On the 10th of February 2013, James MacDonald and the leaders of HBC held a meeting for the staff and lay-leaders of the church. Among other issues that were discussed, MacDonald shared his thoughts regarding congregationalism as a form of church governance. You may recall that back in June of 2011, MacDonald posted an article on his blog entitled, “Congregationalism is from Satan.” This hyperbolic blog post was nothing other than his personal response to Winnetka Bible Church’s second vote declining Harvest’s offer to be absorbed into the Harvest Bible Fellowship. In his most recent comments on the subject, MacDonald informed the leaders that congregationalism was undermining Christian Barbosu’s ministry in Romania, leaving Harvest Metanoia on unstable footing. Even if one is willing to believe that congregationalism is partially responsible for the troubles in Romania, it would be grossly unfair to the situation on the ground to only cite Congregationalism for the troubles in Romania.
On the 11th of February, 2013, The Elephant’s Debt was contacted by an individual with strong ties to Harvest. According to this source, a member of Harvest Metanoia (Romania) had recently translated The Elephant’s Debt from English into Romanian; and was passing the site around within the local congregation. According to other sources that are active in the congregation, Metanoia’s Senior Pastor, Christian Barbosu, attempted to calm the growing storm by preaching a sermon on the topic of MacDonald’s character. According to these sources, the congregation was reportedly distressed over MacDonald’s admission of gambling and his excessive salary.
Compounding the problem was the fact that Metanoia had only two years prior discovered that their senior pastor, Christian Barbosu, was being compensated from the United States. What made this particularly troubling to the conservative, Eastern European congregation was that they had been sacrificially giving so that their pastor might have an average salary according to Romanian standards of living. They knew nothing of Barbosu’s support coming from the United States; and were greatly troubled by their pastor’s failure to inform them of this practice.
Since these revelations, Christian Barbosu has willingly resigned from the pastorate, and two former elders who had left the church in protest were brought back to lead the congregation. Since the change in leadership, Metanoia has severed ties with Harvest Bible Fellowship, maintaining their association with the Baptist denomination. For further details, you can visit their homepage, which can be translated here via Google translator.
Since the initial publication of this post, a reader informed us that Christian Barbosu replanted a church on the 26th of February, 2013, in Arad, Romania, the same city as Metanoia. Also, the Harvest Bible Fellowship web page indicates that the Arad, Romania HBC will be “launching” in 2013. It is not clear from either website the nature of the relationship between Barbosu’s new church and HBF.
So once again, MacDonald is leaving his congregation ill-informed and ill-equipped to ask meaningful questions about the affairs of Harvest Bible Chapel and the Fellowship that it leads.