Nine months ago, on the 7th of October, The Elephant’s Debt was launched. Five days after the initial publication, James MacDonald addressed the congregation after the weekend services of 13-14 October 2012. In this address regarding the “detractors of his ministry,” MacDonald informed the congregation that a special gathering of more than 200 pastors, elders, deacons and spouses had met on Thursday October 11th. He characterized the meeting as being marked by more unity than he has ever experienced in the history of Harvest. He also said that Harvest has never been stronger financially or had better accountability than at the present time.
On the heals of this pronouncement of unparalleled unity, the elders of Harvest Bible Chapel published a letter on 19 October 2012. This letter, which was a direct response to the publication of TED, attempted to make ten significant refutations. As a mark of this unparalleled unity It was signed by all the elders that were on the board at that time.
In fact, many of you may recall the special song, authored by James MacDonald himself, that was performed during this season titled, “We’re United.” During this season of controversy this song was used to unite the congregation, becoming the symbol around which the congregation could see these matters in a binary, us-versus-them mentality. Thus, the rhetorical answer to the facts asserted by TED was that the leaders “in the know” were with MacDonald in full, unparalleled unity.
Earlier today, 22 June 2013, an emergency meeting of the Harvest Elders was called. This meeting was necessary to address a new crisis that had emerged from within their own ranks, threatening the unparalleled unity of Harvest. The central issue on the table was the pending resignation of three elders that signed the October 19th letter. These men include: Scott Phelps, Dan Marquardt and Barry Slabaugh.
According to multiple sources, at least one of these elders, who shall not be identified at this point, resigned due to his ongoing concerns with MacDonald and the handling of the TED controversy. We cannot report the reasons for the other two elder’s resignations, but the timing of these resignations at an emergency meeting leaves reasonable doubt as to whether these mens are resigning with similar concerns of their own.
Should Harvest leadership decide to announce these resignations to you, please take careful note of what they say. If they say anything to the effect that these men cycled off for no extraordinary or controversial reasons, know that you are hearing partial truths at best and in at least one case, you are being lied to.
As per Marc Abbatacola’s letter in the wake of the Roy McCaulley termination, wherein he asked for privacy for Roy, we would ask you to remember that Scott, Dan and Barry “are dearly loved members of Harvest Bible Chapel, and we ask that you not burden them with personal questions during this challenging time.”
Just hours after we published this post, HBC published a statement on their website in response to these resignations. Their statement was subsequently taken down from their website, and then HBC put it back up on their website approximately a month after deleting it. The HBC announcement is posted below, or it can be found here. Also, HBC subsequently released their letter to Phelps and Slabaugh, accepting their resignation, and a copy of that letter can be found here.
The Elders want to thank the church family for their faithful prayers during this past ministry year. As Pastor James heads out on his break, we want to express our appreciation for the humility he has demonstrated, the grace he has given so frequently, and the perseverance he has modeled. The Elders are unanimously satisfied with his response to the criticism received and are working hard behind the scenes during his break to continue the expansion of Elder authority in our church.
We also want to report our gratitude for the unity that has prevailed among our Elders during this season. God has been gracious to consistently maintain our unity of purpose and spirit. An isolated dissension among three Elders, Scott Phelps, Dan Marquardt, and Barry Slabaugh, has come to a climax in recent weeks. These men have expressed dissatisfaction over many months with how compensation is set, how elder authority is shared, and whether Pastor James has truly owned his part in past conflict. Though we sought unity with these men over many months, it became increasingly clear that their contrary opinions were unrelenting and separate from the other thirty-two men. With regret, we accept their resignations, not because they raised concerns or disagreed with the majority, but because, in the end, they could not come comfortably under our collective authority. In accepting their resignations, we purpose to continue our progress in unity and focus upon the purposes and priorities of Harvest Bible Chapel. Please be assured of our active oversight in providing meaningful accountability to our Senior Staff.
We solicit your prayers for Pastor James and Kathy and their family as they take a break from weekly pulpit ministry until August. They will spend time in rest and refreshment and work behind the scenes to help prepare for our 25th anniversary year of ministry. We are excited about all that God has done and continues to do for our church.