Head elders to step down at Harvest
Members of the executive committee of elders at Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago announced Saturday they will resign in the coming months as the church attempts to recover from a leadership crisis that culminated with the firing of Senior Pastor James MacDonald last week. At weekend services, church elder Bill Sperling read a statement acknowledging “failures in direction, discipline, and response time.” The statement said MacDonald exhibited “a sinful pattern of inappropriate language, anger, and domineering behavior” that the elders should have addressed sooner and with greater public accountability.
The church fired MacDonald after a recording of him making vulgar and inflammatory remarks aired Tuesday on WLS in Chicago on a program hosted by Mancow Muller, who attends Harvest and was a close friend of MacDonald’s. In December, an investigative report in WORLD Magazine detailed financial mismanagement and a culture of deception and intimidation at the church. The elders announced in January that MacDonald was taking an indefinite sabbatical.
In the wake of MacDonald’s firing, the five-member executive committee of elders will step down as soon as a replacement committee can be put in place, according to the statement Sperling read. The executive committee, according to church bylaws, has sole responsibility for approving the annual budget and salaries for senior staff. The elders also announced this weekend the formation of a team of congregants, staff, outside professionals, and elders called Harvest 2020 that will review the church’s leadership structure in the coming months. Harvest member Rick Korte, CEO of a Chicago-area industrial corporation, will lead the team on a volunteer basis.
Additionally, Harvest plans to return its campus in Naples, Fla., to local control and to halt the establishment of a new campus in Hinsdale, Ill. Before his termination was announced last week, MacDonald had planned to preach at the Naples campus during his sabbatical—a decision local Pastor John Secrest objected to before being fired. And, according to the statement, Harvest plans to announce changes soon to the composition of its elder board: “We recognize now that the large size of our elder board of over 30 men has made it difficult to make decisions during times of adversity.”
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