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Landon MacDonald to Lead Arizona Megachurch Despite Allegations of Abuse When at Harvest Bible Chapel

By Sarah Einselen
Landon MacDonald
Landon MacDonald has been named as lead teaching pastor at Mission Community Church in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo via church website)

An Arizona megachurch has hired Landon MacDonald as a lead pastor, despite allegations MacDonald bullied and abused those in his care while pastoring at Harvest Bible Chapel under his father, James MacDonald.

“The staff and Board of Servant Leaders are excited to announce the selection and confirmation of Landon Macdonald as the new Lead Teaching Pastor” at Mission Community Church in the Phoenix suburbs, the announcement states. “In the coming days and weeks, you will have plenty of opportunities to meet and get to know Landon.”

Landon MacDonald will start at Mission on September 6, according to Matt Maier, chairman of Mission’s Board of Servant Leaders. He’s still listed as executive pastor of youth ministries at Cornerstone Church, another Phoenix-area multi-site church.

Before joining Cornerstone, Landon MacDonald had been executive pastor of student ministries at Harvest Bible Chapel, the Chicago-area megachurch his father James MacDonald founded. James MacDonald was ousted in 2019 over a “substantial pattern of sinful behavior.” Landon MacDonald and his brother Luke resigned days later.

Harvest members have accused both Luke and Landon MacDonald of verbal and spiritual abuse while they were on Harvest’s staff.

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One former student and musician at Harvest accused the brothers of maintaining a “fear-based culture” and treating people like they don’t have value “unless we assign it.”

Another former student said the brothers constantly barraged him with jokes at his expense. The former student also said he told Landon and Luke that he was being physically abused, but neither pastor reported it to authorities. (In Illinois, pastors are mandatory reporters.)

In addition, a video originally posted to Harvest’s youth ministry channel shows people being assaulted during pranks Landon MacDonald oversaw.

A year after Landon, Luke, and James MacDonald resigned, Harvest apologized for hazing that occurred at its camp in Michigan. Though none of the MacDonalds were involved in the hazing in 2020, a Harvest High School YouTube channel suggests a culture under Landon MacDonald where people were harmed. The channel features 99 videos of “people getting hurt.”

Landon MacDonald did not respond to a request by The Roys Report (TRR) for comment for this story.

TRR asked Maier, Mission’s board chairman, about the alleged abuse. He replied via email that the board decided to hire Landon MacDonald “after seeking the Lord through a season of prayer and fasting, while thoroughly doing our own due diligence.”

“Landon is a gifted communicator of God’s Word and we are grateful the Lord has brought him to serve the local church body at Mission as a part of our shared leadership model,” Maier added.

The lead teaching position is new at Mission.

“Our staff and church used to be led by one ‘big boss’ (the Lead Pastor),” Mission’s website states. “With this change, our staff and church will be led by ‘two bosses’ who have different abilities and callings so they will have different jobs.”

Landon MacDonald’s job will be to teach and lead content development at Mission, the church indicated on its website. The church’s executive pastor, Kevin Rhineheimer, has accepted the other new “boss” job of lead executive pastor, the church previously announced. Rhineheimer had been the interim lead pastor and will keep leading staff and operations.

Mission reportedly had about 5,000 to 6,000 attending services as of a few years ago. In 2014, its lead pastor, Mark Connelly, was forced to resign after confessing to sexual misconduct with women in the congregation.

Joel Thomas was hired as lead pastor after Connelly. He resigned last fall, an archived page on Mission’s website shows. He’s now the lead pastor at Buckhead Church in Atlanta, Georgia. Buckhead is a campus of North Point Community Church, where Thomas had been on staff for about 16 years before taking the lead pastorate at Mission.

Sarah Einselen is an award-winning writer and editor based in Texas.



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8 Responses

  1. Well, there is not “boss” job listed in the Bible for churches that belong to Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 5:1-4 lists undershepherds who are stewards of the sheep for the Chief Shepherd.

    1. If “boss” doesn’t raise a red flag then what will? So scary to see this after what has already been proven in the past behavior. Scary to say the least.

  2. Why do people even attend church these days? With so much corruption and so many power mad pervert preachers the “church” has become a total disgrace.

  3. Jim H,

    Churches have become clubs that allow the attendees to indulge in whatever activity they want to, not having to follow the 10 Commandments (or have personnel responsibility for our sins) that comes from following a man’s example, not Jesus’s, because grace allows this. There is a reason Paul is now the focus of the church and not Christ’s ministry. 100% of sermons misusing bits and pieces of Paul to cobble together a sermon giving men/women power/authority over God, are easily refuted with direct referencing of Jesus’s teachings, but when you attempt to discuss this within the church group you are shouted down because Paul’s ministry super cedes Jesus’s because Paul is Jesus. I have lost my best friend of 45 years, since he now follows a pastor that claims the “bible” allows him to have the same powers as a wizard or sorcerer (his specific soft spot for the devil to attack) and has tried to convince me that wizards are misunderstood and not evil by nature, even though a wizard relies on self/summoning “good” spirits, not God (which by definition is satanic) and we can manifest whatever we speak, just as God and Jesus. The satanic inversion of God’s Laws are welcomed, not condemned. LMD dad, JMD, is a master of this technique.

  4. It would be interesting to know if Mission Community Church currently uses NDA’s and if not will these suddenly start being used once MacDonald has a say so. It just seems that NDA’s and power hungry leaders go hand in hand.

  5. A relevant memory – I attended HBC as a teen from ~2013-2018. One night at youth ministry, the kids were doing some activity moving from room to room. In one of the rooms, Landon turned on a galaxy projector and told us about how he was recently gifted the projector by a woman. He made a joke that he wasn’t “sure what she wanted” from him. The implication was clear that he sensed she was attracted to him but that he found her advances repulsive. The story was played off as a joke, one we all laughed at, myself included. Later that night, we broke into our usual small groups. The leader of my small group, a woman around Landon’s age, looked upset. We found out that she was the one who had given Landon the projector for his birthday, and she did indeed have feelings for him. She was mortified.
    Up until that moment, I had revered Landon. He was charming and funny, and he had cultivated a cult of personality similar to his father’s. But he handled this woman’s feelings so terribly that I could never quite forgive him after that.

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