Latino to lead Schueller's Hispanic ministry

Argentinian to head Crystal Cathedral's Hispanic ministry
Dante Gebel, media personality, wants to reach estimated 850,000 Latinos living in 10-mile radius of Garden Grove.
By DEEPA BHARATH, The Orange County Register

GARDEN GROVE – Crystal Cathedral administrators are expecting great things from Dante Gebel, an Argentinian televangelist and movie personality who has arrived from Buenos Aires to take over the megachurch's Hispanic ministry, a Cathedral spokesman said Wednesday.

"This is a huge personality and we're fortunate to have him," said Michael Nason. "This is a person who is known as the 'pastor of Latin America.' We're excited he's here to lead our Hispanic ministry."

Late last year, Crystal Cathedral dealt with the controversial departure of the Rev. Robert A. Schuller, son of founder Rev. Robert H. Schuller. The younger Schuller left last year in the midst of a family feud with his father and other family members. His wife, Donna Schuller, wrote in her blog that her husband is working on starting his own television and Internet ministry.

Church administrators hope Gebel's appeal to a younger audience will draw more members of the Orange County Hispanic community to the Crystal Cathedral, Nason said. In fact, word got out in the community even before an announcement went out and more than 1,000 people came to listen to Gebel during Sunday afternoon's Spanish service, he said.

"Only 300 people had come to our Spanish service the week before," he said.

Gebel was not available Wednesday, but said in a Cathedral-issued statement that he is looking forward to his new role.

"I'm sure that it will be a church with many young people where the families will receive a message of salvation, hope and faith," he said. "In addition we hope that many new people will come to know the Lord and that the church experiences a remarkable growth."

The Cathedral's Hispanic ministry began in 1990. Gebel succeeds Pastor Luis Lemos, who was among several Cathedral employees who were laid off late last year.

The Cathedral's Senior Pastor Juan Carlos Ortiz, also a native of Argentina, said Gebel will bring "his unique ministry skills to our ministry, having been reared in the new media era."

Gebel may also become a regular at the church's "Hour of Power" broadcast viewed by millions across the globe. The program has seen a nearly 30 percent drop in income since January.

Contact the writer: 949-553-2903 or dbharath@ocregister.com

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