Harvest Bible Chapel Elder Dan George today became the first leader at the church to publicly confess for his role in allowing and perpetrating sin at the church. This is such a heartening first step and I forgive Dan for any sin committed against me. I appreciate his willingness to step off the board as soon as a replacement can be found. George posted this letter on Facebook and it is reprinted here with his permission:
My wife and I have called Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago our home church for 23+ years. We have seen God do great things in and through Harvest in that time. We have served as small group leaders and coaches and continue to do so. We have been blessed to invest in many couples through newly married small groups. We have led mission trips to help sister churches in Romania, Moldova, and Haiti. We enjoy it all and count it as service to our Lord Jesus. This statement is about my service as an elder at Harvest Bible Chapel. This statement is a personal statement, not a statement on behalf of anyone. It is not a statement on behalf of the church.
I served as an elder on the larger elder board from 2010 through 2015 (i.e., two consecutive 3-year terms before a mandatory roll-off). I was off the board for the three years between December 2015 and late December 2018. I rejoined the board in late December. Up until a few weeks ago, I counted it a privilege to have served as an elder at Harvest Bible Chapel, a church God has used to multiply believers, multiply leaders, and multiply churches. But information that has come to light recently has made me rethink my involvement. There have been many tearful and sleepless nights, much prayer, and conversations with my wife and dear brothers in Christ. I have seen my sin and must repent. I am convicted to act on that now.
3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away
through my groaning all day long.
4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. Selah
5 I acknowledged my sin to you,
and I did not cover my iniquity;
I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the Lord,”
and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah (Psalm 32:3-5)
- I apologize for not listening to those who tried to bring issues to light. I should have made it easier for brothers and sisters who called Harvest home to come to me. Please forgive me.
- I apologize for vilifying people outside Harvest who tried to bring issues to light. Please forgive me.
- I apologize for agreeing to place three of my fellow elders – i.e., Dan Marquardt, Scott Phelps, and Barry Slabaugh, who are all godly men – under church discipline and excommunicating them in 2013 when they raised concerns. (Dan/Scott/Barry – Please forgive me. I look forward to a time, hopefully soon, when I can sit with you and express this in person.)
- I apologize for signing a statement of “unconditional support” for our former senior pastor in December. I was wrong. Harvest congregation – Please forgive me for causing confusion.
(I could do my best to unconditionally love someone – i.e., Harvest’s 5th pillar. But I cannot pledge unconditional support of anyone.)
- I apologize for not holding our former senior pastor accountable for his actions. I apologize for being OK with a structure that did not allow the visibility needed for real accountability. (I could tell you all about the structure and the part it played. That may be another statement for another time.) As I have said to many of you in person recently, I am so sorry. Please forgive me.
I am sorry for the way I have handled my duty as an elder. As soon as men are identified to serve as the new elders to lead our church forward and we can conduct the needed transition, I will roll off the board. For now, I want to help our church rebuild. I believe we have taken some solid steps in that direction over the last few weeks, including reducing the board from 30+ to 9, getting outside help, and other steps. However, it is not enough. There is more work to do. More changes are needed and are needed soon. If our congregation will allow me, I desire to help redirect and change Harvest, to position us completely back toward Jesus Christ alone. I pray as the Third Day song, “Lead us back where we belong.”
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I am speaking only for myself. I am speaking differently than some others. I may be speaking sooner than some others. But I remain hopeful others will follow. That is between them and God. In the end, I am convicted to act in repentance now. I am hopeful my doing so will help break down the old Harvest culture and start to move us to a new, open, honest, gracious, forgiving, loving culture in the first year of what I pray will be a newly revived church.
O, Lord, we desperately need your help! Have mercy on us.