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Harvest removes MacDonald as senior pastor

by Lynde Langdon
Posted 2/13/19, 10:53 am

The elders of Harvest Bible Chapel fired James MacDonald as senior pastor of the Chicago megachurch after a radio show aired audio Tuesday of vulgar and inflammatory comments MacDonald made against Christianity Today leadership and journalist Julie Roys. In a statement released Wednesday morning, the elders said they had decided, after a lengthy time of reflection and prayer, to remove MacDonald from the position, and “that timeline accelerated, when on Tuesday morning highly inappropriate recorded comments made by Pastor MacDonald were given to media and reported.”

The remarks aired on WLS in Chicago on a program hosted by Mancow Muller, who attends Harvest and was a close friend of MacDonald’s. Muller did not identify the speaker on the air, but no one has denied it was MacDonald’s voice. The recording included obscene references to Christianity Today CEO Harold Smith, editor Mark Galli, and contributing editor Ed Stetzer, along with a threat to put child pornography on Smith’s computer. MacDonald is also heard accusing Galli of having an affair with Roys, a journalist whose December 2018 investigative report in WORLD Magazine detailed financial mismanagement and a culture of deception and intimidation at the church. “It’s disgusting,” Roys wrote on her blog Tuesday. “Galli and I have never had anything but a professional relationship, and it’s repulsive that anyone—a pastor, no less—would make a joke about that.”

MacDonald took an indefinite sabbatical from the pastorate in January, a move that sparked another controversy at a Harvest-affiliated church in Naples, Fla., where MacDonald planned to preach during the winter.

“A more detailed communication regarding next steps for our church will take place in our weekend services,” church elders said in Wednesday’s announcement.

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Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital’s managing editor and reports on popular and fine arts. She lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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  • AlanE
    Posted: Wed, 02/13/2019 11:21 am

    Nothing to rejoice over here. Another day of sad news for the Church. But perhaps we become a little wiser about the dangers of elevating people into powerful positions as a result of this. May healing begin soon.

  •  Greg Mangrum's picture
    Greg Mangrum
    Posted: Wed, 02/13/2019 01:33 pm

    We can rejoice that there is still Christian leadership and that this unrepentant sinner has been removed from the pastorate.

  •  Brendan Bossard's picture
    Brendan Bossard
    Posted: Wed, 02/13/2019 01:34 pm

    1 Corinthians 13 and the first part of Philippians 2 come to mind.  I hope for healing, too.

  • Eual D. Blanset...
    Posted: Wed, 02/13/2019 02:11 pm

    Based on the limited information provided in the article, it appears that James MacDonald has been displaying the kind of behavior reported for some time.  It is my guess, however, on the occasion when the recording was made, that MacDonald was set up.  It appears that someone close to him, with a recorder in full operation, provoked MacDonald into making statements that could be used against him.  No doubt, it was probably not hard to do, based on the hints in the article about his previous behavior.  Ettu Brute.  

  •  LARRY MINTER's picture
    Posted: Wed, 02/13/2019 02:36 pm

    The heart (Even of the most popular pastors) "is deceitful, and desperately wicked".  I'm thankful that God is revealing his heart for all to see.  I also hope that he will see his heart for what it is and cry out , "Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions..." Ps 51

  • JKI
    Posted: Wed, 02/13/2019 03:58 pm

    "For those who exalt themselves will be humbled."  Matthew 23:12

  • nevertheless
    Posted: Wed, 02/13/2019 04:50 pm

    I feel really, really sorry for the people of Harvest. One and all hoodwinked into believing that bullying of that sort was normative for Christian behavior, that sanctification required one to be abused to be valid. 

  •  CaptTee's picture
    Posted: Wed, 02/13/2019 10:54 pm

    Whenever someone makes their ministry more about themselves than Jesus, they can expect trouble.

    God doesn't like competition, especially from those who claim to be on His side.

    I pray the the elders and members of Harvest Bible Chapel learn the right lessons from this sad affair.

  • OldMike
    Posted: Thu, 02/14/2019 05:02 pm

    On the one hand, we are to support our pastors, and on the other hand, to not stand for wrong behavior. A difficult balancing act in some situations. 

    Apparently McDonald is a man with incredible gifts as well as incredible flaws that he has not put under submission to the Lord. Praying for this church, and McDonald.