In Subpoenaed Text, James MacDonald Admits Church Took Money From Harvest Bible Fellowship, But Admits No Fault

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Did Harvest Bible Chapel (HBC) steal money from Harvest Bible Fellowship (HBF)—its former church planting network of more than 150 independent churches?

This question has dogged the Chicago-area megachurch ever since Harvest pastor, and former president of HBF, James MacDonald, abruptly disbanded the fellowship in June 2017 amid accusations of self-dealing and financial mismanagement. Technically, the church couldn’t steal from the fellowship because even though HBF was a distinct 501c3, it was a subsidiary of Harvest and controlled by HBC’s elder board.

But to the independent HBF churches, which gave 5-percent of their annual contributions to the fellowship, there was an expectation that Harvest would use their money for church planting. The same went for two other groups that contributed to HBF. These included Harvest’s “40 Mighty Men,” a group of major donors who gave money to Harvest to accelerate church planting. Also contributing to HBF was the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). Harvest is a cooperating church within the SBC, as were some of its church plants.

Yet according to David Wisen, a former HBF pastor who participated in a financial review of HBF in 2017, Harvest inappropriately took at least $1.8 million dollars from the fellowship, which it has never repaid. This claim also has been reiterated by the Great Commission Collective—the church planting network formed by former HBF churches after the fellowship disbanded.

Harvest denies this charge. In its October 2017 elder update, the church instead says it went “‘the second mile’ in absorbing . . . all financial impact” related to the fellowship and its closing. Similarly, in an interview with WORLD Magazine last November, MacDonald and HBC Treasurer Jeff Smith said the claim that Harvest owed HBF $1.8 million was “inaccurate.”

Yet recently, I obtained a stunning text message from James MacDonald where he states the exact opposite.

“In the text, MacDonald admits that Harvest Bible Chapel charged HBF $300,000 – $350,000 more per year than was ‘reasonable’ for ‘shared services.’ . . . This means Harvest overcharged HBF between $1.5 million and $1.75 million for just ‘shared services.'”

The text was sent on October 23, 2018, to Scott Pierre, pastor of a former HBF church in Florida—and also David Wisen, who’s Pierre’s brother-in-law. (I obtained the text through a subpoena issued in defense of Harvest’s lawsuit against me, which it has since dropped.)

In the text, MacDonald admits that Harvest Bible Chapel charged HBF $300,000 – $350,000 more per year than was “reasonable” for “shared services.” These services included things like shared office space, and a portion of the salaries for several Harvest executives who allegedly did work for the fellowship.

According to a leaked letter from Wisen, Harvest charged the fellowship for these “shared services” for at least five years (from 2012-2016). This means Harvest overcharged HBF between $1.5 million and $1.75 million for just “shared services.”

But MacDonald’s text includes another surprising admission.

In it, he also admits that a church management systems upgrade—for which Harvest charged HBF $500,000—was “over priced and under advantaging to HBF churches.” This contradicts the October 2017 elder update, as well. It stated that the systems project “would benefit many (HBF) churches through an app,” which would provide “better-performing websites, and tablet assimilation.”

In an interview with me several weeks ago, Wisen said he doesn’t know of any HBF churches that received the promised app from Harvest. He added that MacDonald told pastors at a pastor’s retreat in February 2017, that Harvest would offer the systems upgrade and new app to HBF churches for free. Charging HBF for an upgrade that HBF churches didn’t approve, nor did they use, was misleading and wrong, Wisen said.

But MacDonald’s text includes yet another disturbing revelation—one that flies in the face of something else Jeff Smith and MacDonald asserted during their interview with WORLD. In that interview, Smith claimed that “all of (HBF’s) designated funds were properly disbursed in accordance with donor specification,” and confirmed in an audit by the accounting firm Capin Crouse.

Yet in MacDonald’s text sent just weeks before that interview, MacDonald admits that Harvest “used HBF money that was designated to cash flow other things.” He also admits that monies from HBF, 40 Mighty Men, and the Southern Baptist Convention “were not properly separated.”

As Wisen explains, this essentially is an admission that Harvest took money that donors had designated for specific purposes, put them into a common pot, and then disbursed them as the church saw fit, sometimes violating donor intent.  

