Recently resigned HBC Elder, Dan Marquart, cites MacDonald’s behavior, secrecy regarding salary and HBC authority structure as the reasons for his departure.

8-8 Update

On June 22, 2013, we informed you that three HBC elders, Scott Phelps, Dan Marquardt and Barry Slabaugh, resigned from the elder board, and now, the disclosure of Marquardt’s resignation letter and other communication provides a far more detailed account of the serious character concerns that drove Marquardt to resign.

On July 23, 2013, we received an email with four documents attached, including: 1) Marquardt’s email to his friends, 2) his resignation letter, 3) a response from the HBC elder board, and 4) Marquardt’s response to the HBC elder board letter. The resignation letter was making its rounds through the electronic world while we were taking steps to verify the authenticity of these documents as well as ensure there were no legal, privacy issues with publishing all of this material. Being satisfied that these documents are indeed authentic, we were prepared to publish these documents when Dan Marquardt commented at another blog, confirming he was the author of the resignation letter in question. We are publishing these documents with no editorial, but we are only highlighting the most relevant portions for easier perusal.

Dan Marquardt’s Email to Friends

Dear Friend,

You are probably aware by now that last month I resigned from the Elder Board at Harvest Bible Chapel. My resignation was followed by two other Elders that shared my concerns. Over the last month I have sought God’s guidance through prayer and the Word, as well as council from friends and other pastors if and how I should share my concerns with friends that still call Harvest their church home in a way that honors the LORD. It was important to me not to make a rash or emotional decision, but one that was prayed through and that the LORD guided. As followers of Jesus we are to be champions of the truth especially when it involves the bride of Christ, His church, and so I feel compelled to share this information with you. These actions are not out of bitterness or anger with Harvest’s leadership but rather love and caring for you and the church.

If you were to come to our home a year or two from now and the subject of HBC and my departure came up and I shared with you then what I know now I believe that some of you might feel angry, hurt, maybe even betrayed that I didn’t share my concerns with you earlier. Please be clear, I am NOT telling you to leave Harvest. That decision is between you and the LORD. You should be aware of what transpired and led to me stepping down and my decision to find a new church. As an Elder the biblical order of obligation is: 1. To Christ 2. To the Congregation and 3. The pastors/staff. A couple scripture verses that speak to my heart are:

25 Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Ephesians 4:25

18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. Romans 1:18

It saddens me that I have been told firsthand that some in leadership are referring to me and the Elders who also resigned as wolves and that we need to repent. That could not be further from the truth. You know my character and this email is not intended to defend me but to simply share with you the truth as I have no desire to suppress it. The three items that I have included are: My letter of resignation, the Elder Letter addressed to me and the two other Elders who resigned which we received via email (note the language in the second paragraph) and the last item (immediately below) is my reply to the Elder Letter to which I was told I will not be receiving a response to. To best understand them you should read them in that sequence.

Jennifer and I have been blessed to find another wonderful church home and we look forward to serving the LORD as long as He gives us breath. Have a blessed week and feel free to call, email, or visit anytime.

Your friend and brother in Christ,

Dan Marquardt

Dan Marquardt’s Resignation Letter to HBC Elders

June 21, 2013

After many months of prayer and after reflecting on our last meeting together it is with a heavy heart that I submit my resignation as an Elder of Harvest Bible Chapel. This decision is not an impulse nor an emotional reaction but where I feel the LORD has led me to act. In good conscience and out of love for the church and our pastors I could not sit back and quietly rotate off in ninety days. That route would’ve been disingenuous and dishonest to the congregation and the LORD. My family and I just surpassed the sixteen year mark at Harvest and considering that I’ve known James since before he was a pastor that clarifies the magnitude of my decision.

I’m thankful for the privilege it has been to serve with each of you and I leave the Elder Board and Harvest Bible Chapel without anger or bitterness but admittedly with sadness. Harvest, James, and all of you that compose the leadership will be in my prayers. This decision is a compilation of matters that are intertwined together but the ultimate affirmation came the other night. From my first phone calls and emails to Robert sharing minor concerns to major concerns I have always endeavored to show respect and be patient. Personally I strive for continual improvement in everything I do. My disposition is not one of a critical spirit and I am often an optimist, but there are many things that we do not see eye-to-eye on. It is not my desire, nor has it ever been, to cause anyone strife, but rather to address things in Christ’s church that I don’t believe are healthy or in the best interest of the church.

James has asserted multiple times that my concerns have consumed fifty percent of the XLT’s time for the last six months and that confuses me. Not because I brought matters to their attention, but that I haven’t seen any changes. Additionally, the assertion was clear that I was attempting to monopolize time and be a critical spirit when neither could be further from the truth. James thought it absurd that I could come up with twenty concerns in “one of the fastest growing churches in America”. Yes, Harvest is growing and giving is up, praise God for that! While growth and giving are important, don’t use those two metrics to assess that all is healthy.

