2/13/2019 -- After much recent turmoil over leadership style and alleged financial misconduct, elders of Harvest Bible Chapel announced Wednesday morning that senior pastor James MacDonald has been fired from the Chicago-area megachurch he founded 30 years ago.
The statement posted by church elders cites “conduct that the Elders believe is contrary and harmful to the best interests of the church” combined with "a very recent development that has caused us to take immediate action" as the reason for MacDonald’s termination.
From the statement:
Following a lengthy season of review, reflection, and prayerful discussion, the Elders of Harvest Bible Chapel had determined that Pastor MacDonald should be removed from his role of Senior Pastor. That timeline accelerated, when on Tuesday morning highly inappropriate recorded comments made by Pastor MacDonald were given to media and reported. Given that and other conduct under consideration, in accordance with the procedures in our Bylaws, Pastor MacDonald was removed as Senior Pastor and as an Elder of the church for engaging in conduct that the Elders believe is contrary and harmful to the best interests of the church. His employment has been terminated from Harvest Bible Chapel, effective today, February 12, 2019. This decision was made with heavy hearts and much time spent in earnest prayer, followed by input from various trusted outside advisors.
The "highly inappropriate recorded comments made by Pastor MacDonald" appears to reference utterances, purportedly by MacDonald, which were secretly recorded and given to radio host Mancow Muller, who aired them Tuesday [begins at roughly 1:07].
Among the comments attributed to MacDonald are "[Christianity Today's] Mark Galli is a certifiable pr*ck," a reference to a "plan to put child porn on [Christianity Today's Harold Smith's] computer," a reference to Mark Galli and Harvest critic Julie Roys having an affair, and a vulgar reference to Christianity Today's Ed Stetzer.
The radio host, who claims to have 100 hours of recordings of MacDonald, tweeted Wednesday morning after news of the firing:
The worst (nuclear option) was never used thankfully. I’m not bragging about what I have -I’m just saying I’m glad I didn’t have to go there. It’s much uglier than anyone will thankfully ever know. Go get professional help James. This is “covered in love.”
Harvest Bible Chapel is one of the biggest churches in Illinois, with about 13,000 attendees across seven locations.
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