Trinity Backs Out of Easter Service

LA Times/February 6, 2002
By Eric Malnic

Despite having won a bitter dispute with the toss of a coin, the flamboyant Trinity Broadcast Network is abandoning its plans to produce and televise this year's Easter sunrise service at the Hollywood Bowl, an attorney said Tuesday.

"They dropped it because of the public outcry," said Gerald Manpearl, an attorney representing Hollywood Bowl Easter Sunrise Service Inc., which says its predecessors initiated the annual service 80 years ago.

"People were outraged," Manpearl said. "The service is part of the long history of Los Angeles and Hollywood. Trinity has demonstrated in the past that what they put on isn't a community event, it's for Trinity." Elizabeth Hinckley, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Assn., which handles Hollywood Bowl leases for the county, confirmed that Trinity had dropped out.

She said the veteran Bowl group apparently will now produce this year's event.

Questions to Trinity were referred to Colby May, an attorney in Washington.

May's family declined to call him to the phone Tuesday night.

A squabble between the Orange County television ministry and the Los Angeles civic group had raged for months over rights to produce this year's service.

Trinity said it had been unfairly excluded from past sunrise services, but the Los Angeles group said Los Angeles County had pledged to lease the bowl to the group each Easter for a token payment of $l.

The group said the agreement was good for 99 years and was renewable.

But county officials said they could find no records of such an agreement.

The officials said a lottery was the only fair way to settle the dispute, and ordered the coin toss.

On Jan. 25, the coin was tossed by William Jacobs, an auditor for an accounting firm hired by the Philharmonic Assn. Trinity won.

But Hollywood Bowl Easter Sunrise Service vowed to carry on the fight.

"This is not the end," Norma Foster, president of the group, said after the coin toss. "We'll battle on behalf of the people of Los Angeles."

Attorneys for the group vowed to seek an injunction that would prevent Trinity from taking over. Now, apparently, that court action, scheduled for today, will not be necessary.

Many have criticized Trinity's glitzy sets, extravagant on-air personalities and the lifestyles of network founders Paul and Jan Crouch.

The Crouches drive expensive cars and own several homes, including a Newport Beach estate reported to be worth $5 million.

According to year 2000 tax documents, Trinity Christian Center of Santa Ana, which oversees a network of Trinity Broadcasting organizations and overseas ventures, had $444 million in net assets.

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