Chairman of Harvest’s Elder Board Resigns; Executive Committee to Resign Soon

By Julie Roys

Admitting that they had “collectively failed” to oversee the church properly, the five-member executive committee of elders at Harvest Bible Chapel tonight announced that they will all be resigning over the next few months and a replacement executive committee will be put in place.

Also today, Ron Duitsman—a member of the executive committee and chairman of the larger 34-member elder board—announced his resignation in an email, which was sent to elders and eventually leaked to me.

The announcement concerning the executive committee—the group that makes all the financial and legal decisions for the church—was read by Executive Elder William Sperling to a packed crowd at Harvest’s Rolling Meadows campus. However, no mention was made of Duitsman’s resignation.

At the service, Sperling said the past week had been “without a question one of the most difficult weeks in the history of our church.”

“Sperling said the past week had been ‘without a question one of the most difficult weeks in the history of our church.'”

On Tuesday, the elders fired Harvest founding pastor, James MacDonald, for “engaging in conduct that the Elders believe is contrary and harmful to the best interests of the church.” According to a statement posted to Harvest’s website, the decision was “accelerated” after Chicago radio and TV personality, Mancow Muller, aired vulgar and defamatory comments by MacDonald on his radio show.

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Sperling admitted that over the years, various former elders, staff, and members of the church had complained about James MacDonald’s behavior and “its overall effect on Harvest’s culture.” He added that “part of the complexity” concerning the elders response to those complaints was MacDonald’s occasional willingness to submit to increased accountability.

However, Sperling said in the past several weeks, the elders had concluded that MacDonald’s behavior was not “above reproach.” Instead, Sperling said MacDonald exhibited “a sinful pattern of inappropriate language, anger and domineering behavior.”

Sperling admitted that the elders had not provided the necessary “direction, discipline and response time” regarding MacDonald and asked for the congregation’s forgiveness. He also said that he and the other members of the executive committee would resign.

An earlier draft of the elders’ announcement, which was leaked to me early this morning, called on the elder board to be reduced to 17 over the next few months. Tonight, Sperling said the board’s large size was a problem, and said there would be changes regarding the “composition and structure of the full elder board.” But he didn’t specify what those would be.

The earlier draft also called on the entire board of more than 30 elders to resign by the end of 2019. However, in Duitsman’s email, he said he felt that having all the elders resign seemed tantamount to punishing everyone “for the acts of someone who was our spiritual leader and was misleading us in a very unqualifying way.”

“Duitsman’s email also revealed a very divided board, noting that some elders ‘refuse to come under the authority of the Elder Board’ and are ‘assisting in the bludgeoning of the Bride of Christ.’”

He added, “There is much talk of resigning by many, let me be the first to lead in that, effective immediately.” Duitsman’s email also revealed a very divided board, noting that some elders “refuse to come under the authority of the Elder Board” and are “assisting in the bludgeoning of the Bride of Christ.”

The earlier draft also stated that it was “inappropriate to pursue a lawsuit against some of those outside the church” who raised issues about the church and MacDonald. This was omitted from the statement read tonight.

Also tonight, Sperling announced that Harvest’s Naples campus will be returned to local autonomy and will continue to be led by its current elders and staff. Earlier this week, Harvest Naples announced it had hired Russell Taylor to serve as its new interim pastor to replace founding Pastor John Secrest. Secrest was fired by Harvest several weeks ago for “insubordination” when he objected to Harvest’s plans to allow MacDonald to preach at the Naples campus during MacDonald’s earlier “indefinite sabbatical.”

Sperling also announced that Harvest will not be moving forward with plans to establish a new campus in the Hinsdale area. He said plans would remain on hold “while we evaluate the needed improvements in our governance and the way we do ministry.”

Also addressing the congregation tonight was a tearful Rick Korte, a member of the congregation who will be leading a transition team called “Harvest 2020.”

Korte announced that the members of the team will be Crystal Lake Campus Pastor Greg Bradshaw, Senior Ministry Director Laura Wiegle, and Elders Brian Musso, Tod Desmarais, and Mike Collett. Korte also said that Harvest had retained  several “outside professionals with relevant experience,” but didn’t name any of them.

“If we haven’t done something in 30, 60, 90 days, if this team is not able to push us forward, then I will walk with you hand-in-hand and leave.”

However, the earlier version of tonight’s announcement said that the church had contracted with Lawrence Swicegood, a somewhat surprising choice. Swicegood is director of media for Gateway Church, a Texas megachurch that in 2017 had to lay off staff because it had overspent revenues by $23 million. The church also has repeatedly invited disgraced pastor and close friend of MacDonald’s, Mark Driscoll, to speak at its conferences.

Another somewhat surprising choice was the preacher for tonight’s sermon at Harvest, Assistant Senior Pastor and Elder Rick Donald. Donald has been at Harvest from its inception and is considered one of MacDonald’s closest friends and allies. Brian and Tammy Anderson, who attended Harvest for 10 years, told me they left the service when Donald began speaking and so did about 30 to 40 other people. 