James has repeatedly stated that he is not in a good place and I affirm that. In our recent meeting of seven elders (Scott, Barry, James, Rick, Robert, Bill, and myself) when we requested James disclose his income to the elders he replied, “I would lose 1,000 people before I would disclose that.” This is not unique as James rebuked Greg Bradshaw in our December Elder meeting in a similar light when Greg told James, “I’m concerned about the sheep.” James rebuked him, “Who cares about twelve or fourteen families whose faces or names I don’t even know leave!… What about the shepherd?!” When Christ, the Good Shepherd, stated that He would leave the other ninety nine to save the one, that is where a Pastor’s shepherding heart should remain. It concerns me deeply and I warn that James is heading down a very dangerous path if his heart on this matter isn’t made right.

During that meeting of seven, Rick stated clearly that they did not trust us. Apparently, grounds of questioning our pastor’s behavior are perceived as an attack on him and the church, rather than a loving concern for protecting him and the church. It is important to note that Scott, Barry, and I were appointed to the Pastoral Care Team and it was our obligation to care for our pastors with special emphasis on our Senior Pastor.

In our full Elder meeting I was shocked that James mocked Scott by referencing their phone conversation earlier that day. During that call Scott stated that he only had one person he wasn’t reconciled with (under the subject of James’ lengthy trail of broken relationships) and during our meeting James deflected those concerns by mocking, “In your stream of influence and the volume of people that you interact with compared to me, I would say that I am doing exponentially better than you Scott!” By that statement alone James doesn’t take responsibility or blame for his trail of broken relationships. Later in the meeting he also stated that he does not accept any blame regarding his decision to purchase his house in Inverness. He blamed the Elder Board at the time since they gave him permission. All of these matters concern me deeply but apparently Scott, Barry, and I are on the fringe of having concerns over James behavior past and present.

The tone at the meeting was unfortunate and it was clear to me that Scott, Barry, and I were painted to be the villains. When James framed questions to the full Elder Board to see if they supported our actions his questions were completely distorted. When it was our turn to answer whether we approved of the behavior/actions that he alleged were taken, even we were in opposition to the extreme and exaggerated questions! It felt disingenuous to me that Tom Barber’s resignation from the Elder Board and departure from Harvest the prior week wasn’t even brought up. As a result, none of his concerns that led to his decision were addressed at an Elder Board level, regardless of his decision to rescind his resignation and remain. Yet our concerns seemed to be on an island and Tom didn’t affirm any of our concerns in the meeting.

In a court of law the oath stated is, “I swear to tell the truth, the WHOLE truth, and NOTHING but the truth.” The truth can be manipulated while still walking a “legal line” of truth but everything done in Christ’s church should be above accusation and not manipulated to conform to one’s own agenda.

After four years of observation and participation, the assertion that Harvest is an Elder-led church is not reality. The XLT makes most decisions and is compiled of James and four subordinates. Often at our monthly meetings their decisions are reported to the Elder board as having been made and they are simply informing the Elders. We approved a $30,000,000 annual budget with a pie chart in thirty seconds. As Elders we requested a line-item budget and that request was denied. So much of the lack of trust is admittedly attributed to the fear of an Elder going “sideways” as James often references. If an Elder isn’t trustworthy and above reproach/accusation he shouldn’t be an Elder! A good friend of mine in ministry told me, “The enemy has no power in the light, he only has power in the shadows.” With reference to the church, I fear information that is hidden and not disclosed, especially to the leaders who are accountable for those decisions, only gives the enemy opportunity to do damage.

All of us, including our pastors should meet the minimum standards our LORD requires in Titus 1:7-8, “For an overseer, as God’s steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of good, self-controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined.”

1 Thessalonians 5:21 “but test everything; hold fast what is good”. We are instructed to test (examine, investigate, probe) everything to ensure that it is good and right in the eyes of the LORD. We have been told in the past that we can ask anything as Elders but when that happened we were met with resistance.

After James departed the room Randy looked me in the eyes, with clear anger, and said, “We have a lot of work to do and better men to do it.” So I am encouraging you to find better men to lead as I will no longer be serving alongside you.

In closing, the Elder Board collectively, apart from Scott, Barry, and me, made it clear that you do not share our concerns with: 1) James’ behavior and irritable disposition 2) His refusal to disclose or allow review of his compensation by fellow Elders 3) The numerous faults of HBC’s existing authority structure in contrast to the perception of the congregation. Therefore due to my conflicted conscience on these matters as well as those stated above, I can no longer serve as an Elder at Harvest Bible Chapel. My prayers will be with all of you and you have my assurance that I love the church and mean it no harm. Although I am leaving you have my word that I will not tell anyone they should leave Harvest, not even my brother/business partner. I’m hopeful that God will only strengthen Harvest after my departure and give all of you courage to ensure that God is truly glorified in ALL that you do individually and collectively. Please do not barrage me with phone calls or in-person meetings attempting to persuade me otherwise as my decision is made. You are all loved.

