James MacDonald Harvest

Harvest Bible Chapel & James MacDonald Settle Arbitration & Agree to Keep Details Confidential

By Julie Roys

Disgraced celebrity pastor, James MacDonald, and Harvest Bible Chapel have settled their months-long arbitration, and both parties have agreed to a Protective Order, keeping the details of the settlement confidential.

That’s according to court documents filed today by MacDonald’s lawyer. The documents state that the settlement was reached on August 14. 

The documents are part of MacDonald’s defamation lawsuit against Mancow Muller. And the information about the arbitration settlement was included as support for MacDonald’s argument that certain documents requested by Muller’s lawyer should remain confidential.

The arbitration between MacDonald and Harvest dates back to May 2019.

According to an Elder Update, MacDonald sent the church a letter demanding arbitration in May. (MacDonald actually filed for arbitration in July 2019.) Harvest said the issues in MacDonald’s claim primarily involved MacDonald’s termination and ownership of his former broadcast ministry, Walk in the Word.

At the time, Harvest said: “As leaders of this church, we are committing to communicating about this arbitration process as it progresses. There is no desire to keep this matter unnecessarily private.”

To date, Harvest has made no public announcement about the settlement.

I emailed the elders of Harvest and Lead Ministry Pastor Greg Bradshaw, seeking comment, but they did not respond by time of publication.

MacDonald Seeking Confidentiality in Muller Lawsuit

The information about the arbitration settlement was included in MacDonald’s response to the first set of interrogatories and requests for documents by Muller and his employer, Cumulus Media, as part of MacDonald’s lawsuit against them.

MacDonald is suing Muller for allegedly fabricating stories about MacDonald and falsely labeling MacDonald a “con man” on Muller’s morning show on WLS-AM.

In the documents filed today, MacDonald claimed that he has been unable to obtain a position with a new church “in whole or in part” as a result of Muller’s actions. MacDonald added that his economic losses include $1.9 million in lost salary/deferred compensation; $300,000 in lost intellectual property royalties and speaking engagements; and $500,000 in lost publishing.

In several cases, MacDonald objected to Muller’s request for documents, stating that they were confidential because of the Protective Order that’s part of MacDonald’s arbitration settlement with Harvest. These included requests for:

  • All documents and communications concerning or referencing the termination of Your position as Senior Pastor of the Harvest Bible Chapel.
  • All non-privileged documents and communications referring or relating to any lawsuit filed against You or the Harvest Bible Chapel, including, but not limited to, any discovery requests that were served in such lawsuits.
  • All non-privileged documents and communications referring or relating to any lawsuit filed by You or Harvest Bible Chapel.

MacDonald also objected to Muller’s request for MacDonald’s tax returns while MacDonald was employed at Harvest. In the document, the request is labeled an attempt to “harass” MacDonald. And the document states that MacDonald will produce the documents “upon the execution and entry of a Protective Order.”

MacDonald also objected to the following requests, and similarly said he would comply only if both sides agreed to a Protective Order:

  • All documents and communications concerning or referencing any criticisms or complaints pertaining to your conduct as a pastor.
  • All communications between You and any member of the Harvest Bible Chapel regarding your termination or sabbatical.
  • All documents substantiating Your allegation that You sustained “injury to [Your] reputation, humiliation, anxiety, embarrassment, mental anguish, the termination of [Your] position as Senior Pastor of HBC, and monetary damages” as a “proximate result of Defendant’s defamatory statements.”

A judge has not yet ruled on Muller’s document requests or interrogatories.

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29 thoughts on “Harvest Bible Chapel & James MacDonald Settle Arbitration & Agree to Keep Details Confidential”

  1. So much for Harvest and transparency. Sick, abusive, unrepentant thief MacDonald laughing all the way to the bank, and with the stupid audacity to sue Muller, who bravely helped reveal the truth about him.

      1. You have your right to an opinion although HBC is not a cult, nor are we brainwashed. Obedience to His truths is where we stand in the hopes of rebuilding again.

        1. With all due respect Rose, HBC grew largely at the expense of smaller churches within the area. If HBC closed, the Body in Chicago would be just fine.

        2. Typically I’m in line with the “I respect your opinion…” discourse, but at this point I just have to put it out there. Hoping to rebuild means bringing new people to HBC, an organization with a history of harm and deception. Anyone who hopes to persist the future of that organization (HBC) is selfish and mean spirited. Evidence has shown the place has done more harm than good. I wish circumstances were different.

        3. You are deluded. Harvest and JMac has caused so much damage to the body of Christ. Harvest did the right thing and got rid of JMac. But Harvest trained many preachers at Harvest University, and trained them in the ways of JMac. As a long time former of HBC, Harvest should hang its head in shame over the damaged it has caused and do the right thing and close its doors. I’m ashamed to have been part of HBC.