I requested an interview with Capin Crouse to discuss how this could have happened without them noticing it, but the firm did not respond to my request.

Similarly, I reached out to Harvest for comment about the text thread. Spokesperson Sharon Kostal responded with a statement from Jeff Smith and Harvest’s Executive Committee of Elders. It said, “Pastor James was not involved with the decisions that led to this particular conflict. We are hopeful that in God’s time, the relationships between those on that text thread can be mended through the peacemaking process we are engaged in.”

“I do not acknowledge doing anything wrong . . .”

Harvest’s statement repeats what MacDonald claims in his text. That is, that MacDonald had no responsibility for the wrongdoing cited in his text, but instead, it was all the doing of former Harvest CFO Fred Adams and former Harvest COO Scott Milholland.

“I do not acknowledge doing anything wrong personally in the financial area—nothing,” MacDonald writes. 

MacDonald asserts that Adams and Milholland expanded shared services “without my knowledge prior to Brian White (former HBF interim director) telling me in March 2017.” MacDonald adds that Adams and Milholland “justified (expanding shared services) based upon what we were bringing in from SBC—but it was not justifiable.”

“(MacDonald) is like a mob boss. A mob boss never talks to anybody but his two or three guys. But no one ever talks to him directly.”

Similarly, MacDonald blames the systems expense on “Scott/Fred again taking advantage and answering to no one.” He also suggests that “a deceptive/criminally dishonest person” in Harvest’s information technologies department may have played a role. This likely is a reference to former CIO Jeff Parham, whom Harvest reported to authorities in October for allegedly embezzling at least $270,000 from the church.

I contacted Milholland for comment, but he said he couldn’t respond because of a non-disclosure agreement with Harvest. I also emailed Adams, but he did not respond. 

However, when I asked Brian White, now executive director of GCC, about MacDonald’s claim, he said, “I can’t in my mind think of anything happening at Harvest Bible Chapel on that level without James knowing it. . . . This is James. ‘I don’t have any responsibility. I throw people under the bus.’”

Similarly, Bob Langdon, who served as finance director of HBF, said MacDonald controlled all the money for the fellowship, but did it indirectly through Fred Adams. “Fred was set up to be that insulator,” Langdon said. “(MacDonald) is like a mob boss. A mob boss never talks to anybody but his two or three guys. But no one ever talks to him directly.”

MacDonald’s assertion that two or three rogue employees spent HBF money independent of any oversight is yet another assertion that directly contradicts Harvest’s October 2017 elder update. The update claimed that “all monies given by HBF churches” were “spent according to Elder-approved budgets.”

Similarly, during the interview with WORLD, Smith said the finance committee, which Smith chairs, went over “every item in the budget,” which was then approved by the elder board.

However, Earl Seals, a former Harvest elder who participated in HBF’s financial review, said that’s not true. Seals said that during the financial review, he privately asked Smith how he could have allowed HBF money to be spent so irresponsibly. Seals said Smith responded that he didn’t know about the egregious expenditures. Seals said he was shocked by Smith’s response because the elders trusted Smith to oversee HBF spending.

Seals said he intended to report what he had discovered at the HBF financial review during the following elder board meeting. However, right before he walked into the meeting, Seals said Elder Steve Huston told him not to share anything about the financial review with the other elders—none of whom had participated in the review. (Seals said Smith was absent.)

Even so, Seals said he told the other elders that the review had shown that much of HBF’s spending was “unwise.” But before he could say anything more, Seals said he was shut down and then the elders then conveyed to the church that everything was okay. Seals resigned from the board shortly afterwards because to remain would require “endorsing falsehood.”

Donors Feel Betrayed

In his text, MacDonald confronted both Pierre and Wisen for not supporting him throughout the HBF financial debacle. He specifically blamed Wisen for appearing at the 2017 HBF financial review as “an interrogator antagonist when he promised to come as an advocate.”

MacDonald calls the silence of both men in the face of accusations against him “a betrayal so large as to dwarf all others over 35 years of ministry combined.”

However, Wisen said he came to the review as neither antagonist nor advocate. He came as a neutral investigator, trying to determine the facts. He added that he didn’t betray MacDonald; MacDonald and Harvest betrayed their donors.