Despite issues at Harvest, Korte urged the congregation not to leave, but to give the transition team a chance to change things. Though the congregation was extremely quiet during Sperling’s statement, it cheered after some of Korte’s statements.

“If we haven’t done something in 30, 60, 90 days, if this team is not able to push us forward, then I will walk with you hand-in-hand and leave,” Korte said. “But I want you to stay with us now.”

Watch video of tonight’s announcement below:



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155 thoughts on “Chairman of Harvest’s Elder Board Resigns; Executive Committee to Resign Soon”

  1. Burned in Deerfield

    Mike Collett??!! Greg Bradshaw??!! ARE YOU FLIPPING KIDDING ME???!!!! Cringe-worthy MacDonald boot-licking cheerleading sycophants and co-conspirators for DECADES.

    Why not just keep MacDonald himself???

    This proves these people are absolutely incapable of anything even close to reform. Unbelievable.

    What a cesspool.

  2. Rick Donald was joined at the hip with James MacDonald. He should Act Like a Man and resign immediately. Let the church turn the page to it’s next chapter…

  3. Rick Donald preaching on this night of all nights??!! Like having Hitler open the United Nations first plebiscite.


    The moron factor there is off the scale…

  4. Harvest is Hopeless

    “…some elders “refuse to come under the authority of the Elder Board” and are “assisting in the bludgeoning of the Bride of Christ.”

    Does anyone – anyone??!! – in leadership at Harvest have more than a third-grade education? Ever actually read a Bible?

    You can’t make this stuff up…

  5. Can someone help me out? Who are the five elders on the executive committee?

    They can get new elders but imo it’s the high level pastors which have actually had and exercised the most power and influence there.

    Because of the salaries they make and the power of the pulpit ant the public influence that they have.

    I dont see how they can escape responsibility for not holding James accountable and standing up for what is right?

  6. I am the widow of a former elder who was told by Rick Donald that he was insubordinate and had to step down – no longer worthy of leadership (2012) because he disagreed with a decision. I find the fact that Harvest chose Rick to deliver a sermon tonight a very strong indicator of their lack of desire to change status quo. What matters if Rick, or any of the others, resign from XLT if they are allowed to remain on staff and/or influence ‘restructuring.’

  7. Hey Julie, give it a rest. How can you throw stones yet call yourself a Christian? And to the rest of you- what joy is this bringing to the kingdom? Would you stop and examine your sin. YOU are not perfect. Hence why we need a savior.

    1. The Bible teaches there is a higher standard for pastors and elders. Reading all of scripture on judgeing others will give you a much different view. Let scripture interpret scripture. We are to hold leaders accountable as well as fellow Christians not just sit back and say “well I’m not perfect so I can’t judge.” That is the exact mentality that keeps an bully and lover of money in a position like that for many years.

    2. This is the accusation of devils…

      “No one is perfect and therefore no one has the right to call out another’s sin.”

      The Bible says otherwise and you’ve just been following a man filled with pride for too long.

  8. AB, I’ve seen you a few places. We are all sinners saved by grace. It would be foolish to claim to be anything else. Does that mean we do not call out unrepentant patterns of sin? Should we not want anyone to call it out in our own lives? What theology is this?

    Do you think there are wolves among the sheep? How do we recognize these wolves?

    1. cheerios- Yes, I believe there are wolves among the sheep. Tell us how you know your minister is not a wolff among the sheep at your church. And tell us how you know Mancow is not a wolf.
      Sorry, but there are obvious and easily understood motives why Mancow and even Julie herself could be wolves. I mean, I bet Julie has been called a ‘wolfette’ by somebody by now.

      So how do the sheep know who the wolves are?

      1. You weren’t taught logic in school?

        Because you are describing a fallacy. For fun we could call it tu quoque ad nauseam.

        “You’re a sinner! Who are you to judge me? Or him??” It’s nonsense, and it’s from the father of lies.

  9. It appears business as usual unfortunately, as you can shuffle the shell in a shell game but it’s stiill going to be found underneath the cup! Better would be 10 random congregants to stand up each service and give their testimonies than rehashing the shells of the elder board. At this point, none are trustworthy. The whispers behind the curtain have been made known. Choose this day whom you will serve!

    1. SadnessinCall- I agree with you. I went to Harvest RM and every weekend people are baptized and give their testimonies. I guess this is not common at a lot of churches. But what shows better the Presence of God in a Church and what they are being taught then the congregation themselves talking about God in their lives? The ‘God at Work’ videos I think Dallas Jenkins was in charge of at Harvest where people talk about what God has done in their lives are all really excellent.

      1. Don ERacer- God did work through James to further HIS kingdom… Not James kingdom just like God used Balaam and his donkey! However, at least the donkey feared God. Through James’s actions, reactions, and manipulations… He and his family members have become exceptionally wealthy off of your back’s. In light of the truth and even through the allegations I challenge you to go back and listen to even one of Jame’s sermons, and realize his public persona was one thing and his private persona was entirely a different story.

