From Crystal Cathedral to Christ Cathedral

Street view of the new Christ Cathedral in Orange, CA

What are the symbolic, artistic, liturgical, theological, legal and very practical decisions to make in converting a sacred space designed for one faith expression into a sacred space for a different faith expression? You might be surprised.

Recently the LA Times offered some insight into these questions in their report, Changing faiths at the Crystal Cathedral (Rick Rojas, September 13, 2013).

The name has already been changed to the Christ Cathedral. But the work of liturgical consultants, priests and architects to transform a temple so closely identified as a symbol of Schuller’s sunny, uniquely Southern Californian theology into one that conforms to the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church has just begun.

“The exterior will always be the Crystal Cathedral, at least for a while,” said Duncan Stroik, a professor of architecture at Notre Dame and editor of the publication Sacred Architecture Journal. “Catholic on the inside, but kind of Protestant on the outside.”

Those who have taken on the project recognize that their assignment is a intimidating one, but they also have faith:

They can turn the Crystal Cathedral into the Christ Cathedral.

It is a fascinating story. It affirms our quest here (in the blog) and in the Sunday Morning Forum to ‘pay attention’ to our faith expressed in art and our faith shaped by art (in its many forms). What do you think?

Image: Mark Boster in the LA Times. Click the image to view more photographs of this project and of the history of the Crystal Cathedral.

Author: Daniel Rondeau

I am a husband and father and an Episcopal Priest (now retired) in the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego.

3 thoughts on “From Crystal Cathedral to Christ Cathedral”

  1. “Legal” considerations in renovation: a number of folks made contributions to a “Walk of Faith.” The contribution was memorialized with a marble stone placed on the grounds (often inscribed with Bible verses and the donor’s name) and part of the contribution was to be used for perpetual maintenance. With bankruptcy and the sale of the Crystal Cathedral, things changed. Here is one report about this aspect of renovation: Steppingstones from Crystal Cathedral’s Walk of Faith being removed in the LA Times.


  2. You are making a mountain out of a molehill. There will not be a change of faith. There will be a change of worship of the same faith. The faith is that Jesus Christ is the son of God and died on the cross to save us all from death so that we will have life everlasting. We are to love God and love our neighbor, the other person. How we worship has nothing to do with our faith as Christians. I loved the Chrystal Cathedral and am happy the Catholic Church is taking it over. Far better than some mega developer tearing it down and building another giant shopping center to feed the ego of the consumer.

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