In addition to the items already mentioned, Wisen said he learned during the review that Harvest had not been contributing five-percent of its contributions to HBF like all the other HBF churches did. Wisen said when he confronted MacDonald, MacDonald claimed that Harvest’s doesn’t have to give five-percent of its contributions to HBF, but instead could use money from 40 Mighty Men or SBC to satisfy its obligation.

“They say they’re being generous when they’re actually stealing . . . At least when you’re being mugged, there’s some integrity between you and the guy who’s robbing you that you’re being robbed.”

Wisen, who is an heir to the fortune of the late Robert Van Kampen, was one of the 40 Mighty Men donors. He said he gave to 40 Mighty Men because Harvest promised the money would be used to accelerate church planting, and give more financial support to church planting pastors. He said using this money instead to offset Harvest’s giving to HBF was a violation of that promise.

Similarly, Seals, another 40 Mighty Men donor, said he was offended by how Harvest spent his money too. He said he was stunned to learn that $500,000 he gave to build a pastoral retreat center at Camp Harvest in Michigan was actually used to build a “training center” that was hardly ever used.

Wisen said in total, Harvest spent about $2 million of HBF money on that training center, but did so without even informing HBF pastors. Harvest also obligated HBF to lease the training center to the church for $10 a year and was using HBF funds to pay all the building’s utilities. Yet, when Camp Harvest rented the building to outside groups, the rental income went to Harvest, not HBF.  

“They say they’re being generous when they’re actually stealing,” Wisen said of Harvest. He compared his experience with the church to that of being mugged and added, “At least when you’re being mugged, there’s some integrity between you and the guy who’s robbing you that you’re being robbed. But at Harvest, they don’t even have that baseline integrity to admit that’s what they’re doing.”

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108 thoughts on “In Subpoenaed Text, James MacDonald Admits Church Took Money From Harvest Bible Fellowship, But Admits No Fault”

  1. This is why I resigned and left Harvest in 2017. The level of deciet and lack of integrity at the highest levels of leadership sickened me.
    I spoke to Pastors and Elders about these very things, and it was ignored.
    So glad to see the truth exposed.
    I pray for healing and the future of HBC without The Mob boss.

    1. Member on the way out

      You are such a man of integrity, Jim. When you left, I knew something must be off. Thank you for speaking out when it would have been much easier to stay quiet.

    2. While you may be right about some of that Jim, are you so sure you are above reproach? Were you ever authoritarian?See Matthew 7:3, Proverbs 18:17 as well as the verses in Concerned comments below. And when the mediator you chose told you, “you rushed to judgement didn’t you ignore it? Some of this abuse took place while I was grieving the loss of a loved one.

    3. My reply accidentally got into the next one. It was for you Jim. I tried to be gentle. An accusation hardens the heart but a ? pricks the conscience.

  2. When is this all going to end? It’s time to bring integrity back, well wait a minute from all I have read I don’t think integrity was ever at the top level of Harvest to begin with. You can’t restore what we never there before, it’s time say no more and bring in the bull dozers.

  3. It’s time for the MacDonalds to step down, along with the Elders. The fact that all this happened for so long in full view, with elders either supporting or ignoring it, disqualifies all of them.

    The only way forward for Harvest is to repent, for all those involved to resign, and for the congregation to reconstitute itself with a structure of accountability and a new start under God-fearing and God-honoring leadership.

    1. May I inquire, if you are calling on James Macdonald to repent why does he also need to resign? Wouldn’t church discipline simply desire the repentance?

      1. He’s a pastor, he is held to a different standard to remain a pastor. He can repent and be welcomed back as a regular church member, but completely disqualified from leading a church. 1 Timothy 3: 1-7, Titus 1: 5-9.

        1. “Concerned” Please explain Philippians 1:15-18.
          15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.

          Please prove that Pastor James corrupted the Gospel and taught heresy.

