Disgraced pastor, James MacDonald, yesterday posted—and hours later deleted—a statement accusing Harvest Bible Chapel (HBC) of stealing $6.6 million from MacDonald’s former broadcast ministry, Walk in the Word (WITW), and then running a “year-long campaign to destroy my reputation.”
MacDonald also accused Harvest of paying Attorney Sally Wagenmaker $300K to create a “a financial fiction” about MacDonald’s spending to justify the church’s seizure of WITW funds.
Wagenmaker was the attorney who last year conducted a financial review of Harvest’s finances and then concluded that MacDonald had misused millions of church funds “for improper financial benefit.”
Last month, Harvest disclosed that the church gave MacDonald all digital and physical assets of WITW, including $1.2 million and a parcel of land, as part of a recent arbitration settlement.
But clearly, MacDonald is not satisfied with the settlement.
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“Not returned is the $6.6 million in WITW donor funds, which HBC and their bank, the Evangelical Christian Credit Union (ECCU), actually stole from WITW,” MacDonald wrote.
MacDonald also expressed dissatisfaction with a meeting he had with Harvest’s elders on October 20.
MacDonald said the elders “scoffed” at MacDonald’s insistence that he had reimbursed the church for personal expenses incurred when MacDonald was at HBC.
MacDonald said Pastor Jeff Gill of Calvary Church South Bay and retired Pastor Dave Stone of Southeast Christian Church also attended his meeting with the elders. According to MacDonald, Gill and Stone were “in shock over how stiff necked these Laird Elders really are.” (Brian Laird is the elder chairman at HBC.)
I reached out to Pastors Gill and Stone for comment but did not immediately hear back.
I also reached out to Harvest to respond to MacDonald’s many accusations, but the church did not respond.
MacDonald alleged in his letter that the “cruel illegalities” he suffered at Harvest’s hands were the result of “three factions” that conspired against him.
One of the alleged “factions” is former Harvest executive committee elder and treasurer Jeff Smith. According to MacDonald, Smith “feared fiduciary responsibility” for a mortgage refinance failure, so he “panicked and led the unlawful seizure of $6.6 million . . . apparently deciding I was worth more ‘dead’ than alive.”
In 2018, while MacDonald was still at Harvest, the church sued the ECCU because the credit union refused to refinance four of Harvest’s five loans. (To date, Harvest has more than $35 million in mortgage debt.)
According to MacDonald, Smith . . . “panicked and led the unlawful seizure of $6.6 million . . . apparently deciding I was worth more ‘dead’ than alive.”
Another “faction” MacDonald accused of conspiring against him is Dallas Jenkins, former HBC executive director of Vertical Church Films. MacDonald calls Jenkins a “disgruntled former staff member” and claims that Jenkins led a “letter campaign” with “the goal of revenge.”
Jenkins was one of six former staff members who wrote devastating letters to Harvest’s elder board shortly before Harvest fired MacDonald. These letters documented scores of incidents where MacDonald mocked, threatened, and belittled staff; lied and reneged on promises; raged at those around him; and prospered financially at the church’s expense. (Links to the letters are posted at the end of this article.)
I reached out to Jenkins for comment about MacDonald’s statement about him, but he did not respond.
The remaining factions MacDonald accuses are campus pastors, Greg Bradshaw, who resigned last month, and Mo Zachariah, pastor of Cityline Bible Church—a former HBC campus that became an autonomous church last year.
MacDonald accuses the pastors of using “their control of Elder selection” for the purpose of “elevating their own position.” MacDonald also states that Bradshaw was terminated from HBC. (Bradshaw and Harvest, however, maintain that Bradshaw resigned.)
“Repentance” for his “role in relational matters”
Despite these many personal allegations, MacDonald writes, “At no time have I failed to express repentance about my role in relational matters underlying these public events.”
I have spoken to dozens of former key Harvest staff and elders. None of them report that MacDonald has expressed any remorse for his actions toward them.
MacDonald also has never apologized to me or the four other people he sued in 2018 for allegedly defaming him. (Harvest later dropped the suit and apologized for bringing it.)
In addition, MacDonald has sued his former close friend, radio personality Mancow Muller, for defamation. That case is ongoing.
MacDonald also claimed in his statement that Harvest’s method of firing him “broke Scripture, HBC bylaws, and common sense.”
According to Harvest’s bylaws, the senior pastor “shall only be removed by unanimous recommendation of the Executive Committee and by the consensus of the Elder Board.”
Dan George, a former Harvest elder, who was on the board when MacDonald was fired, told The Roys Report that Harvest’s Executive Committee brought a unanimous recommendation to terminate MacDonald’s employment to the February 12, 2019, elder board meeting. George added that every elder approved MacDonald’s termination at the February 12 meeting.
George also said that MacDonald vehemently opposed giving the six letters critical of MacDonald to the full elder board. MacDonald instead insisted that the letters should have gone to a reconciliation team, where George said they likely would have not been seen by a majority of the elders.
Dan George, a former Harvest elder . . . told The Roys Report that Harvest’s Executive Committee brought a unanimous recommendation to terminate MacDonald’s employment . . .
In his recent statement, MacDonald also objected to the elders’ “DQ (disqualification) process,” calling it “rancid and revealing.”
In November 2019, Harvest’s elders formally disqualified MacDonald for public ministry after conducting an internal investigation and concluding that MacDonald “had a substantial pattern of sinful behavior in numerous areas.”
This pattern included misrepresenting that gifts MacDonald bought using Harvest funds were actually from him; “extravagant spending utilizing church resources”; displaying an “insulting, belittling, and verbally bullying others”; and being “hasty and reckless.”
MacDonald also alleged that Harvest’s “firing of 10 faithful people closest to us . . . was unconscionable.”
However, George said the only person close to MacDonald that Harvest fired in 2019 was MacDonald’s assistant, Sharon Kostal. All other top Harvest staff who left in the wake of MacDonald’s firing, like his sons Luke and Landon, resigned. Luke and Landon MacDonald’s resignation letters are posted online.
MacDonald ends his statement by insisting that all members of Harvest’s elder board “resign immediately.” He also calls on new elders, John Smith and Jeff Thompson, to “show some courage and insist that . . . all wrongs are righted.”
MacDonald says until these demands are met, Harvest “has nothing to look forward to, because as I taught you all for 30 years, God will not bless with all this sinful garbage buried under your tent.”
UPDATE: On Wednesday (Nov 11), Mancow Muller spoke publicly for the first time since MacDonald filed a lawsuit against him in response to this story. In a text to me, Muller wrote:
How ironic Lady Macbeth MacDonald is screaming into the shadows of his mansion blaming everybody but himself. Really something that this man who relished kicking the people out of God’s church that dared to question his lavish spending is now upset that he himself was kicked out? Oh ye hypocrite! His sin was revealed. Truth reported. Where is the repentance or humility in anything he does. Where is God in anything MacDonald does?
James MacDonald’s Full Online Statement:
To view the letters submitted by former Harvest staff, click on the links below:
- Dean Butters (former HBC executive director of business operations)
- Jacob Ross (former bodyguard of James MacDonald)
- Dallas Jenkins (former HBC executive director of Vertical Church Films)
- Dan Sumpter (former executive director of Walk in the Word)
- Garrett Higbee (former HBC executive director of Biblical Soul Care)
- Sixth letter by Sandy Song, former HBC coordinator of mission and outreach, is not currently available.