You brother in Christ,

Dan Marquardt

HBC Elder’s Response to Marquardt’s Resignation

Dear Scott, Dan and Barry:
We are grieved but agree that the paths you have chosen make it impossible for you to continue on our board and we accept your resignation with regret. It is no longer possible to reach agreement or profitable to rehash the many things we see differently. We differ greatly with Dan’s view of our final meeting and with some of the things Scott asserts in his resignation but are content to leave those matters unresolved lest attempts to reach agreement cause further injury. Suffice it to say, we believe your concerns on all three major points are adequately and increasingly addressed.

Your motives are not in question and we do not doubt your love for our pastor or this church. We do trust that your promise of silence and not further dissonance in what we disagree about will prevent wider disclosure of our disappointment with your participation on our board. As discussed and agreed upon during our retreat in Oak Brook, we will not hesitate to protect any member of the church who is recruited to a negative view of this ministry by opinion that does not reflect Elder consensus.

Let’s do our best to focus on the best days of ministry we shared together with gratitude and pray for self control so that innocent people are not injured by any pride or defensiveness between good men who simply see things differently.

We wish you every grace in Christ and pray for your peace,

The Elders of Harvest Bible Chapel

Dan Marquardt’s Reply to HBC Elders


Given that this attached letter was from all of you I only felt it appropriate to reply to all of you with a desire to alleviate any miscommunication. First, I want to thank those of you who have shared kind words of support and encouragement, they are very much appreciated and know that all of you are in my prayers often.

There are several concerns about this letter and I want to share with you why I cannot accept it as written. First is the assertion that we have chosen a “path” and that is not true. It is accurate to state that we have chosen to share our concerns in a loving way and many of you didn’t share our concerns. The word choice “path” seems to imply that we have somehow changed course. That we have strayed or erred. Is this what you intend to imply? Do you intend to suggest that we are off “path,” and if so have we sinned? Do you see us as needing to repent? If so, please give us a specific account with scripture to affirm.

I’d like clarity on what and how you disagree with my “view” of the final meeting and exactly what you disagree with that Scott “asserts”. You also state that all three of our concerns have been adequately and increasingly addressed. One of the core concerns we share was James’ behavior past and present which we felt was ultimately a heart issue (that was clearly explained in my resignation letter). I’ve been told that has been further demonstrated in statements he’s made in the last week. After resigning I have had many friends share with me their concerns about Pastor James and his mistreatment of people in and outside of the church. Since my resignation, my concerns for James have only deepened as I hear the flood of these accounts.

The other day I left Rick a voicemail and reiterated to him that I love him, James, and Harvest Bible Chapel and affirmed that I didn’t feel the Elder Letter to us was appropriate and I did not accept it. Additionally I reiterated that if I were to dilute all of my concerns to one point, that would be that James needs to repent for his failures and sinful behavior. It does concern me that I’ve been told that some in leadership are painting us as the “sinners and wolves”.

The other concern in your Elder Letter is the sentence: “We do trust that your promise of silence and not further dissonance in what we disagree about will prevent wider disclosure of our disappointment with your participation on the board.” To my best recollection, I do not recall giving a “promise of silence” either verbally or in writing. My promise was to honor the LORD in all that I do and to speak the truth in love. This statement comes across as a threat to tarnish our reputations and discredit our concerns. Is that what you really think/meant?  Knowing many of you I have to assume that this letter was not thoroughly reviewed and edited so I would like to give you a chance to clarify your hearts on this matter.

This section of scripture has resonated in my head and heart since the evening of my resignation and the more I read it the greater clarity I have. Know that I am taking these words to heart personally and seeking to apply them as best I can.

James 3:13-18. 13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Please let me know if you are willing to revise your Elder Letter and therefore provide greater clarity to the three of us on these matters. You are in our prayers and we are trusting our Awesome God to do a mighty work through these difficult circumstances.

Your brother in Christ,

Dan Marquardt

268 thoughts on “Recently resigned HBC Elder, Dan Marquart, cites MacDonald’s behavior, secrecy regarding salary and HBC authority structure as the reasons for his departure.

  1. Brothers and Sisters who support The Elephant’s Debt,

    Let us PLEASE remember we cannot see into the heart of James MacDonald or anyone on staff at HBC. We do not know their motives, and we do not know the states of their respective relationships with Christ. It is fine to believe James, Rick Donald, the elders, et al., are not above reproach, that they are engaging in conduct unbecoming their offices, and that they have made increasingly questionable decisions.

    These emphases are on behavior, the tangible things we can see and prove. We cannot prove motives. We cannot prove anyone’s heart. For all we know, James and the staff truly believe they are doing God’s work. Their perceptions may be warped, but to claim intentional deceit is out of bounds and beyond our abilities short of a smoking gun. We do ourselves no favors when we work into a lather and descend into speculation and conjecture.

    1. True, Chris. That probably needed saying. I would hate to have some of my bonehead mistakes of the past interpreted as me having some nefarious motives. It is just and honorable to confine our comments to things that are actually known and which bear on whether or not JM is “above reproach” in his actions. Passions become strong and reason can often go out the window under those circumstances. Reasoned discussion is called for here–not passionate attack on or defense of James MacDonald.

