Two top Harvest Bible Chapel pastors today announced they’re resigning, following a “season” of difficulty sparked by the termination and scandal involving disgraced celebrity pastor, James MacDonald.
Saying he had hit a “wall of exhaustion” in June, Lead Ministry Pastor Greg Bradshaw said he is not only leaving Harvest, but also the ministry.
“It’s hard for me, but I’m really trusting God,” Bradshaw said. “This is not about a senior pastor. It’s not about a campus pastor. It’s about Jesus. And it’s about the family of God.”
Similarly, Ed Ollie, lead pastor at Harvest’s Chicago Cathedral Campus, said that in February 2019 (when MacDonald was fired), he felt called by God to pastor Harvest through the following “season.” But during an annual “goal review” last August, Ollie said it became “clear that that season was coming to an end.”
“I’m in a space where, while I’m excited, I’m also mourning because this is an amazing church,” Ollie said. “And this has been an amazing season that we’ve had together. But it’s time.”
Harvest fired James MacDonald about 20 months ago after lewd comments on a “hot mic” recording of MacDonald were aired on a Chicago radio station. For months, MacDonald had been under scrutiny for published allegations of bullying, financial misconduct, and a pattern of deception.
This summer, Harvest found itself at the center of controversy again, when it was discovered that some students attending a camp run by Harvest had been subjected to hazing.
Since MacDonald’s departure, Harvest has been seeking a senior pastor, but has not yet hired one. According to an Elder Update in August, Harvest, with the help of the search firm, Vanderbloemen, has narrowed its search to a “smaller group of candidates.”
The multi-site, Chicago-area megachurch, which once had about 12,000 in weekly attendance, reportedly has about half that many attending today. Last year, one of the church’s seven campuses—the one in Niles—separated from Harvest and became a fully independent church, called CityLine Bible Church.
According to Harvest’s latest financial document, the church remains more than $36 million in debt and has been running a deficit budget all year.
Pastor Ollie said he and Bradshaw came to their conclusions to resign on the same day, independent of one another.
“We’re sad about it,” Bradshaw said, “but we know God is leading us.”
Worship pastor Eddie Hoagland, who appeared in the resignation video with Bradshaw and Ollie, admitted that the twin resignations could be “unsettling” for those who remain at the church.
“This is where we have to remind ourselves that this is the church of Jesus Christ and He’s the one who’s leading this . . .” Hoagland said. “He’s not just going to leave us in the dark. And so we know that there’s something God’s doing.”
Bradshaw says in the video that he’s been at Harvest for 17 years.
Ollie came to Harvest in August 2017. Prior to that, he was senior associate pastor at Hermitage Hills Baptist Church in the Nashville, TN, area.