Last week, on Thursday morning, Josh Caterer became the second member of “The Void” to explicitly post an open statement on The Elephant’s Debt. This, of course, followed Mike Bryant’s initial statement, which was posted in December 2012.
Now, today, Mike Mahoney, a member from the earliest days of Harvest, a one-time Elder Assistant, and a counselor in the Biblical Soul Care Ministry has asked to have his statement put up on the website. It reads as follows:
I have been at Harvest Bible Chapel since 1989. From the earliest days of HBC, my wife and I loved and benefited from the teaching ministry of James MacDonald. During those early years, we became friends with the MacDonald family. In fact, when Heather and I struggled in our marriage, James was instrumental in counseling us and helping us to save our marriage.
In the mid-1990s, we began a lay marriage counseling ministry through the church. We faithfully ministered to hundreds of hurting couples; and thankfully were used by the Lord as a tool in reconciling many of these marriages. During this season, I was also asked and did in fact serve as Elder Assistant, charged with ministering to and praying on behalf of the congregation.
In 2008, I was personally invited by James MacDonald to join the church staff. I served as the Director of Marriage Ministries under Rick Donald. After my first year on staff I transitioned to a counseling position in the Biblical Soul Care Ministry. During my time on staff, I became aware of several concerning issues regarding the character of James MacDonald. I kept this largely to myself in the hopes that the elders and the Holy Spirit might work upon my Pastor. Earlier this year, it became clear that my hopes were ill-founded.
James MacDonald sent an emissary, who approached me on my day off with a message. This individual made it clear that James wanted me to come and meet with him in his office to assure him of my loyalty. I was given three weeks to comply or I would lose my job. This conversation came on the heels of other passive-aggressive inquires about my loyalty through other emissaries sent by James. Given the decline in James’ character and the manner in which I was being treated as an employee, it seemed wiser for me to resign than to confront James MacDonald over these issues. Over the years, I had seen many good men and women confront James, only to walk away from the confrontation deeply wounded. Rather than experiencing this myself, it seemed safer just to leave on my own terms.
Unwilling to accept my resignation, my boss Garrett Higbee asked me to attend a meeting with him and Rick Donald. The purpose of this meeting was to inquire about my resignation; and at that time, I made my reasons clear. I said in no uncertain terms that it was the declining character of James MacDonald that had lead me to make this decision. Not surprisingly, they attempted to defend James, but were left answerless when I confronted them over more recent incidents. This lead to a follow up meeting with James himself.
At this meeting, I finally confronted James with all of my concerns. In response he became very angry and yelled throughout much of the meeting. Also, as he is known to do, he twisted the entire meeting to focus not upon his issues, but upon my emotional response to them. Somehow, I left that meeting thinking that I was the one with the problem. Because of this, I foolishly agreed to stay on staff.
At a latter meeting with Rick Donald I was informed that I had to submit to counseling with my boss. At the conclusion of these counseling sessions I was to meet with James again to tell him all that I had learned from this counseling. I quickly came to realize that James had not answered any of my concerns, and their request for me to enter counseling was absurd. It was at that point that I resigned.
Looking back on it now, I realize that my story is not that different from many others that I have heard over the years. When you are on staff at Harvest, there is a culture that encourages you to remain silent. It is a culture of fear. Today, I want to stand with the other men who have publicly spoken on these issues. I initially requested on 9 November, 2012, that my name be added to the Void as a statement of solidarity with the other members of the Void and to confirm the validity of this website’s concerns. However, that statement is not enough.
In a move to protect the Church, and those staff members who are still experiencing the emotional turmoil that I and so many others once experienced, I stand now to say that the problem is not necessarily with you. The core problem at Harvest is the character of James MacDonald, a pastor I once respected.