(myCommunity.com) Harvest Bible Chapel, James MacDonald under scrutiny for an alleged culture of intimidation, fear and suspicious financial activities; the church denies. A prominent evangelical mega church in the Chigaco area is under scrutiny for an alleged culture of intimidation, fear and suspicious financial activities, allegations that the church says are an unfair attack by a journalist with an "unhealthy fixation."
Harvest Bible Chapel, which has several campuses in the Chicago area, was the subject of an eight-month investigation by the former host and author of Moody Radio, Julie Roys, who published her findings in the latest issue of the magazine WORLD.
His report detailed the actions of former elders who believed that long-time pastor James MacDonald was not fit to serve any longer in light of New Testament requirements to be an elder or pastor. At 2013, eight of them wrote a letter describing how MacDonald loved and mismanaged money, harassed people and was known for his "abusive speeches," "outbursts of anger," and making misleading statements.
This set in motion a dispute that garnered notable press coverage at that time. MacDonald finally apologized for the harsh way in which the church leadership had disciplined three of those eight former elders and those three elders accepted his apology in exchange for leaving the church alone and allowing the current elders to reform the ministry. However, now these three elders and others say they believe that reforms have not been implemented and that the culture of abusive treatment and turbid financial activity has continued.
Writing in your blog on Tuesday, Roys continued, citing Randy Williams, a current HBC elder and former president of the church's executive committee - a group of a few elders and MacDonald making financial and legal decisions for the church - who said in November Text message from 2017 to a pastor at an Independent Harvest Bible chapel in Indianapolis who was being challenged from the EC activities and the leadership team because MacDonald and the leading leaders are conducting themselves with "deception and manipulation", and are trying to "Direct a cult and control the masses".
"I do not see anything less than an exhibition in the public media that puts James [MacDonald] on his knees," Williams concludes.
The statutes of Harvest state that the executive committee has the "sole responsibility" to approve the annual budget and the salaries of MacDonald and the management.
Two other pastors linked once with HBC: David Wisen, teaching pastor at Harvest Bible Chapel Spring Lake, and Bill Borinstein, former pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel North Phoenix, also express in a separate thread of text from July 2017 their concerns about how the church's affairs are running and about MacDonald's ongoing patterns of behavior.
Roys obtained those words through a subpoena in defense of a lawsuit that Harvest filed against her weeks before her investigation report was published.
She explains that in recent years, the church placed under its authority independent nonprofits such as the MacDonald radio broadcast called "Walk in the Word" and the now dissolved church planting network, Harvest Bible Fellowship, which allows the exchange of funds between them.
A audit of 2017 revealed that when HBF was dissolved, the church used $ 1 million Walk in the Word to cover its responsibilities. Harvest also used Walk in the Word money to pay for the creation of a "herd of white-tailed deer trophy fences" at Camp Harvest, a year-round church facility in Newaygo, Michigan.
"According to a Harvest website published on October 30, people can hunt at the camp for $ 6,000- $ 8,000 per deer, and the proceeds will go to a Camp Harvest scholarship fund," Roys said.
The church acknowledged in a statement that Walk in the Word pays the camp "a small annual maintenance fee for food, etc." for the pack "as a gift of thanks to the church."
Roys' chronic reports indicate that Harvest's leadership expelled the children from the church school when his father did not agree to sign a "no contest" agreement, an agreement not to plant a church less than 50 miles of the campus. He also highlighted how the church allegedly kept the 20 percent of the budget secret, including payment to MacDonald and his children, and how he built a large new house with luxury items, including a ten-car garage, while maintaining the House was under 5,000 square feet.
The exact value of the house is disputed. MacDonald says that his house was valued at $ 1.4 million, an 2017 tax bill from Kane Co. listed the market value at $ 2.1 million, and Borinstein estimated in the text thread that the house has a value of $ 4- 5 million.
The Evangelical Council of Financial Responsibility, however, is defending the harvest. In a statement published in the site From HBC, it was noted that the council visited the 10 church in December and examined the accusations against the church regarding its transmission and church planting entities.
"As part of their ongoing compliance review process, ECFA staff was present at the Harvest Bible Chapel earlier this month. Of particular interest was the church's compliance with ECFA Standard 6, Establishment of Compensation and Transactions with related parties. "The Chapel of the Harvest Bible fully complies with each of the ECFA's seven responsible management standards and remains a member in good standing with the ECFA," the statement reads.
This week, it was announced in SBC Voices that MacDonald is retiring from the upcoming Pastors Conference of the Southern Baptist Convention and also renouncing all commitments of external speeches.
In a declaration MacDonald argued that the history of the world was a sordid resurgence of opinions of some "disgruntled ex-members".
"Harvest Bible Chapel has been responsible for their mistakes and has striven to become a happier and healthier church, whose members were recently engaged - financially, in their walk / work for Christ, and in their promise to share Christ with others - at unprecedented levels. The anticipated attack that comes with the advancement of the kingdom of God has come, unfortunately, not from those in the world but from other professing Christians, "he said.
"We have chosen the main road and we have refused to participate in public attacks against people with whom we have once served closely, who seem unable to 'let go', even after all these years. The Elders are aware of many private people full of grace. the attempts at reconciliation, extended in the hope that these unhappy Christians will find peace. "
CP approached MacDonald on Tuesday, asking him specifically about his decision to withdraw from the CBS pastors' conference and external speeches and comments on the threads that Roys published on Tuesday.
A church spokesman responded in an email Wednesday that MacDonald "has been praying for a while about limiting his trip and speaking outside of Harvest. He felt guided by the Lord to go ahead and do it for a while. That prayer preceded the recent events. "
The elders of the HBC issued their own statements on Tuesday, defending MacDonald, the board of elders and their actions. They believe that Roys is attacking the board of elders, has an "unhealthy fixation" with Harvest, and is trying to prove that MacDonald does not submit to the authority of the Elders and has no responsibility, something they insist is "false" .
The statement from the man on Tuesday also states that Randy Williams is not the man they know who said what he did in the threads that Roys published and that has not been available to them.
"If Randy Williams was secretly antagonistic about the health of our collective government, none of us knew it. We offer you the grace that we all need in the context of unfortunate words or actions. Love encourages us to believe that he regrets it. " words, "says the statement.
"Based on what is known about his love for our church and Pastor James, we believe he must have read what Julie Roys published and felt devastated. Love compels us to believe the best; If that is not the case, of course we will know each other here ".
HBC filed an emergency motion in court, an order of protection on Friday to seal all documents cited by Roy, which the judge denied on Tuesday morning. Then they presented a regular motion that will be heard in January.
Roys' lawyer, Charles L. Philbrick, confirmed in a brief telephone interview with The Christian Post on Wednesday that Roys was not legally required to maintain the confidentiality of the specific text messages he posted.