  2. @ Gary W.

    I don’t think anyone said that they were surprised there was a retreat, and in fact I would suspect that most people at HBC know its there and are fine with it. The problem it seems is that a whole lot of money appears to have been spent on a luxury without telling the congregation. Oh, of course they “update” their site once people become aware of an expensive remodeling job that they were unwilling to tell the people about, and this kind of behavior after promising greater transparency and communication with the people seems a step in the opposite direction.

    And the biggest problem is that a James supporter, someone like yourself (or a staff member?) tried to pass off the “updated” page as new. As for your complaint that opposing views are not allowed, I only hope this is your attempt at humor since, according to your own comment, Ryan seems to have gone out of his way to make sure your comment actually appeared here, and it was the person by the name “John” that provided an opposing view when he tried to lie to the people on this site. I have been reading all kinds of opposing views on this site from the earliest days from people like Bob Arosen, Factchecker (where did he go by the way?), and other one-off comments from others.

  3. T.E.D. –
    1) These photos look nice, but they are far from extravagant.
    2) As far as I know, the Pator’s Retreat has never been a secret. (I am only a casual attender & was aware of it.) From my understanding it is a place where any HBC pastor can go to recharge for a bit. I also believe, they let some other pastors and ministry leaders use it on occasion.
    3) Why should pastors not be entitled to a few days away in better than average environment? Personally, I would want to make sure that my pastor actually gets away and comes back refreshed.
    4) It seems that most folks here want to believe there’s some conspiracy. Doesn’t HBC modify and change the website constantly? If you were responsible for a website, wouldn’t you want to keep it updated with the most recent and pertinent information? It would seem that unless a date is relevant (ie: an opening of a new campus or completion of a construction project, etc), they don’t really use dates. I’m going to have to agree with “John” that it does appear that many are getting “all spun up over this”.

    As a side note, how is it that a site like this dedicates it’s entire existence on tearing down a church/ministry and believes that it’s OK? It would seem that the elephant in THIS room is that your sin is not justified by the fact that you think it is righteousness. I would challenge you to prayerfully consider the hundreds you impact simply over your hatred for a man.

    I have made several attempts toward replying and posting on this site that have been “lost”. It is only through research and my contact to Ryan Mahoney (one of the creators/moderators of this site) on his twitter account (@RMM5150) that this post is finally getting through.

    A fairly balanced blog doesn’t make for a very exciting blog. An outlandish almost unbelievable blog is exciting and juicy. That’s what this blog is all about. My challenge to all that read this site – be a wise consumer. The creators of this site have some ethics issues of their own. Don’t believe me? Try to post a counter view.

    1. Points 1, 2, and 3) The context is the the current misuse of money and debt in the hands of HBC and James. If the Pastor’s Retreat was the only fishy item, it could be given the benefit of the doubt. However, it is part of a larger pattern.
      4) I agree some are reading more into this than is necessary, and their tone is unduly harsh. However, the most salient point remains that this retreat was not publicly disclosed, and whether accidental or deliberate it does not look good for an organization with a poor record of transparency.

      “(H)ow is it that a site like this dedicates it’s entire existence on tearing down a church/ministry and believes that it’s OK?” He has a public ministry. He and HBC have resisted accountability. It is hardly a “tearing down” to do what Scripture calls believers to do. Would you rather James’ and HBC’s poor conduct go unchallenged?

      “It would seem that the elephant in THIS room is that your sin is not justified by the fact that you think it is righteousness.” Are you referring to commenters? Ryan and Scott? Both? Prove this site’s handlers are in sin.

      “I would challenge you to prayerfully consider the hundreds you impact simply over your hatred for a man.” Again, commenters? Ryan and Scott? Ryan and Scott have made clear their wish that this site helps those affected by Harvest’s operations. Prove that anyone “hates” MacDonald.

      “Don’t believe me? Try to post a counter view.” You haven’t read the site. Plenty of counter views available.

    2. “Try to post a counter view.” You just did, didn’t you Gary? And “John” did yesterday, didn’t he? Plus, there have been other very balanced views all along. I don’t think most of the posters have a problem with the “House in the Woods” as much as the clear prevarication over it from what could only be HBC itself. That having been said, if the blog owners are quashing dissent, then that is engaging in tactics that they have strongly opposed in the leadership of HBC. However, I do not believe that is what is going on here.

      To me, the authors make an attempt to keep the “discussion” on track. I have had a couple of my remarks fail to make the site, not because I was defending James MacDonald, but because the blog owners felt that my remarks were off-track. They sent an email to me about one of my remarks politely stating that they wanted to confine the discussion to the subject at hand–rather than trying to see it in a broader picture of what may or may not be going on within evangelicalism.

  4. The silence from the Elders regarding the “Resort in the Woods” fiasco is deafening. That fact that NO Elder with a any ethical sense has not spoken against this serious abuse of funds speaks volumes about the character of leadership at HBC. Are there any responsible “Act Like Men” type leaders in the house??? It is safe to say we will not be seeing any more Elder updates. HBC is now defending JMacs actions by publishing false information on their website to mislead the congregation. I expect the only recourse and really the only solution ever available is for the congregation to vote with their feet. This is not Kingdom building.