  2. If it’s true that Harvest chose to agree to keep the arbitration results confidential, then all elders involved need to resign immediately. They made a promise to the congregation that it would be public and if they chose not to honor their word on that then they’ve permanently lost the trust of their church they promised to protect.

  3. Persisting in the defamation lawsuit seems like a way of saying, “You all ARE going to have to pay attention to me, one way or another! I am not going away!!!”

  4. God says in 2 Cor.10:3-4=6: “For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.”

    What about Confession of sin,repentance, and restoration for those who have sinned? ( Galatians 6:1-3)
    Can anyone just imagine what would have been revealed about MacDonald’s deceit, lies, theft, and treachery through discoveries and disclosure? By the way that James MacDonald, Mancow Muller, and the Harvest elders have and re are behaving hiding sin, (Psalm 32:5) not repenting, etc. it is easy to see that they are all still secular men.

  5. I’m certain that HBC agreed to the protective order because if the info was made public it would implicate many former and current persons who aided JMac in his crimes and that, of course would open up a whole new can of worms for HBC. But really, no one got away with anything. We ALL will stand before the judgement seat of Christ.

    1. I’m not a lawyer, but a protective order seems to be fairly standard in this. Usually there are business procedures and policies and the like that are the secret sauce of the business, whether it’s a church, Liberty University, or a secular business. Yes it may also keep others secret but it seems it is legitimate.

      As far as HBC and the church receiving a settlement and not telling the details to the church, changes are the church’s insurance company paid. Thus isn’t not directly a loss to the church, although I would assume it requires higher premiums in the future. I don’t know if they are ever unable to get insurance after something like this.

      1. However, the governance currently in place at HBC promised the congregants they would not withhold any info of ongoing or settlement arbitration. This absolutely trumps any agreement that was negotiated between HBC and JMac. All the elders of HBC had to do was say no, we are not going to agree to a gag order, we made a promise, take your best shot. But because they are weak and ineffective and probably even implicated in the secret documents they are doing nothing more than covering their own butts. Sick and disgusting. .

  6. What a complete joke to blame Muller for James MacDonald not being able to secure another pastoral job. There are years of documentation about JMac’s ungodly, greedy behavior. (Thank you, Elephant’s Debt and Julie Roys!)

    How about the CT op-ed article about how it IS Christian to sue another believer?

    Think any church in their right mind would want to bring in a leader with that mindset??

    JMac has no one to blame except himself.

  7. No one gets away from God’s judgement. McDonald can gloat all he wants “thinking” he won, yet in the end he WILL have to account for what he did. We all will.

  8. Well it still looks like he has not repented. If only he would practice what he preached. Can’t listen to another word he says–but God did use him–God’s word will be preached in good motives and bad…

  9. Now we have proof straight from MacDonald himself that his salary was approx. $1.2 million per year (claimed loss of $1.9 million over the past 19 months). The Elders should have posted an announcement that they reached a settlement with MacDonald and that they were required to keep it confidential.

  10. Many of these pastors and their elder board, fool themselves into thinking that “pride” and “mismanagement of funds.” are not as serious as sins of the flesh – adultery, etc. They are fooling themselves and also, we are fools for going along with this type of thinking. “As a man thinketh in his heart…..”

  11. Sadly, “Disgraced celebrity pastor” could be the first phrase in a large fraction of articles on this site. Would be appropriate for John MacArthur at this point.

  12. “ MacDonald also objected to Muller’s request for MacDonald’s tax returns while MacDonald was employed at Harvest. In the document, the request is labeled an attempt to “harass” MacDonald.“

    Hmmm…this particular attempt to evade accountability sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

  13. Losses of $1.9 million….wow, I’m not for pastors taking a vow of poverty, but at some point, I have to wonder where all the money goes. Dare I say that Jmac might do well to buy something by Dave Ramsey and pay serious attention to it, as he appears to have allowed his dream home into foreclosure recently, too.

    Also worth noting is that if I represented one of the banks that hold Harvest’s mortgages, I’d be looking very closely for hints about this deal, as it represents (a) the cash generator of the church going away and (b) possibly a very significant chunk of change that would otherwise be devotable to that debt. It’s not like you can just sell a church easily to another gigantic church that can use the space, after all.

  14. This situation is incredibly disheartening. I can think of quite a few missionaries who are struggling in a big way and all the more because of covid. How does someone become a malignant narcissist such that they have no conscience?

  15. I just can’t help but ask, where did all the money go (millions and millions and millions) that JMac and those who aided him embezzled, misappropriated, manipulated, etc? Swiss bank account? Buried in the ground? His kids? And why is he and those who aided him not prosecuted for any number of crimes they commited? As I said in an earlier post, I have no problem believing that if the documents that undoubtedly contain this info were made public that HBC agreed to keep confidential (what a slap in the face to the congregation because the governance currently in place promised to disclose all aspects of the arbitration), those who left and those who still remain would be implicated in the crimes that brought JMac down.

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