          1. Don, several years ago at a meeting of Harvest men called by Pastor James, he told us that he wanted to include T. D. Jakes among gatherings of Christian leaders. At the same time he ADMITTED TO US that T. D. had not yet embraced the concept of the Trinity; rather, James was excited that T. D. was in his opinion coming closer to abandoning modalism (by the way, modalism rejects Trinitarian doctrine and is, therefore, heresy). He admitted to us that the Elders were divided as to whether or not to include T. D., but that he was going to move forward with the inclusion of T. D. as a ‘Christian leader.’ To hold a modalist up to the Body of Christ as a Christian, while admitting that the man did not believe in the Trinity, was itself heresy. I knew then and there that I could not continue attending where leadership was heretical.

          2. He should feel free to preach the gospel as we all should, though not sure he can be taken seriously at this point. I don’t think you grasp the depths of his issues. The Bible is clear about overseers/elders for a reason, to prevent the disaster that we are seeing unfold before our eyes. Same thing with not suing fellow believers, look what it did. How could you say his behavior would allow him to oversee a church. As far as “preaching, I can’t take a hypocrite seriously – but maybe that’s just me

          3. Paul was talking in terms of people that were targeting him and trying to discredit him personally. Go back and read that again from the beginning. Paul would in no way be ok with a pastor preaching to deceive and take advantage of his whole congregation. That’s why there are so many verses on instruction of the qualifications of elders, how to deal with wayward men of God!

      2. James MacDonald is not qualified to be a pastor. I can’t imagine he’s qualified to be entrusted with any kind of responsibility whatsoever. He is not trustworthy.

      3. In 2011 evidence pointed to the mismanagement of HBC’s finances forcing the church into more debt and has continued to do so, without repentance. With him being on the Elder board there wasn’t much they could do to control the situation. I thought all monies collected needed to be earmarked for its intended use and has to be used for that use only.

  4. Harvest is a Criminal Organization

    Harvest / MacDonald / Elders = Thieves, Liars, Backstabbers, Frauds, Sons of Satan, Conspirators, Criminals, Pigs, Limp-wristed Wolves.

    Every single one of them.

  5. Burned in Deerfield

    Fake “Elder” Mike Collett:

    Do you allow your venture capital partners and investors to be defrauded and lied to and scammed (as stated above) in the same manner as the church flock you pretend to oversee? Didn’t think so. Just the people and donors of Harvest are permitted to be financially raped and pillaged?

    “A mob/criminal organization.” Even the *insiders* call it this. Did you smile when you read that? You “oversee” that; you know what that makes *you,* right?

    Give up the “Peacemaking” total BS scam. Resign. Repent. Get saved. And recuse yourself from any church leadership role ever again.

  6. We were 12-year members at Harvest Bible Chapel, Niles Campus. We know (and love) Jim Rowan, who has commented here.

    Like many others, we were highly motivated by the vision & mission Harvest Bible Fellowship and gave generously to it. That James MacDonald treated HBF funds as his own piggy bank is outrageous, regardless of whether he can be prosecuted for crimes under the law. I believe there is precedent for a class-action lawsuit for this kind of misappropriation of funds. We would gladly join such a suit.

    Let’s also remember that James used at least $200,000 from Walk in the Word funds to start and maintain a white-tail deer herd on the Camp Harvest property in Michigan. Moreover, this is the same man who is largely responsible for the nearly $70 million in debt that HBC took on (which now stands at ~$40 million).

    James MacDonald, his sons Luke & Landon, ALL of the current HBC Elders, and the member of the Executive Leadership Team MUST resign NOW.

  7. I remember this pastor dude always preachin bout “secret sins”.
    Perhaps he’s losin his cabbage or his eggs are boilin.
    Enough. So sick bout readin his frowlicks. The dude should not pastor anymore. Perhaps we should start prayin for him to be born again. All those preachin messages I listened to. All those books I read.
    The dude is a phony. Like a three dollar bill.
    Did anyone find out the truth to why Stowell left preachin & pastorin there??

  8. I want to write something about being unfaithful with little and being unfaithful with much, but I’m preaching to the choir.

  9. You people have no idea.

    All of this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you really knew how much money the MacDonald mob family and their inner circle fixers and bag men and elders have siphoned off over **’the decades ** it would literally blow your mind. Satan himself could not have orchestrated a better theft.

    When it comes to bleeding Christ’s family dry, wringing out every last sheckle, James MacDonald & Co. are insatiable. And quite proficient at it. PT Barnum was an amateur compared to MacDonald. (Though the similarities are quite fascinating and worthy of study.)