  5. People are being denied complete truthfulness and transparency about Harvest’s expenses. Money is being spent on the wrong things, and many are realizing this. The elder board has failed in their oversight responsibilities. A TINY majority has taken our church way off track.

    Christ said to follow him meant giving up self and the love of money. He instructed his disciples to teach and practice all he told them. Harvest does not need to create a ‘brand’ name and a new ‘denomination and all the expenses associated with it and the image-making. Forget all of that. Get the ‘moneychangers’ out of the church and stop turning it into a corporation. Money and power have become idols. Remember when Christ entered the temple (Luke 19:45) and began to drive out those who sold, saying to them, “It is written, My house shall be a house of prayer, ‘ but you have made it a den of robbers.”

    We are getting farther off track as time goes by.

    Poor decisions and practices are having an adverse effect upon our financial health, culture and biblical stance. Is God more greatly glorified in numbers, or in ‘truth and love’.

    Just as important, HUGE numbers of people amongst us have been, and STILL ARE, being harmed. Why have so many been slandered, shunned, ‘catapulted’, just because they cared enough to take an interest in the health of our finances, teaching, etc? Why are they being treated as enemy combatants, accused of being divisive, etc. This is not loving or Christ honoring. A culture of fear, intimidation and censure is producing ungodly fruit, and scattering the sheep. What happened to genuine love, gentleness, humility and self-control? Is not Christ grieved over this?

    How can we help the jobless, homeless, abused, and sick amongst us if we are at enmity with one another -and our tithes are not being spent rightly?

    Are we to be treated as puppets, with no effectual voice in our own church! Is silence and conforming to be exalted above everything? How will God hold me accountable? Won’t He judge me for my passivity and failure to act according to what I know?

    Is God to be our sovereign? Or are we to become our own prophets, priests and kings?

    What will he say to me (you) on Judgment Day?

    Think and pray on these things as you choose whether or not to act in this matter.

  6. Yesterday on his Facebook page, Pastor Greg Laurie, known for the Harvest Crusades, posted a photo of himself and James MacDonald having dinner together. When I recommended that Greg look at this site, he deleted my comments and blocked me.

    It’s too bad he chooses poorly: Loyalty to James MacDonald over godly character and a good donor.

    1. It is likely that “celebrity pastors” of megachurches, like most all members of an elite class, have a great deal of loyalty to others in their class, whether or not it is deserved. In contrast, “…God doesn’t show partiality. In every nation, He accepts those who fear Him and do what is right…”. (Acts 10:34-35 NLT) I always assumed that we were supposed to show the same lack of partiality. Is that standard meaningless to the rich and powerful megachurch pastors?

      1. Perhaps so. I think they have a misplaced loyalty — to each other and not to God or to the innocent and trusting people who attend their churches.

        The problem is that Greg Laurie is a decent pastor as far as I know. James MacDonald appears to be a leader who has gone south and needs to be reprimanded not given honor. Very poor discernment on Greg’s part. I’m not planning to donate again.

        Here’s the other problem. The next Harvest Crusade is coming up August 23-25. Is Greg Laurie so loyal to James MacDonald that he’ll have him on the platform?

        Concerned people should contact Pastor Greg Laurie at Harvest Church in Riverside, CA. I posted their Facebook page above. And Greg’s Twitter is @GregLaurie

        Harvest Church Office
        6115 Arlington Avenue
        Riverside, CA 92504
        (951) 687-6902

  7. The continued development of hidden things surprises me daily. If only the congregation knew where the tithe money goes, of course if you ask you are “sinning” by not trusting the leadership. Although the common response is there was a generous donor which makes no sense. I would rather see that generous donor give the money towards ministry (cabins for campers, books for the school, expand children ministry options, etc) than for a couch, countertop, paneling and my personal favorite Chicago Cubs season tickets (yes HBC has 4 seats). So glad we left years ago.

  8. It sounds like from reading the latest entries of this blog, something is going to happen soon to James and Harvest, whether by force or by his own repentance. I pray that if this blows up and Harvest is in disarray, please so not abandon your faith. I read one person’s comment that he will never go to another church again. Please don’t give up on your first love, which is Christ Jesus. It’s appalling that someone like James who has been given these gifts from God has been using them to his own selfish gain and has hurt the body of Christ in the process, especially new believers. Wherever you go, remember that no church is perfect…maybe the pastor won’t be an eloquent speaker but may have a humble and generous heart for his church, maybe it’s a small church struggling to make ends meet but people are growing in their small groups. Whatever it is, do not let what is happening break your trust in God. Or else Satan would win! You are all in my prayers.

    1. I’m a long-time Christian, and nothing that any man does could shake my faith in Christ. I always wondered if the megachurch was a good idea–now, I know it is not, based on the number of megachurch pastors who have given us all a theological headache in addition to the heartache of watching while they act like pagans. I sometimes wonder if the Lord is calling us to prepare for the coming storm by breaking us into smaller groupings.

