270 Thousand Embezzled from James McDonald’s Harvest Bible Church (Less than 1% of Giving)
James McDonald, whose megachurch joined the SBC in 2015, has been busy frivolously suing blogger-journalists for hurting his image by having the audacity to publish true things. Harvest Bible Church made McDonald step down from his position as “president” of the organization in 2017, but retaining him as a celebrity teacher. As Pulpit & Pen reported at the time, this is after more than 600 thousand dollars allegedly went missing from the coffers.
Harvest Bible Church members were reportedly sent a mass email on October 23, 2018, alerting them to several controversies. Included in that letter, aside from notifying them a staff member was credibly accused of sexual assault and a brief mention of their frivolous lawsuits, the church explained that 270 thousand dollars was embezzled from the church. Never fear, however…that’s less than one percent of the church’s overall giving.
The church email is as follows…
October 23, 2018
Dear Church Family:
The mission given to us by Jesus Christ is so wonderful, isn’t it? We get to tell the world the good news that Christ is risen, sins are forgiven, and joy is available to all who trust Him in everything. Good News.
Maybe that is why it’s so hard to give difficult news. Nevertheless, we have a responsibility to be transparent with our congregation in order to keep trust high.
Last week, we discovered evidence that a non-ministry member of our staff who worked in operations defrauded the church of an amount of money. If the evidence proves true, this would lead to a criminal charge being filed, and a preliminary report was filed today with the Elgin police department. The amount of money in question appears to be less than 1% of our annual budget and the time period appears to be less than a year. This person has never led any public ministry in our church and is on leave pending the completion of this investigation. We are looking to lay leaders and outside expertise who will work with our insurance on maximum recovery of funds. A full report will come to the congregation as soon as the investigation is complete and the facts are fully known.
I am also sorry to report that a youth director who served with us a few short months was involuntarily released last January when illegal and disqualifying behavior came to light. The three affected families, as well as parents of students on those campuses, as well as DCFS were notified immediately. Find here the statement issued to the press and their article here. The June call they reference was a follow up from Craig Steiner, our Aurora Campus Pastor. That call seems to have provoked what the initial January reports did not. All of this is documented.
Please also be in prayer about the lawsuit filed to protect our church from lies that seek to discredit our ministry. For example, in the matter mentioned above, we have had to resist extensive efforts to distort the truth about a matter our church handled with integrity toward all parties involved. You can read more about the legal protection we are seeking in the October Elder Update, including our biblical rationale and how we came to this decision.
You may direct any questions in these matters to our Elders in writing at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We should not be surprised when the enemy is attacking and agitating, “as though something strange were happening to [us]” (1 Peter 4:12). We are involved in a battle of intense fury, where the enemy is scheming to knock us down. May we redouble our efforts to keep the Good News central and our Vertical focus strong.
Please pray and “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-11).
God is good, and we can trust Him.
Pastor James and Pastor Rick
Lead Pastors Trei Tatum, Luke MacDonald, Jeff Donaldson, Mohan Zachariah, and Landon MacDonald