    May God have mercy on all of their souls.

    1. HBC Rogue Insider

      You are so right! The deeper you get into the “inside circle” of James MacDonald, the sicker you see it is. The things that Julie has reported are NOT EVEN CLOSE to the WORST! I’ve seen and heard so much worse!

      James is a complete FRAUD! He is mean, vindictive, vulgar, petty, greedy, violent, angry, unloving, unforgiving…the list goes on and on! He lies so often, he doesn’t even know the truth anymore!

      The best and only option for HBC is for ALL of the MacDonalds to be run out of town! And the Executive Committee Elders and XLT needs to follow them! HBC must be broken up into separate independent churches with local pastors and elders. They must open up ALL of the records and confess ALL of the sins!

      It is the ONLY way!

    2. To the Harvest insiders on this site: If you have direct knowledge of criminal activity and eyewitness accounts you have a duty to report this to the police. The FBI has already been notified. The more people that notify the authorities the more eyebrows will be raised and an investigation can begin.

  10. The mafia deals in fear

    Fear that stems from Examples of physical brutality and murder

    James McDonald is a fraud. In the world of gangsters he couldn’t hold Al Capone drivers jock

    Everyone needs to wake up and realize that what you are afraid of… The only fear the James’ trades in.. Is based on lies…

    He is a nobody.. In the world of street gangs hes what they call a story book gangster

    He has no clout on the street. The only place James McDonald has gangster like influence is in the Hearts and minds of the christians that he has scammed and Spiritually abused

    He ripped everyone off publicly
    He Messed with everyone’s faith publicly
    He has slandered and defamed the name of Christ publicly.

    The whole story must be told publicly.. The only thing stopping you, if you have information about the depths of this evil man’s deeds is yourself.. You have already weathered the worst of what this Fake profit James McDonald can do to u

    Call him out.. No condemnation necessary Christian brothers and sisters.. The truth will do all of the Condemning work for us..

    Its Sick

    James is still banking on the depth of spiritual abuse that he has perpetrated in our lifes to stop us from calling out the worst of what hes done

    FIGHT BACK.. FINISH THE RACE..

  11. Mancow Mueller just announced that James, Luke, Landon and Rick Donald are all gone and this will be announced this coming weekend?

    I do not believe it. Controlling narcissistic people do not walk away – they might pretend to walk away, but this is just unbelievable so far.

    1. I thought I saw a tweet the other day that there was a hastily call emergency meeting I think on Tuesday this week

    2. You are right about narcissists not walking away. There’s a part of me that thinks and hopes a few elders lit the by-laws on fire in front of the Executive Committee and said, “look at me… I am the captain now.” There are all kinds of ways insiders could further embarrass the MacDonalds and reveal more stuff, but that might be (or ‘might have been’) the only way to fire James. Hey, at this point……

    3. They are partially responsible for the debt. They can’t just freely walk away.
      L and L might have been blind to their dad’s faults but Rick Donald was his right hand man from the start and is responsible as James MacD. Shouldn’t he have been confronting him?

      I wonder if Harvest leadership will blame Julie Roys and others?

  12. There are smaller churches that operate just like the larger ones. Particularly in the African American Community where vast networks of Churches have only one individual who controls EVERYTHING and virtually EVERYONE. And he is called PASTOR. I know. I belong to one.

  13. Ok I’ve sounded on this before and I will keep saying it. Some of you are getting closer to how bad this really is but so far only Randy Williams has hit the nail on the head. You guys are saying this is only the tip of the iceberg and you are correct. Again, let me be very clear. Harvest is NOT a church. It is a CULT. Yes, that is what I said. It is a CULT. I know that is hard to accept especially for some of us that have been committed for years. I strongly suggest you guys go back and read the Elephant’s Debt post titled “deer in the headlights or divided board? Pay attention the the comment raised about Harvest being a cult. I was sucked into a cult in my early 20’s at the lowest part of my life. The first symptom you will discover once you’ve been been “deprogrammed” by the truth (Julie Roys you have no idea how many people are being spared by your work and thank you!) is complete shock and denial. Why is that? Well nobody can believe that it could happen to THEM! It’s very important to TALK about it in order to recover. Yes even people at Niles have been brainwashed. Again read the post I mentioned above and research it with cult experts/FBI and piece it together. Start to think ON YOUR OWN, CRITICALLY.

