Former Harvest Elder Asks for Forgiveness and Posts Public Statement

Mike Dunwoody, who recently came off the elder board at Harvest Bible Chapel when it was reduced in size, called me last night to ask for my forgiveness for his part in supporting the lawsuit against me and the authors of The Elephant’s Debt, Scott Bryant and Ryan Mahoney, and their wives. I sincerely appreciated the call and extended my forgiveness. Today, Dunwoody posted this statement to Facebook and also gave it to me with his permission to post.
 
Sherry and I have attended Harvest Bible Chapel for the last 19 years.  During that time I have served in different roles- small group leader, flock leader, and elder. I have been blessed to see lives changed and for sure my own. We love serving the people at Harvest and often attend more than one service each weekend just to fellowship with them.
 
For the last six years I served as an elder, which has been a sobering responsibility.  I did not take it lightly and I was determined to serve to the best of my ability while seeking God for His help in shepherding His flock. 1 Peter 5:2-3.
 
I believe I did just that most of the time. I say most of the time, because especially in recent months, there were times when I had a check in my spirit, but failed to speak up out of fear of man.  This is not pleasing to God because He has called me to fear the Lord only. Proverbs 1:7 & 1 John 4:18
 

“It has grieved my heart to know that I have failed the Lord and His church, therefore, I am asking for forgiveness for the following areas . . .”

It is through tears and a humbled heart that I write this.  I have sought the Lord and confessed as many specific sins as He has brought to mind. 1 John 1:9, Psalm 139:23-24 I have also begun reaching out to specific people and friends I now realize I have sinned against. 
 
Now I am writing to ask YOU for forgiveness. 
 
It has grieved my heart to know that I have failed the Lord and His church, therefore, I am asking for forgiveness for the following areas
 
  • not speaking up against the decision to discipline 3 elders who I know to be godly men. To Scott, Dan, and Barry, please forgive me for not having your backs. (I have already spoken with all three of these men) To the congregation, forgive me for how this misled and confused
  • allowing the lawsuit to take place. To the Bryant’s, Mahoney’s, and Julie, I have reached out personally to ask forgiveness, but I am also doing that here in front of others. To the congregation, forgive me for leading us into an unbiblical lawsuit.
  • signing a document that gave unconditional support to James. To the congregation, please forgive me for how this misled you.
  • not speaking up against the launch of the Naples campus in the first place. To the people of Naples, please forgive me for the turmoil that’s come out of that decision. To the people of Harvest Chicago, please forgive for the embarrassment this was for  us.
  • being too quick in attributing to spiritual attack what I now see as consequences of sin, and by doing so, failing to discern the danger and protect the flock. To the congregation, and to my Lord Jesus, forgive me for the shame this has brought on the church and the name of our Savior. To those who have brought up concerns to me personally in years past, forgive me for not digging deeper to find real answers, instead of being satisfied with one side of the story. 
 
Will you please forgive me?
 
If there are any areas that I have failed you personally, and have not been mentioned here, please reach out to me so I can understand and seek your forgiveness. I desire to honor the Lord with my life, my words, and my actions. 
 
“Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: “I am the Lord, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself, who frustrates the signs of liars and makes fools of diviners, who turns wise men back and makes their knowledge foolish, who confirms the word of his servant and fulfills the counsel of his messengers, who says of Jerusalem, ‘She shall be inhabited,’ and of the cities of Judah, ‘They shall be built, and I will raise up their ruins’;”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭44:24-26‬
 
Sincerely,
 
Mike Dunwoody

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24 thoughts on “Former Harvest Elder Asks for Forgiveness and Posts Public Statement

  1. Kristi

    This is an example of true repentance. In the ways that this applies to me, I extend my forgiveness.

  2. When a believer Sins, and repents and seeks forgiveness from other believers, how can we not forgive…yes I do forgive you Mike Dunwoody…unfortunately there are many repercussions for the whole body of Christ when those in leadership Sin and cover for the sins of others in leadership, or anyone else for that matter…I hope the other men in leadership at Harvest will Have the courage Mike has shown, so that the body of Christ at Harvest can begin to put this behind us…again Mike , thank you for speaking up I hope you will put your fellow former and current Elders, and pastors feet to the fire.

  3. Oh ,and by the way, Mike has shown those currently in leadership what transparency looks like…he didn’t have to work at it ,he just DID IT.

  4. Former Member Hurting 1997-2012

    I wept as I read this. Thank you so much for sharing this.

  5. Sam Jindoyan

    Thank you Mike, well done, I know that you are sincere and would like you to know that we love you and Sherry and praying that the Lord will heal you both in time, we are also praying for Dan and Kim George.
    Let us know how we can pray /help you in this process.

  6. Dave W

    I sense that you have gone through a very difficult season. Praying that you and Sherry are able to rest in the comfort of our Lord. You truly demonstrated a stance of repentance that will serve as an example to those in leadership.

  7. This is beautiful. My time at Harvest preceded your involvement in any of this, Mike, by a few years. Nevertheless, I thank you for this. May the Lord heal and strengthen you and Sherry going forward, as well as the many wounded who have spoken up in the various venues of discussion on these matters at Harvest. Honor to the Lord can yet come out of this mess, even as it has started to do so.

  8. Of course, we forgive. I did not go to harvest at this time but my anger is against the damage this has done to unbelievers and our relationship with them. When the church is more corrupt than the world we slander God. It’s a serious offense to all believers.

    Does anyone know or able to comment on the whereabouts of James, his wife, and offspring?

    • John

      … and all the money, properties, etc?

