More than three years ago, pastor and broadcaster James MacDonald was fired from Harvest Bible Chapel, a Chicago-area megachurch. The messy controversy was marked with vitriol and numerous resignations and lawsuits. Now, however, hopeful signs are emerging of restoration and reconciliation.
On Facebook last week, MacDonald posted photos of him riding motorcycles with one man who helped end the pastor’s tenure at Harvest. “Recently had another reconciling conversation with one of the Elders from the board that fired me back in 2019,” MacDonald writes. “This time Marcel Olar, praising God to be reconciled to this dear brother. #mutualhumility #forgiveoneanother #gratefultoGod”
Reconciliation: ‘The Best Testimony of Your Life’
More than 6,000 people have liked MacDonald’s post, with many offering encouraging words about the relational progress. “The essence of our Lord is as a peacemaker,” one person writes. “The best testimony of your life would be to be reconciled one to another to [each] leader involved. ‘As far as it depends on you’ be at peace with all men. It does take two willing parties. Praise be to God.”
Someone writes, “In God’s timing and under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, forgiveness, peace, reconciliation and restoration can happen!! GLORY TO GOD!!” Another comment reads: “Your attitude of Biblical forgiveness to those that wronged you throughout all of this continues to inspire me to be more like Christ brother!”
Someone else notes: “I’ve learned walking through almost 40 years of church ministry, elders are like all of us. They are broken and jacked up like everyone else, sometimes they just have to get to the recognition.” Another comment reads: “I can’t imagine the [loss] and grief you’ve experienced from this. Praise God there’s communication and hopefully More healing and reconciliation on the way.”
James MacDonald and Harvest: Years of Discord
ChurchLeaders has reported extensively on MacDonald and Harvest, which began experiencing unrest back in 2013. The headlines really heated up after the December 2018 publication of “Hard Times at Harvest,” a lengthy exposé by investigative journalist Julie Roys.
Roys detailed evidence from former Harvest elders, employees, and members that alleges MacDonald engaged in “an ongoing pattern of relational and financial abuse, a lack of transparency and outright deception.” MacDonald sued several of his critics—something that would happen more than once.
After Harvest elders fired MacDonald in February 2019, calling him “harmful” to the church, the two parties went through arbitration regarding his former broadcast ministry Walk in the Word. Several elders and leaders at Harvest resigned during all the upheaval.
Last June, MacDonald launched a public attack on Roys, calling her website a “millstone ministry.” The former pastor is still after Roys, tweeting earlier this month that she’s hosting a “faux #discernment [conference] = Slanderers For Jesus.” MacDonald linked to a Protestia.com article about a “fake charity,” regarding a request for donations through a partnership with Judson University.