    1. You are right on, except. Except Randy Williams was and for very long time a part of the cult, a propagator of the cult. Randy Williams was one of the most gullible goons of guru MacDonald and only recently woke up and pierced his slimy cocoon.

      Now, what we really need is the same happening with Jeff Smith, the purse holder and overseer of all financial and sinister maleficence of MacDonald clan Inc.

  14. Incredibly sad… I literally feel sick with the revelation about HBC.and fellowship.. Just another indication how satan works to deceive and destroy….. this is the time and season we are living in… we must use great wisdom and discernment ….. and pray for the Holy Spirit to be at work within ourselves and our churches…. what appears to be definitely missing in JM is the fruit of the spirit…. we should definitely see these qualities in our church leadership and if it is not present something is wrong…..
    May God guide this fellowship and church on the road ahead and may Christ be exalted in all people as you seek a new road and path forward for the sake of the ONE who laid down his life for each one of us….

  15. Burned in Deerfield

    If Mancow’s just-tweeted update is accurate, it’s on to Round 2…

    One:

    Mike Collett and every other fake Harvest elder must also immediately resign.

    This THREE DECADE OLD con, heist, and absolute sh*tshow did not happen in a vacuum. Each and every one of them are either guilty of the gross support-MacDonald sin of commission, or omission. Doesn’t matter, each is a gross immorality. They gotta go. Now.

    Two:

    MacDonald & His Departing Little Band of Thieves must be prevented from setting up a new con and grift shop somewhere else. They have done more than enough damage to Christ’s Kingdom. This must end here.

  16. Wow! Don ERacer…..you need to go back and look at all the scripture you have been posting and read it in context. Please stop using God’s Word to fit your views and thought life. You have pointed the finger at many people in a negative and condescending way. Please focus on God and realize that James MacDonald is human and can fail. This is not how a biblical church should be run. God is Truth and Love. He is also the God of order and as far as I can see, none of these things are happening within the leadership. It breaks my heart.

  17. God is still on the throne

    I compare the Harvest collapse to the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York. Everyone saw the planes fly through the two towers, which left a gapping and glaring hole. If you recall, the towers did not immediately fall after the initial hit. The hit did so much damage, slowly burning and weakening the foundations of the building. Then merely hours later, once the towers fell, they fell immediately in a cloud of dust and debris that could be seen from miles away. You may also recall that there were also smaller surrounding buildings that also collapsed as a result of the attack. Even though they were not “directly” hit by the planes, they were victim of collateral and irreparable damage.

    So, where are the parallels with the Twin Towers terrorist attack and the Harvest Bible Chapel debacle? The initial “hit” to Harvest Bible Chapel that has left a gapping and glaring hole has been the exposure of hypocrisy, fraud, bullying, lack of transparency, authoritarian leadership and fiscal mismanagement of James MacDonald, elders, pastors and leadership. Much of this “hit” has been a result of the ongoing reporting by the Elephant’s Debt and more recently by Julie Roys. Just as the twin towers instantly fell down in a matter of seconds after burning and weakening the foundations for a number of hours, so will the organization called Harvest Bible Chapel. Harvest will fall and collapse under its’ own weight of lies, deceit, fraud and debt.

    If it is true as it has been reported that James MacDonald will be resigning or fired after this weekend, the remaining elders and leadership have an almost insurmountable task facing them if any vestige of Harvest Bible Chapel is to remain. Here are some thoughts for the elders and leaders at Harvest to consider:

    1. Complete and unadulterated transparency. No more spin. No more euphemistic language. NO MORE LIES. The Harvest Bible Chapel Board of Elders need to completely and wholly be transparent about the events and actions that led to this debacle. It is neither loving or protective of the congregation to withhold all details of sin, lies, deceit, fraud and mismanagement. If the elders are sincere in being transparent, then share all the good, bad and ugly (warts and all) of this situation. Anything less than full transparency by the elders will only solidify what many believe to be true, which is their own complicity and duplicity in these matters.

