Less than a week after dropping their lawsuit against three critics of the church, Harvest Bible Chapel has announced that its founder and lead pastor James MacDonald will be taking an “indefinite sabbatical.”
In a letter from the church’s elders posted to the Harvest Bible Chapel website, the elders wrote, “We have tried a variety of different strategies to address external criticisms over the past several years. It has become apparent that these efforts have failed to fully identify and address our personal failures, sins, and errors in leadership, thus perpetuating a continuation of the criticism.”
The letter continued, “In prayerful reflection upon all that has happened and how we got here, a private meeting of the Executive Committee of the Elders on Monday, January 14, led to the decision to be part of a peacemaking process that seeks both reconciliation and change where needed, which was reviewed by the entire Elder Board last night.”
As a part of the church’s “peacemaking process,” the board decided that Pastor MacDonald would be taking “an indefinite sabbatical from all preaching and leadership” at the Chicago-based church.
The letter continued noting that MacDonald will only be limitedly participating in the “peacemaking process” with the church. The Elders wrote, “He has recused himself fully from any direction of this peacemaking process, other than to participate when and how requested.”
The letter did note that MacDonald will continue to preach at Harvest Naples through some of the winter, pending the completion of the church’s mending process and the presentation of a full report to the congregation.
MacDonald added an addendum to the Elder’s letter where he admitted his grief over how some of his actions have negatively affected others. MacDonald said, “I have battled cycles of injustice, hurt anger, and fear which have wounded others without cause. I have carried great shame about this pattern in certain relationships that can only be called sin.”
“I am grieved that people I love have been hurt by me in ways they felt they could not express to me directly and have not been able to resolve. I blame only myself for this and want to devote my entire energy to understanding and addressing these recurring patterns,” he added.
According to Christianity Today, this move comes following the church’s decision to drop their lawsuit against two men who are former members of the church and run a blog called The Elephant’s Debt which has which openly criticized the church on several occasions and Julia Roys, who wrote an investigative piece for World magazine spotlighting mismanagement within the church.
Photo courtesy: Unspalsh/Aaron Burden