  9. Recent Twitter post from James, he is on his way back to “The Big House”. We will be praying that he, the executive staff, the elders, the deacons, the leaders, flock leaders, members, and attenders will, under direction of the Holy Spirit, do what they have already been convicted of.


  10. Regarding the camp, I recalled it was purchased for $3.75MM from VK (according to the transfer affadavit) or as HBC noted at the time, “pennies on the dollar”. Was this a “donation” then? Some clarity by those who have knowledge on this would be appreciated.

    1. The property was originally purchased, as you said, but the balance of the loan was forgiven as a donation to HBC.

      1. A portion of the original camp debt was forgiven by the Van Kampen Trust in March 2005, but Harvest turned it around and re-mortgaged it for 4.5 million. The loan comes due on June 1, 2016, unless they’ve extended it. The last modification took place May 2011. For the Camp info, go to the website: Newaygo County Recorder of Deeds and search on Harvest Bible. You will see all the documents are listed there. Please note I haven’t seen the financials for 2011 to 2012, or the 2012 to 2013 to confirm everything, but the camp mortgage is still in Newaygo.

        If anyone has seen the 2011 to 2012, please send a note to the T.E.D. website. Remember the Elders promised financial transparency, so they much be someplace, right?

  11. Ex - Member of HBC-RM August 17, 2013 — 10:58 am

    Question: How did HBC/JMAC come into the house. On the newly added webpage, it states “guests are greeted by this notable plaque” which says that it was donated to JMAC. But, I always heard that it was purchased for “pennies on the dollar” (which, thanks to this website, we learned was not really ‘pennies’).

    Another question – At what point did JMAC decide to begin preaching Pre-Wrath. Was it before or after the “donation” of this land to him?

    Based on the secrecy/lies that HBC continues to show, I think that the question of “how many other ‘cabins in the woods’ are there” is a good question.

  12. Concern not concerned….. Spell check error

  13. Well this seems to be interesting on how HBC responds when a group of people are inquiring about the “House in the Woods” . Thanks “John” for confirming how HBC handles situations over there.

    This page is certainly new. It has clearly has the dates to show when it was posted –

    Why doesn’t the Pastor’s retreat area page have a date?

    Because “John says: August 16, 2013 at 8:32 pm” “I saw this on the harvest website quite a while ago… Why are all here so spun up?”

    “John” thought we were all spun up about this? I believe they got spun up that so many people were asking questions.

    Now, I am asking HBC, while there adding new pages to their website, please…..would you put ALL the elders update pages back on the HBC website so your current church members will have an idea of what’s going on? Thank you.

  14. So, there we have it. HBC is now prepared to fabricate elaborate ruses to try to keep a lid on this scandal of James MacDonald’s flagrant misconduct. Very sad.

  15. I saw this on the harvest website quite a while ago… Why are all here so spun up?

    1. I agree with Jim — the page is brand new. Here’s the incriminating evidence: take that URL and put it into Google. It will come up with nothing. But go back to the Camp Harvest page and do the same for any of the other ‘resource’ links: “Family Camp Release and Information”, “Student Forms”, “Daily Schedule Sample”, etc. They all come up, because Google has crawled them already….which it hasn’t had an opportunity to do yet on a brand new page.

      Here’s another piece of evidence. Look at the “content_id” in the URL of 367974. That number increases monotonically with time as new content is posted to the site. If you compare 367974 to the content_id for the articles listed under “News” on, it’s newer than basically all the articles except the last two, which is “5G update, August 2013”.

      So there’s no way that page has been on there since “quite a while ago”.

      1. I’m not near a computer right now. Someone needs to screencap as much as they can to prove the page is new.

      2. The question then is who at Harvest gave the order to create this response to TED, and who gave the order to put it up here and pass it off as an old site? Who could possibly have the motivation, self-interest and power to pull this off?

      3. Good job Chris! There are IT tools out there such as the “Way back Machine” and others that will carbon date web pages. This is really rather Orwellian. First the “House in the Woods” expenditure and now the cover-up. John – who are you really???

      4. Chris, you are absolutely right. This page is brand new and Google results confirm it as as of August 16th, 2013 23:00 hrs. This shows that Harvest clique reads this blog and devised a crude plan to create a confusion about what was uncovered about their “House of Vanity” in Michigan. This is only further proof that MacDonald and his associates will not repent but will lie, evade, cover up and run from all of this to keep the gains coming. Harvest under this leadership is a despicable enrichment scam for the few and they will rather go down with it than repent from this nefarious scam These people have no fear or God nor love for others despite their cliche mantra of “you are loved” which should be now translated and understood as: “you are scammed”.

    2. I have to give HBC and John credit because that particular webpage is brand spanking new!!! I looked at the Camp Harvest page just the other day and the Pastor’s Retreat info was not present. Wow these guys are good!

