drive-in' worshippers, on a giant screen situated outside the Cathedral. Facilities have been installed for the immediate translation of the worship services into five languages. The cathedral is the home base for the international Crystal Cathedral Ministries and supports a local congregation of over 10,000 members.

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The Cathedral pipe organ was made possible by a gift from the late Hazel Wright of Chicago, and is among the five largest pipe organs in the world. 'Mrs Wright contributed more than two million dollars for both the organ and an endowment fund that guarantees its proper maintenance into perpetuity.
'The Hazel Wright organ is a far cry from the first small, portable electronic organ that Dr. and Mrs. Schuller bought in Iowa and brought with them on their move to California in 1955. That organ cost $1,800, and....was hauled every week for years on a trailer from the Schuller's home in Garden Grove to the Orange Drive-in Theater for services.'
The Hazel Wright organ was designed by the organist Virgil Fox and has 17,106 pipes, 230 voices, 293 ranks, 302 stops, 14 divisions, and two consoles with five keyboards each. The organ can be played from either console. Ninety-four ranks were completed by Fratelli Ruffatti in 1977. One hundred ranks were built by Aeolian-Skinner of Boston and installed in 1962 at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York City. They were purchased for the Cathedral organ in 1976. Twenty nine ranks were added by Ruffatti for the cathedral installation in 1982. Frederick Swann, Cathedral Organist Emeritus, supervised a significant extension of the organ in the years following its installation.
The chancel area in front of the organ is constructed from Rosso Alicante marble quarried in Spain, and cut and polished in Italy. The altar table and pulpit are made of granite. The seventeen foot tall cross is coated with eighteen carat gold leaf.

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The base of the seventy three metre tower and carillon (above) reflected in the wall of the main building.

(The author acknowledges the use of material, including the comments contained within quotation marks, to be found on the official Crystal Cathedral website. This site is part of the Travelling Days series.)

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