  9. I Bet Elder Steve Huston does…but he has been lying for Jmac for years.

    • LeBrenda Vance

      He is without sin Let Him cast the first stone that’s what Jesus said when the woman was caught in adultery to those who accused her. Let us just remember that God’s hand is sovereign and he forgives us each and every day from the time we were born we were sinners but because of the blood of Jesus we have forgiveness of our sins and if we can’t learn to forgive others how can we expect for God to forgive us there is no such thing as little sin or big sin but there is Amazing Grace the stretches out to All God’s Children let us continue to pray for our Brothers and Sisters in Christ and let that be the only thing we do pray and not judge. Amen

  10. Mr. Dunwoody, I believe the next step in repentance is to expose all the things the Elders and other leaders have been hiding.

  11. Agree 100% Dan Keller! Walking away and apologizing is a good step for personal repentance and healing. But these men & these elders who walked away, those few who have apologized, still have congregational responsibility to let those who still attend HBC know what they know. What did they see and hear and learn about what goes on behind closed doors in secret meetings, “for your ears only”…at HBC?? Certainly if there are things that are so secret that they can’t go beyond the Elder board then the church is beyond unhealthy and has many things that need to be uprooted. What was stirred in these men to cause such conviction that they would walk away from a church and people they loved after many years. If what is happening at Harvest is not good enough for these men and their families, then why is it okay for the people who were sitting in the chairs next to them each week and who are still going to sit there in the weeks to come and tithe? if these men continue to say nothing about the truth of what’s really going on and what really made them leave, they continue to perpetuate the problem. People in the congregation are not getting the information they need to make an informed decision based on complete, truthful, transparent and unskewed accounts about the place they have chosen to worship.

    • Cj Moran

      Good morning Eaglenest,

      I agree wholeheartedly with your comments. I also am skeptical because he left out his worship of the Gold Calf of (Fame, Fortune, Ego, James MacDonald.. – fill in the blank).

      The Elder Team at HBC was responsibile to keep the church boring and out of blogs like this one. They didn’t do the other 6 days of boring hard work that it takes to run a church. Yes – the pews were packed, but now people are leaving as walking wounded and my never come back to a church again.

      I hope you are not one of them. I hope they can find a spiritual home that is healthy.

      — CJ

  12. There is certainly some psychology such as “group think” and “confirmation bias” that causes people in groups like elder boards to no question and go along with the group. Also, as others have pointed out before James MacDonald was both controlling and manipulative so that didn’t help.

    Glad to see another leader repenting.

  13. raswhiting

    Has anyone at Harvesrt begun to repent of the worldly theology taught by MacDonald? I recall yearsa ago hearing him one day on the radio and his message was domineering, haughty, and legalistic. I was completely turned off to his preaching. But he has gone on for years since then. These elders allowed or encouraged that false teaching.

  14. Shocked

    My husband and I forgive you. Thank you for all your years of service. Many of us can not relate with the burden an elder feels. Praying there is healing and hope ahead.

  15. Ken Welter

    i am not and Elder and I’m not on staff, just a volunteer the entire time my wife and I have attended Harvest over the past 21 years. Why is everyone intimidated by James MacDonald? I never understood that! He’s just a pastor! My son worked for Harvest in Elgin and has a wife and 2 kids and got fired after 5 years on Christmas Eve 3 years ago! Pretty classy move, right? He stood up for himself and got canned! This whole thing about cowering in fear of James disgusts me! Act like men!

    • Right on Ken!!! I agree completely.

  16. HarvestMember

    I’m so glad to read this. It would be interesting to hear how he got there. I saw his wife Sherri defending Harvest early on in November or December. I would guess like many their “eyes were opened” but it would be a great story to share!

  17. GJ

    Forgiveness is the first step, next is restitution. Paid for the legal fees of the five sued as well as Pastor John Secrest with compensation for loss income. Allow him to return to the church that he planted and remove the three HBC puppets- interim pastor and two elders.

    • Kimberly

      Amen to those things, GJ—they are sorely needed!

  18. Scott Wallem

    The evil one has been working hard on Bible teaching churches lately and we’ve seen the results. The pastors have become celebrities and been allowed to have too much power. The church isn’t about the celebrity pastor it’s supposed to be about God! The pastors are supposed to work for the church and shepherd them. Not be in charge of them! Men who have preached the bible to us for years are now forgetting a big part of it, repentance. I’ve been saying to my wife if men like James and Bill Hybels are truly men of God they should be standing in front of there congregations asking for forgiveness and admitting there sins. If they don’t it proves where there heart really is. Somebody has to start the process of forgiveness to maybe prompt others to confess. Thank God Mike (a real follower of God) will step up and do what God wants him to do. I’ve known Mike for a long time and served with him at a previous church. It doesn’t surprise me that Mike has asked for forgiveness because he’s had the word of God planted in his heart and when the holy spirit convicted Mike he did what God wanted him to do. Thank you Mike for setting the example of a God following man. Maybe James and Bill Hybels might be convicted by your actions to do the same.

  19. I believe Jmac is a symptom of a bigger problem….did Jmac sin? Yes he did and for a long time …was he given opportunitie to repent? Yes, over and over again…did MOST of the Elders and MANY pastors know about it? Yes they did, and they chose to hide it, or lie about it and destroy anyone who would expose it….and there in lies the problem, when men love anything more than GOD and his Word, this is what you get….I Believe most of the leadership at Harvest, either loved or feared Jmac more than God and that is Cowardly…..Read luke 14:25-33…..and count the cost of Discipleship… Can these men repent? Yes they can…..can they repent without consequences? No, they have disqualified themselves from leadership, even though many of them still refuse to step down for the sake of The Boby….I find it hard to believe that Harvest Bible chapel can’t find 9 Godly men out of a congregation of 12,000 who have not bowed the knee to Jmac or The Harvest Brand, and haven’t been tainted by the corrupt leadership there…I didn’t write The Bible, but I know How to Read it.

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