Chicago-based megachurch Harvest Bible Chapel has awarded its former pastor, James Macdonald, $1.45 million and the right to continue his ministry, Walk in the Word, following a contentious falling out between both parties last year.
As Christian Headlines previously reported, MacDonald, who founded Harvest Bible Chapel, was fired last February for making “inappropriate” comments as well as “harmful” conduct amid a financial investigation of MacDonald and the church. MacDonald had led the megachurch for 30 years.
According to Christianity Today, in separate statements last week, both parties addressed the arbitration process, which went through the Institute Christian Conciliation. While an attempt at “relational reconciliation” was made between MacDonald and the Harvest elders, it would later fall through.
MacDonald, however, would be able to retain his teaching ministry, Walk in the Word, under James MacDonald’s ministries, and not under HBC’s oversight.
The church elders explained in a statement that MacDonald will also receive $1.2 million along with a parcel property in Crystal Lake, Illinois. Additionally, the former pastor will have access to the ministry’s equipment, books, and digital resources.
MacDonald will also be reimbursed an additional quarter-million dollars for selling his former home and will receive compensation towards his retirement benefits.
Despite tensions between both entities, the elders apologized to MacDonald and the church for failing to “live at peace with all men, as far as it depends on you” (Rom. 12:18) throughout this process.
Going forward, the elders will shift their focus towards HBC’s future.
In MacDonald’s statement, he criticized the megachurch for pushing a” false narrative in financial matters” as well as a “hostile takeover” of his ministry.
Despite confessing his relational failings, the pastor noted that he lost longtime friends for believing the “HBC leaders’ narrative” and refused “our efforts to communicate with them regarding the truth.”
“Please pray that HBC leaders begin welcoming our reconciliation efforts,” he said. “Our hope is for a joint statement owning what they have done, that ends the stonewalling and prevents having to clear our own name – a biblical but last option. After 20 months, we are just days away from that decision.
“Please pray with us that church leaders will finally yield and make peace, so the church itself is not further injured by the many deceptions,” MacDonald continued. “We have simply reached the end of our ability to carry all of this alone.”
Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.