James MacDonald Takes ‘Indefinite Sabbatical’ from Harvest Bible Chapel

News & Reporting | 1/16/2019 | Staff
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Harvest Bible Chapel announced today that James MacDonald will step away from the multisite church he founded and pastored for over 30 years while the congregation undergoes a “peacemaking process” to improve its organizational structure and reconcile with concerned members both past and present.

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In the wake of mounting criticism, MacDonald has taken an “indefinite sabbatical from all preaching and leadership” at the Chicago-area megachurch.

People - Ways - Statement - Sent - Harvest

“I am grieved that people I love have been hurt by me in ways they felt they could not express to me directly and have not been able to resolve,” he said in a statement sent to Harvest members. “I blame only myself for this and want to devote my entire energy to understanding and addressing these recurring patterns”

In recent years, MacDonald had seen the “hard times at Harvest”—the title of an investigation published about the church last month—as behind them.

Issues - Leadership - Accountability - Members - Staff

He repeatedly said that past issues over leadership accountability, disgruntled former members and staff, and even his own temperament had improved over the years, and the church had repented of its mistakes dating back as far as 12 years ago.

The fact that the church was “happier and healthier,” Harvest elders said, was part of why they opted to file a lawsuit against their critics in the fall, citing a desire to protect their congregation from further concerns raised by The Elephant’s Debt, a critical blog run by two former members, and Julie Roys, who investigated the church for World magazine.

Lawsuit - Reporting - Issues - Forefront - Harvest

But the lawsuit and subsequent reporting brought more issues to the forefront and rallied Harvest critics, who raised allegations of financial and organizational mismanagement. After the church dropped its...
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