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Televangelist Robert Schuller leaves church board

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Televangelist Robert Schuller and his wife have left the board of Crystal Cathedral amid a financial dispute with leaders of the California church, which was founded by the Schullers and is famous for its "Hour of Power" broadcasts.

The resignation of Robert and Arvella Schuller follows the $57.5 million bankruptcy sale completed in February of the towering, glass-walled megachurch in the Southern California community of Garden Grove to a local Roman Catholic diocese.

A Crystal Cathedral representative was not immediately available for comment.

"We cannot continue to serve on the board in what has become an adversarial and negative atmosphere, especially since it now seems that it will not be ending anytime soon," Arvella Schuller said in a statement on Saturday.

The Schullers and their daughter, Carol Schuller Milner, have alleged in bankruptcy court that the church owes them money for copyright infringement, intellectual property violations and unpaid contracts, said the Schullers' attorney, Carl Grumer.

Robert Schuller retired as senior pastor of the church in 2006. The Schullers' departure from the board marks the closing of a chapter for the embattled congregation, which got its start in 1955 when the couple began holding services in a rented drive-in theater.

With the success of Robert Schuller's "Hour of Power" broadcasts, his congregation in 1980 opened the Crystal Cathedral church, which is famous for its 10,000 panes of glass.

"Hour of Power" is currently in reruns while production is on hold, as the church has faced declining donations.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange envisions using the cathedral as a place of worship for its 1.2 million congregants, after the existing Protestant congregation completes its move to a new place in the coming years.

(Reporting By Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Paul Thomasch)

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