      1. It would have been even more impressive if the page had been liked and/or tweeted several times.

      2. Just saying- if you read the plaque and the words, it sure sounds like James and his wife own the retreat house now and ‘share it’ with others. That will be the question– who owns the deed?

        1. Title is HBC for the whole camp property. The “House in the Woods” does not have a separate title . . . yet. However, the home contained MacDonald family photo and personal items, but it has been a while since I’ve seen the inside. While James does not have title to it he feels and acts entitled to it.

        2. As an Elder at a Canadian HBC in 2009, at that time I understood the purpose of this house was a retreat that was available to all HBF pastors and their families.

        3. No doubt other pastors have been invited up to use it, but who gives the permission and the keys to go up and use it? Why were James’ personal effects in the house?

        4. Kent, I don’t necessarily have a problem with a “Pastor’s cabin” that is available for pastors in the fellowship. I think the question is whether this is extravagent. In addition, assuming that the work and materials and furnishings were donated as HBC says, they admitted that the house had fallen into disrepair over time because of a lack of a maintanance fund. I can look at the pictures and see that the cost of upkeep or maintanance for this house is going to be huge. Who will be paying to repair or replace that very expensive refrigerator, or cleaning those beautiful rugs, or the upkeep on the wood. I always thought it would be fun to win a beautiful expensive car. But then I realized I could never keep it anyway because I would not be able to afford to fix it!

        5. I apologize for addressing my previous comment to Kent. I think I misread what he was saying. Sorry Kent. I will need to slow down as I try to take all of this information in.

      3. really,harvest? August 16, 2013 — 9:29 pm

        An anonymous rich person decided to give to a worthy cause: creating a pimped out retreat area for a super rich pastor and his buddies. Harvest, this one is a stretch. I am shocked if even the most gullible HBC members buy that one.

        1. The HBC site says “improvements to furnishing and decor were funded outside the 5G campaign by a generous and anonymous donor.”

          Anyone want to guess the cost of labor and materials (furniture, wood, cabinets, granite countertops, electrical, etc) that this cost? Did the anonymous donor drop off of briefcase full of case? Follow the money.

        2. Turn to you neighbor and say, “This story’s bogus”

    3. John, can you give a more specific approximation of how long ago “quite a while ago” was? Thanks.

    4. I agree that this page was not here yesterday when I was actively searching for any such information. This is what many people would call a lie.

      1. Although that webpage is clearly new–and written very specifically to anticipate and address the claims on this web site–this isn’t new information to anyone who has been to Camp Harvest. When we were there for family camp last summer, the camp directors explained candidly that Camp Harvest was property owned and then donated by the Van Kaampens, including the houses, which were now used as a retreat space for pastors and their families. They also mentioned that the house had not been in great condition and had been recently refurbished.

        And while John above (an HBC elder/employee?) is obviously not being entirely truthful about the web page’s longevity, let’s acknowledge that HBC hasn’t lied about the page. No one from HBC has made a claim about how long the page has been there. I say so what if it’s new? It’s the church’s way of addressing a claim being made on this blog.

        P.S. Bob VK used part of the property as a shooting range (e.g., shooting bucks), with business associates and other folks paying to come and shoot deer. That likely accounts for the buck head over the fireplace.

        1. Seriously? Listen to your argument. HBC has not lied even though you admit you’re not sure “John” is not one of the HBC leaders or someone they tapped to place this new web page here while claiming it’s new. Why after reading Dan Marquardt’s letter and this site would you believe “John” is not an HBC plant? Why not figure out who “John” is before coming to your conclusion?

        2. “And while John above (an HBC elder/employee?) is obviously not being entirely truthful about the web page’s longevity, let’s acknowledge that HBC hasn’t lied about the page. No one from HBC has made a claim about how long the page has been there.”

          How many lies are in the above statement? John (HBC employee) posts at 8:32pm “I saw this on the harvest website quite a while ago…”. So says John (I am paraphrasing) – whats the big deal the info was there all the time? At 8:55pm he was outed and it was determined that the webpage was brand new. Ergo John is in all probability an HBC employee. So yes HBC has lied and HBC has made a claim pertaining to the webpage age which is in fact a …. well it is a LIE.

          Follow the money.

        3. Anonymous & Rick–I’ve come to no conclusion about John. My point is that we’re never going to find out who John is and we’ll have to live with the the fact that no one or no group acting as a spokesperson for the church has claimed the page has been there.

          In any case, John’s identity is irrelevant to the broader point that this blog is trying to make about the pastoral retreat on the camp’s property. Are you taking issue with the content on the web page? Are you satisfied or unsatisfied with the explanation provided therein? Again, I daresay none of the info on the page is new to people who have been to the Camp, or who have had a conversation with a campus pastor about the camp. Commenters have alleged or implied that the house, its source, its purposes, and its renovations have been hidden away in secret, and that’s simply not the case. If the woman who donated the property wanted it to be used as a pastoral retreat, so be it.

          Assuming that the web page information is true and the renovations were not funded thru tithes and offerings (5G and otherwise), do you think the church is obligated to tell everyone about it in the video announcements or social media?