    2. Removal of key pastors, elders and leaders that have been and continue to be complicit in this scandal. Specifically, all pastors and elders that pledged unequivocal loyalty and allegiance to James MacDonald should either make the right decision and “Resign” or be “Removed”. If they fall into this category, they have either sinned by “commission” or “omission” or both. Either way, there is no path for them to remain in any type of leadership position at Harvest.

    3. New Elder Board and Leadership. Let’s wipe the slate clean in an orderly fashion. All current elders, in a systematic and orderly fashion begin to roll off the elder board. We can no longer have elders that have been complicit in action or silence remain on the board. New elders need to be in place and will have voting power. Existing elders that will be rolling off can serve only to provide any history or information for the new elder board. They would have no authority in future decision-making. All existing campus pastors and key leaders need to be re-vetted if they are found worthy to remain in a pastoral or leadership position. Any pastor or leader found to be actively complicit in the deceit, fraud and financial mismanagement of the current demise of Harvest Bible Chapel should be immediately dismissed with no severance compensation.

    4. Discontinue the role and function of the Executive Committee and XLT. Equal voice and vote for all members of the Elder Board and not by a few hand picked ‘yes men”. The Senior Pastor (or his sons) do not hold any type of “veto” power over the elder board.

    5. Complete transparency of the budget. No more “Black Budgets” and “Pie Charts” that lack transparency or accountability. The budget, which includes all salaries, benefits, expense accounts are posted and available for the congregation to see. I would add that the elders should go back and share all the financial information and dealings of the church since its’ inception back to 1988.

    6. Launch and cooperate with a full investigation. A full and complete investigation of any fraud or fiscal mismanagement should be initiated and reported to local, state or federal authorities. If it is determined that a fraud has been committed, the elders should pursue full restitution by those that have defrauded the church. There should be no concern of pursuing a lawsuit, as we have precedence to do so. I recently read an article on why it’s ok and justifiable to sue other Christians.

    7. Comprehensive Fiscal Audit. Someone other than Capin Crouse or ECFA. Need I say more?

    8. Stop building/adding on and planting more churches. The church is carrying at least $42 million in debt, with a rapidly declining church attendance, which translates to a decline in giving. Harvest will not be able afford and maintain their current facilities under the current conditions, so building and adding new church plants will only accelerate the almost inevitable closing of Harvest Bible Chapel.

    9. Consolidate campuses and streamline personnel. The greatest expenses in an organization are in places and people. It’s time to close some of the 8 campuses and consolidate down to 1 or the most 2. Sell off or liquidate unused and costly facilities and put that towards existing debt. Harvest has endorsed Dave Ramsey and his “Peace University” and I am sure that Dave Ramsey would support this type of action. In closing church plants, you will not have the need for all the extra personnel. Harvest will literally save millions of dollars in salaries, insurance and fringe benefits. In consolidating campuses, you will also save millions of dollars in maintenance and upkeep costs.

    10. Sell off and eliminate all non-essentials ministries and take proceeds and apply to the debt. As difficult as it may be to stomach the idea for some, but Harvest Christian Academy(HCA) must close at the end of this school year. It is not self-sustaining ministry that can be funded through tuition alone. HCA is being subsidized in part through the tithes and offerings of the congregation. The savings from the closing HCA could also reach millions of dollars, which should be applied to existing debt. In addition, HCA takes up half of the office building in Elgin. Once you close HCA, find a company or companies to rent out the office space. Funds generated through the renting should be applied to existing debt. Harvest Bible Chapel should close and sell off Camp Harvest in Newaygo, Michigan. Needless to say, there is no need to be building new training centers or maintain Freedom House or for White Tail Deer Herds for crying out loud. All proceeds of sale of property should be applied to existing debt. Harvest Bible Chapel can still provide a camp experience to children by sending them to other Christian Camps in Michigan or Wisconsin. It is not a crazy idea, as many if not most churches do this.

    11. Close Vertical Worship Band. This must be disbanded (excuse the pun) immediately. No more tours and recording fees etc. In the past, Harvest Bible Chapel produced CD’s, which were live recordings of worship. Yes, it would maybe not to the level that we have now with Vertical Worship, but under the circumstances a needed action. Take all funds saved and apply to existing debt.