        I am deeply heartbroken as I considered him to be my pastor and was a supporter of his WITW radio program. Using those unauthorized funds to buy a Deer Hunting Farm, as outlandish as that is, pales in comparison to someone who would threaten to put child porn on someone’s computer. Even in my most sinful state that thought would never enter my mind. That is just horrific and Indefensible.

        For those people who are still in support of James, even after all of the past and current revelations, shows how he was able to so easily manipulate the system and pull the wool over people‘s eyes. It certainly allowed him to dictate and do whatever he pleased behind the scenes with no consequences or accountability. I fear that just the first domino has fallen but hundreds will crumble after it. Praying for all the congregations that are reeling from this spiritual abuse. I have been there and the pain is real but God is faithful to restore. And by the way the pastor that did this to my family here in California over 15 years ago has never apologized. So don’t expect one!

  10. Just to add:
    It has been profoundly said, and how true it is, that the only thing necessary for evil to exist is for good people to remain silent… Edmund Burke (1729-1797)

  11. We are people who have been on staff for 10 years and on elder board for 4.

    1. It was only a month ago that all staff and elders all signed on the dotted line to “unconditionally support pastor James” did I say Elders?
    2. Pastor Rick preached tonight? Seriously? He’s been aware and has made excuses for gambling and much more.
    3. Is Swicegood on the team? Is Harvest paying this group? Seriously? Look history up on this company.
    4. So many people have lived such pain , but the elders have known his/James language, attitude, control, fear based toxic culture at church. Especially Rick Donald nothing was done.
    5. Reducing the size of the elders to 17, because it was too large, truth of the matter, the governence was established to deliver information to the larger elder board that they wanted to them to hear and how information was packaged. The governance was established and hindered from the former elder board to go wide instead of deep. The “governance” needs to go and return to a traditional elder oversight.

    We share the grief and anger. We trust God..,

  12. My heart hurts.

    Because I just prayed along with that prayer. And we do need to humble ourselves. And I prayed to humble myself. But will James MacDonald humble himself? If he doesn’t, that’s between the Lord and him. But the church he built and franchised isn’t a place to attend.

    James MacDonald is known in the Elgin community as a bully – someone who is entitled. Not as someone who humbles himself. Until he comes back and makes it right, he is disqualified to be an elder or a teacher.

  13. Don’t be anxious; Justice is coming. The cult is going down but that only happens when all the money and personal freedoms are stripped away by the government that God established.

  14. One BIG thing troubles me……the Elders and many of the pastors act like there has been some new light shown upon Jmac and that they are stunned at all of the NEW and SHOCKING sin that has been exposed …but this is nothing new and they know it, most of these same elders signed a document just a few short weeks ago stating that they supported James UNCONDITIONALLY…..are they aware What the word UNCONDITIONALLY means????? because it means WITHOUT CONDITION…like no matter what anyone says or what evidence is presented we still support him…..
    there isn’t a person alive or dead that I would support UNCONDITIONALLY not my wife, my kids or anyone else…the only one who is worthy of UNCONDITIONAL support is Jesus Christ and him alone….Haven’t these Guys ever read Luke 14:25-27??? If they haven’t maybe they should. ….by the way transparency isn’t something you work on ….your either transparent or your not… these Guys have been talking about being more transparent for years maybe decades .

  15. Watching Rick get up and say this week has been hard and he is shock too and he just wants to be honest is almost too much to take. He has been by James side EVERY SINGLE DAY for decades allowing and covering his behavior. Two steps forward, three steps back…

  16. Anyone else pick up on the fact that Rick is still “confused”? Where is the confusion? What’s so confusing? Was he blindsided? Are you kidding me?

  17. “I just want to be honest with you. I think that’s the way we’ve tried to be with our church.” – Rick Donald 2/16/19

    1. Bahhahaha! That’s hilarious!

      Someone shared on Twitter: “Rick told us at the end of the message to not listen to the voice of the devil if he whispers to us to leave this church.”

      Okay Rick…because leaving would probably make it really hard for you guys to hit your already impossible to hit budget. Pretty sure it ain’t the devil telling people to leave.

  18. While many of Harvests decisions recently are highly questionable, such as having MacDonald’s right hand man preach tonight, I find the tone of the dialog here and on social media from those who claim the name of Christ to be very troubling. There is much in the way of foul speech, mockery, vulgarity, and general vileness emerging… many of the same things James MacDonald was known for. Don’t become so consumed with dancing on his grave that you become a monster yourself.

    If someone else had preached this may have gone over better, but either way, Korte is right. They should be given a chance to make good on their word. If they don’t, everyone should leave, but things are happening that never would have happened in the MacDonald empire.

    God may be working here in these men’s hearts. He can change any heart and turn it wherever he wills. Far be it from us to say what God will or won’t do here. We should watch and pray.

    1. The glaring GLARING issue is Naples. The way they handled that debacle shows not one heart has changed and they remain tone deaf to the Spirit of God. Also no one is reacting or making comments like you have described. Stop exaggerating about the dissenters. Really it’s the diehard harvest defenders that have been the unhinged ones acting very similar to their father James. Harvest is going to become a heap of ashes.

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