Chicago-based Megachurch Welcomes James MacDonald Into Fellowship

By Julie Roys

Last week, New Life Covenant Church invited disgraced former pastor, James MacDonald, to speak at its men’s retreat. And today, the multi-site megachurch reportedly welcomed MacDonald and his wife into fellowship, bringing them on stage and praying publicly for them.

Kim Matthews, a woman who had recently started attending New Life Covenant with her family, said she witnessed the event this morning while attending the church’s 10:00 a.m. service in Humboldt Park. Another person reached out to me on Twitter and said he witnessed the same thing.

I contacted New Life Covenant for comment, but no one responded.

According to Matthews, a New Life Covenant pastor she didn’t know came on stage this morning after the sermon by former senior pastor, Wilfredo “Choco” De Jesus. (De Jesus recently stepped down from his role at the church to become general treasurer of the Assemblies of God.) The New Life Covenant pastor then invited MacDonald and his wife, Kathy, to join him on stage.

James & Kathy MacDonald

Matthews said the pastor told the congregation that the elder board at New Life Covenant had unanimously voted to welcome “Pastor James” and his wife into the church. She said the pastor then asked the congregation to extend their hands toward the MacDonalds, which they did, as the pastor prayed for the MacDonalds’ “healing.”

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Matthews, who said she’s read the many accounts of MacDonald’s wrongdoing, said she was shocked by what she witnessed and left the church as quickly as possible after the service because she was about to cry.

“I was so upset, I was seeing red,” Matthews said. “I was sick to my stomach in church. I couldn’t believe it.”

“I was so upset, I was seeing red. I was sick to my stomach in church. I couldn’t believe it.”

MacDonald has filed for arbitration against Harvest Bible Chapel—the Chicago-area megachurch that fired him in February for conduct “harmful to the best interests of the church.” The former celebrity pastor has been accused of numerous offenses, including misusing church funds to cover personal luxury items and trips, bullying staff, making highly inappropriate comments, and maintaining a pattern of deception.

Last week Harvest Lead Ministry Pastor Greg Bradshaw said that Harvest and MacDonald remain in the “arbitration preparation stage.” He also said that Harvest had had no contact with New Life Covenant concerning MacDonald speaking at New Life Covenant’s men’s retreat. I reached out to Bradshaw and a Harvest elder for an update but have not yet heard back.

Pastor Wilfredo De Jesus

MacDonald and Pastor De Jesus have a relationship that dates back to at least 2014 when De Jesus spoke at one of the Harvest’s Summer for the City events. I have repeatedly reached out to De Jesus for comment but he has not responded.

Matthews said she and her family came to New Life Covenant church after hearing De Jesus speak this summer at Highpoint Church in Naperville, IL. She said that since her husband is African-American and she is white, the family was looking for a more diverse congregation.

“We thought we’d found it,” she said. Now she said her family is looking for a new church and added that she’s shaken that she had initially embraced a church that would embrace an unrepentant, disgraced pastor.

“If they put this guy in charge . . . he’ll take the whole thing down,” she said. Matthews added that she doesn’t think most of the congregation at New Life Covenant knows about the wrongdoing MacDonald has committed. 

Personally, I’m as stunned as Matthews that New Life Covenant has welcomed MacDonald into fellowship. First Corinthians 5:11 is very clear about how to treat unrepentant sinners who claim to be brothers:  “But now I am writing you not to associate with anyone who claims to be a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a verbal abuser, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.”

New Life Covenant has a global, weekly attendance of 17,000 and maintains more than 110 ministries.



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82 thoughts on “Chicago-based Megachurch Welcomes James MacDonald Into Fellowship”

  1. I can’t believe the people who think this is unfair to James! Of course they need a church for healing etc. But as has been stated by many he needs to repent for all he has done. I am just stunned that people don’t understand the magnitude of damage that he has done to believers! Maybe if you were the ones he yelled at or abused the use of your money, then you all might get it! Does first hand knowledge not mean anything! There are many who have stated as such! The bible is by which we hold our standards and is very clear on what qualifies a leader!

    1. Since James MacDonald has been invited to serve in Teaching Role at New Life Covenant Chicago Humboldt Park location, I wonder if their leadership knew about these public record documentation from multiple witnesses.




  2. Why dont you reach out to that particular church with tour concerns I’m certain they are open to receive these concerning views

  3. I think James should live by his own standard that was executed at Harvest – there’s no going back to particular ministries for some types of serious sin. Many who have left Harvest can attest to being asked to leave a ministry or moved to other ministry, in some cases with little explanation, and in some cases told outright they would never be able to return to the ministry they had. Teaching biblical restoration gets cut at the knees with this sort of hand picking of policy. Not saying New Life can’t be a place for his healing. But New Life should make him live by his harsh policy he imposed on so many others who were repentant sinners.

  4. noweaponformedagainstmewillprosper

    Does Julie Roys have anything better to do than obsess over what James MacDonald is doing? The lack of grace among those who supposedly call themselves Christian is unbelievable! How do you know this man has not repented? Do you know him? Have you spoke with him? You are judging his heart! And as far as the comment about being a drunkard, sexually immoral, etc. from the 1 Cor. 5:11 that is a joke – there is not one thing there that he is guilty of. I’m frankly saddened that there are believers that think he shouldn’t be allowed to step foot in a church. Hello, let you who are without sin cast the first stone. We are the Church; and he is a member of the body. What’s really in the heart of Ms. Roys is her hatred towards someone she is called to love. Thank God, for reconcilliation! He got his sentence for what he did wrong; now leave the man alone! Harvest follows the letter of the law, but not the HEART of the law!

  5. The title of Julie Roys’ website states “Engaging Issues. Seeking Truth”. So, lets seek truth from God’s Word and not rely on human commentary.
    Matt. 26: 69-75; Mark 14: 66-72 and Luke 22:55-62 record Peter’s denial of Christ. A denial so strong that he used curses to demonstrate the strength of his denial. I would suggest that this is a sin far more serious than James MacDonald’s. Why do I say that? Because of what Matt. 10: 32, 33 says, “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven”. Peter later affirmed his love for Jesus and Jesus did forgive Peter and used him in an extremely powerful way in the building of His Kingdom. The lesson is God can look beyond our sins of the past and restore us to useful service. Our response to James MacDonald’s sin and restoration should be the same as the other apostles toward Peter, full acceptance. Peter’s affirmation of his love for Jesus was enough for God and the apostles, so too, James’ affirmation of his love for Jesus should be enough for us. Why? Because we are called to love as Christ loves and forgive as Christ forgives. That is the truth recorded in my Bible. We should be rejoicing that God is using James again to build His Kingdom. Satan successfully attacked James and Harvest. Were you praying for God’s protection over James and Harvest, knowing that Satan’s domain was being overcome and he would relentlessly attack both? Jesus prayed for Peter about that very thing and then welcomed and restored him after he failed. We also need to heed the warning in Galatians 5:15. If, however, you still prefer to focus on what you believe was/is James’ motives then consider Paul’s position on wrong motives recorded in Phil. 1:15-18. Paul preferred to rejoice that Christ is proclaimed.
    Much more could be pointed out about the teaching of Christ in respect to this topic but I will close with pointing to the warning in 2 John 1:9-11 about not holding to the teaching of Christ.

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