    12. Close Vertical Church planting/Mission Harvest. Besides the obvious cost savings associated with maintaining this ministry, should Harvest Bible Chapel on any spiritual or moral ground continue trying to replicate the deception, corruption, fraud and mismanagement to other churches? Needless to say, all funds saved in closing Vertical Church planting/Mission Harvest should be applied to existing debt.

    In my opinion, even if these 12 recommendations were enacted, I am still not sure that Harvest Bible Chapel will survive. I have no desire to see the fall of Harvest. I fully understand the seriousness and implications of making these recommendations. At the same time, I also understand the seriousness and implications if we continue along the path that we are currently on. Yes, we might lose some good people. Yes, we may have to temporarily or permanently discontinue some current ministries. This would be sad in some cases, but in some cases it may be a blessing. If Harvest Bible Chapel is to survive, drastic and courageous decisions need to be made. Harvest needs to be rebuilt on the True Foundation, which is Christ and not the house of cards that is collapsing under the weight of sin, deceit, fraud and debt.

    I end this post with the following verses:
    “Remove far from me falsehood and lying; give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with the food that is needful for me, lest I be full and deny you and say, “Who is the LORD?” or lest I be poor and steal and profane the name of my God.” Proverbs 30:8-9 (ESV)

  18. Don, why are you choosing to be quarrelsome? You yourself apologized to Julie for your words, asked her forgiveness and said you would repent.

    What if it is not Julie, yet the LORD and the HOLY SPIRIT who are exposing this matter so that Pastor James and Harvest can repent?

    It’s perhaps the Lord’s great mercy being shown to James that he may yet repent of the deep-seated fear and pride that has caused this mess…a chance for Mercy before judgement.

    When I happened to sit by Pastor James’s tanks at a restaurant this past summer, I sought God’s voice on what to pray, and it was that James would repent of his pride.

    I think the Lord is calling those affected by what’s going on at Harvest to read Ezekiel 34, 35, 36, and 37.

    Through Ezekiel, the Lord called out the great corruption happening in Israel. The Lord would judge there. But He also said that He would make a covenant with His human sheep in of His pasture. (Ez 34:25, 31) and to restore the Valley of Dry Bones that was the House of Israel.

    “Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: As I live, declares the Lord God, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep,

    Thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them.”
    ‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭34:7-8, 10‬ ‭ESV‬‬
    https://bible.com/59/ezk.34.7-8,10.esv

    “”As for you, my flock, thus says the Lord God: Behold, I judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and male goats. Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet? And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet? “Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them: Behold, I, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you push with side and shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns, till you have scattered them abroad, I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep. And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd.”
    ‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭34:17-23‬ ‭ESV‬‬
    https://bible.com/59/ezk.34.17-23.esv

    The Father’s mercy is not beyond fat sheep. Or Dry Bones.

    Read Ezekiel 34-37.
    Heed the Word of the Lord.

  19. It’s perhaps the Lord’s great mercy being shown to James that he may yet repent of the deep-seated fear and pride that has caused this mess…a chance for Mercy before judgement.

    When I happened to sit by Pastor James’s tanks at a restaurant this past summer, I sought God’s voice on what to pray, and it was that James would repent of his pride.

    I think the Lord is calling those affected by what’s going on at Harvest to read Ezekiel 34, 35, 36, and 37.

    Through Ezekiel, the Lord called out the great corruption happening in Israel. The Lord would judge there. But He also said that He would make a covenant with His human sheep in of His pasture. (Ez 34:25, 31) and to restore the Valley of Dry Bones that was the House of Israel.

    “Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: As I live, declares the Lord God, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep,

    Thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them.”
    ‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭34:7-8, 10‬ ‭ESV‬‬
    https://bible.com/59/ezk.34.7-8,10.esv

    “”As for you, my flock, thus says the Lord God: Behold, I judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and male goats. Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet? And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet? “Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them: Behold, I, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. Because you push with side and shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns, till you have scattered them abroad, I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep. And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd.”
    ‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭34:17-23‬ ‭ESV‬‬
    https://bible.com/59/ezk.34.17-23.esv

    The Father’s mercy is not beyond fat sheep. Or Dry Bones.

    Read Ezekiel 34-37.
    Heed the Word of the Lord.

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