Arvella Schuller is pictured with her husband Rev. Robert Schuller in 2000 outside the former Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove. Arvella Schuller, 84, died today at UC Irvine Medical Center after a short illness.
Crystal Cathedral's Arvella Schuller dies at 84http://www.ocregister.com/articles/schuller-601284-cathedral-arvella.html
ORANGE – Arvella Schuller, the wife of the Rev. Robert H. Schuller who helped found the Crystal Cathedral Ministries and was the force behind the church's iconic "Hour of Power" television program, has died. She was 84.
Schuller died Tuesday at UCI Medical Center after a brief illness.
A daughter, Carol Milner, said her death was "very sudden. … But she died very peacefully surrounded by her family."
Known as the "first lady" of the Crystal Cathedral Ministries, Schuller played a key role in the church her husband founded five decades ago, including time as an organist in the early days and, later, helping create and run the "Hour of Power" television ministry that began as a live, local broadcast and went on to reach millions of viewers across the globe.
“She was the power behind the ‘Hour of Power,’ ” said Anne Moore Waltz, who first met Arvella in 1956 and later became a singer in the Hour of Power choir. “I give her credit for all of that."
By the time the “Hour of Power” first aired in 1970, her husband was soaring to prominence as a Christian minister with a blend of positive, upbeat sermons and star power. By 1975, the program was airing in all 50 states. Stars from Hollywood and beyond were regular guests, her husband’s books became best sellers and the church’s congregation swelled.
The Crystal Cathedral is considered one of the first modern mega-churches in the U.S.
Michael Nason, who co-produced the "Hour of Power" with Arvella Schuller for about 25 years, said she knew what it took to produce a dynamic church service that appealed to those in the pews and the faithful watching in living rooms. She also innovated at every opportunity, making the "Hour of Power" the first syndicated television show to have closed captioning, an accomplishment for which she was honored for by the Carter Administration.
Arvella De Haan was born on July 25, 1929 in a small farming community in Iowa. She was playing the organ in her hometown church one Saturday morning when Schuller, a student at Western Theological Seminary in Michigan, walked into the sanctuary, having been invited as a guest preacher, Nason recalled.
"When he returned after preaching there, he told one of his friends that he had just met the girl he was going to marry," he said. "It was absolutely love at first sight."
They were married in Iowa on June 15, 1950 and moved to Chicago where Schuller served as pastor of the Ivanhoe Reformed Church. They moved to Garden Grove in 1955, and Schuller began delivering sermons from the rooftop of the Orange Drive-in snack bar. By 1957, the Sunday morning services for the Garden Grove Community Church were packed.
Arvella Schuller was her husband’s most valued director and critic. Nason recalled one time when Robert Schuller "did not deliver the best message." When he returned to his office, his wife let him know his sermon had fallen flat.
"He banged his fist on his desk and told her she shouldn't be telling him how to deliver his message," Nason said with a laugh. "But the next day, he went up there and did precisely what she told him to do."
Arvella Schuller had a little joke she liked to share with those close to the family: At home, her husband ruled the roost; but, she ruled the rooster.
"They played to each other's strengths," Nason said. "They made every decision together."
Schuller had her fingerprints on every element of production behind the “Hour of Power” – from booking guests and editing content to fine-tuning her husband’s sermons and crafting the music program.
“She was the brains behind the church,” said broadcaster Ed Arnold, a volunteer announcer with the “Hour of Power," beginning it 1970, when it first aired. “(Robert Schuller) came up with the ideas, they would go over them together and she carried them out.”