I just received the following email from the elders of Harvest Bible Chapel. I was not expecting an apology, but it is a welcome development and a step in the right direction. I do forgive each one of the elders for pursuing the lawsuit against myself, the Mahoneys, and the Bryants. And I truly hope for healing and reconciliation in the days to come.
Scott and Sarah Bryant, Ryan and Melinda Mahoney, and Julie Roys:
The elder board of Harvest Bible Chapel is writing to you to apologize and ask for your forgiveness for a lawsuit that should never have been brought against you. While at the time we thought we were acting in the best interests of the church, we now realize this lawsuit, while lawful, was a sinful violation of 1 Corinthians 6 and biblically should not have been pursued.
This action put you through undue stress, took significant time, energy and resources, and left you to defend your reputations. We are sorry; please forgive us.
Since our action against you was public, we will be posting today on our website this apology, along with an apology to our congregation.
This week the elder board will transition to a completely new board of elders. With a new church leadership team and new elder board now in place, along with this apology and the restitution Harvest has made/offered to each of you, we hope this will start the healing process between each of you and Harvest.
– The Elders of Harvest Bible Chapel
Also, below is the email Harvest sent to its members tonight. One note: if you follow the link for specifics on the lawsuit, you’ll read, “Regarding the lawsuit against Julie Roys and The Elephant’s Debt, at the time, Harvest leadership had grown weary of continued negative, and what was then believed to be untrue, commentary towards the church.” For the record, when the lawsuit was filed, I hadn’t written anything about the church–nothing. And as far as I know, practically everything printed by The Elephant’s Debt has proven to be true. Harvest needs to make note of that.
To our Harvest Family,
Later today, Lord willing, the new elder board will be confirmed and our time serving on the board will have come to an end. Despite the challenges of this current season, it has been a privilege to serve the Lord and the church on the elder board. Yet, we also understand that as the church moves forward, it is best served to have a completely new elder board. Because of that, we willingly resign from the elder board. This will be the last communication to the church body from this board of elders.
Since announcing our intent to resign from the board, our focus has been to “run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12), and to transition well the church leadership structure for future success. In every meeting, discussion, action or consideration, we have strived first to do what is biblical and honors the Lord above all else, what is best for the church, and what is best for the future leaders of the church. Under that premise, we want to update you on three areas specifically.
First, under the direction and recommendation of Crossroads Resolution Group, a third-party ministry who specializes in reconciliation, conflict resolution, and mediation, we met with James MacDonald on Friday, April 12. The meeting between the Elder Board and James was attended by six of the seven elders (one was recovering from surgery), two conciliators from Crossroads, an outside attorney representing Harvest who specializes in employment law practices, James, and his attorney. The purpose of this meeting was to both begin biblical reconciliation between us, as well as make efforts to address complex legal issues and lingering disagreements still open since his termination. Harvest’s Bylaws require us to pursue matters in dispute through mediation and, if mediation fails, through more costly third-party arbitration. An arbitration or legal proceeding introduces risks, is expensive for both parties, requires significant staff involvement and time away from ministry, and delays the efforts toward reconciliation. While these efforts are still ongoing, please be in prayer for a successful, biblical resolution to these matters.
Additionally, as we look back with the clarity we now have on the lawsuits Harvest pursued last fall that were later withdrawn, we believe that these lawsuits, while lawful, were a sinful violation of 1 Corinthians 6 and biblically should not have been pursued. We’ve privately and now publicly apologized to the defendants regarding the suits. Specifics of this can be found here.
Finally, we initiated a completely new process for the selection of the next group of elders to serve on the board of our church. This new process relied on congregational input, campus pastor nominations, and a final selection led by campus pastors and church members where we were not present. We felt our absence was necessary to begin restoring faith to our church in the biblical office of eldership. We praise the Lord for raising up these nine men to govern our church who we believe He has appointed for such a time as this.
We ask that you would fully support the Campus Pastors, the new Church Leadership Team and this new Elder Board, as we also will be doing. Our church has never before had a full elder board replacement. This is why we ask for your prayers and patience as they step into their role. We believe by faith that God is not done working in our church and look forward to seeing how He will continue to use Harvest Bible Chapel for His glory.
This has been an incredibly trying time to serve as elders, navigating the most difficult time in the history of our church. Issues we faced were complex, and we prayerfully sought the Lord to lead us throughout our time serving. So many of you have been supportive, prayed for us, and lifted us up at times when our completing this season felt like an impossible task. Thank you.
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)
-The outgoing Elder Board of Harvest Bible Chapel