September 26, 2014 / 1:08 AM / 3 years ago

California Catholic diocese reveals new look for famed Crystal Cathedral

An undated artist's rendering shows the planned renovation design for the church called the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California.Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange/Handout via Reuters

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A California Roman Catholic diocese that bought the Crystal Cathedral, famed for its "Hour of Power" broadcasts, plans a remodel to orient the mega-church's interior toward an altar and close off some views, a rector said on Thursday.

Rector Christopher Smith said in an interview a day after the redesign was unveiled that the church in Southern California's Garden Grove is expected to be ready for a dedication in early 2017 following a multimillion dollar renovation.

The changes are intended to help the church accommodate Catholic Mass and rituals.

The Diocese of Orange County bought the church, which has 10,000 panes of glass that distinctively bathed worshippers in sunlight, in 2011 for $57.5 million in a bankruptcy sale that marked a dramatic downturn for a high-profile Protestant congregation and its prominent founding pastor.

An undated artist's rendering shows the planned renovation design for Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California.Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange/Handout via Reuters

Crystal Cathedral was one of the nation's first mega-churches, and the weekly "Hour of Power" broadcasts by pastor Robert Schuller featured celebrity guests, influenced similar religious programs and drew an international following.

The church, built in 1955 and now renamed Christ Cathedral, fell out of the hands of Crystal Cathedral Ministries following years of declining attendance and donations.

Designed by the late architect Philip Johnson, open views through the windows allowed worshippers to see people and cars outside.

But after the remodel the focus will shift to an altar, which is the center point of Catholic Mass and will occupy the center of the place of worship, under the design plans released by the diocese.

The final cost of renovating the cathedral, which will become the spiritual home of the diocese and its 1.3 million members, has not been determined and will be penciled out now that the initial design phase is completed.

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

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