        4. Dear JA,

          Why does it matter? Sigh. The fact that you posed such a question chills me; relativism has no place in the relational/spiritual dynamic between church leadership and those of the church body–of its membership and ultimately, the bride of Jesus Christ.

          The “been there a long time” claim matters as it defines a time frame of reference–and reflects the degree of integrity to which its creator, “John” (ergo, Harvest leadership, as clearly such a page can not be created and uploaded to the Harvest web site without appropriate sanction and access) chooses to address the concerns of TED and perhaps, a few sideways members who have dared to ask within the friendly confines of HBC or via email and old fashioned phone calling.

          It matters, JA, for if it (Harvest Pastor’s Retreat) has not been a cyber-living breathing page prior to the past couple of days or even couple of weeks, then the spirit in which such claim was made would be duplicitous.

          Duplicitous – Given to or marked by deliberate deceptiveness in behavior or speech.

          If said page has existed only until the most recent of hours/days, then “John” (ergo, Harvest leadership) claim otherwise is outright duplicitous–or, as non-relativism types often refer to such things; an outright lie.

          It reveals the intent of the poster.
          It reveals the ethics of the poster.
          It reveals the integrity of the claims of the poster.

          That’s why it matters.

        5. Anonymous Member of HBC-RM August 17, 2013 — 12:37 am

          The NEWLY added web page says the renovations were funded by an anonymous donor??? Well, since we ( and the elders) can never see a detailed budget, how will anyone ever know how it was funded.

          Seeing how this page was created and presented with lies, I am not inclined to believe its content.

          Sad move HBC.

    5. Google Cache for the Camp Harvest page reveals that this link wasn’t live on Aug 6, 2013 14:44:12 GMT

      See for yourself while it’s there:

      It also reveals that John Smith is the Executive Director of Camp Harvest. Same “John” as above?

      1. What bothers me the most now is that Jmac is involving others in helping him cover up past wrongs. It pains me to see names mentioned as possibly being involved without knowing if they really were. It is very evident now that he is going to be damaged substantially by all of the issues that have been brought to light on this blog. However, the question now is how many HBC staff is he going to take down with him? With Jmac involving and being helped by others now, who can we trust to be godly leaders? Elders? Pastors? Staff? The elders need to step up, stop being Jmac’s “yes men”, find out who is responsible for this and for helping cover up other issues that have been brought to light on this blog, counsel those people and replace them if necessary.

        1. Yes–this latest nonsense, bears testimony to the web of secrecy (dare we say deceit?) that JM has woven around himself. Has he merely managed to gather men who also believe “the end justifies the means” (even though that runs counter to everything we have been taught by the New Testament about how we should conduct ourselves)? Or has he had a profoundly corrupting influence on them that they are willing to fabricate lies to help him to cover his tracks? Others have given testimony on the “psychological arm-twisting” that goes on at the highest levels of the Harvest system. This is quite common at the higher levels of the corporate world–but among churchmen? An online dictionary gives this meaning for the word “bunkum”—“…insincere speech-making by a politician intended merely to please local constituents…” Seems to fit JM and cohorts. Should we believe that HBC now stands for Harvest Bunkum Corporation?

    6. John,

      I think you work for these people and this page is new and full of more manipulations and lies… That is a thing about lies. Once lied about it a natural person can only keep on lying to keep the lie.

    7. Anonymous Member of HBC-RM August 17, 2013 — 12:25 am

      The wayback machine captured this page on July 22, 2013. The pastors retreat area is not mentioned.

      John, could you please say when you saw this info. for the first time.

      Here is a description from July 22nd.:

      Our year-round facilities include 21 winterized cabins, two bath houses, and a teaching/dining facility for groups up to 250. Lord willing, we will open a new chapel in 2013.

      No mention of “the house in the woods”.

    8. John, you are obviously obfuscating the truth and if you are under authority of the leadership, it is another blow to the credibility and integrity of the church. Does the God of the universe need your pitiful antics and cover ups to protect His glory?! Confess the truth and repent!!!

      It is a sad day when the truth is so evident and yet the so called “leadership” is attempting to lead by the flesh instead of the Spirit. Again, James and all your cronies, REPENT!! Repent and then there will be room for you in God’s house.

    9. Stuart Little (Da Mouse) August 17, 2013 — 1:19 am

      On Thursday August 15, I went to the Harvest Bible Chapel website and searched for “Maida” and also searched for “Korte”. No matches were found. Now either search returns 1 match (the web page that John mentioned)

      John, if he is on staff, should resign as well for this cover-up spin: “I saw this on the harvest website quite a while ago … Why are all here so spun up?”

      Mega Spin is a Mega Problem at the Mega Church and it starts with the Mega Preacher but obviously it doesn’t end there.

  16. So the House In the Woods (according to the dates on Facebook pics, October 26, 2012) was renovated (or finished renovating) during the 5G campaign, which started at the earliest, 11/11/2011 if you play the “Project Updates” video.

    James Macdonald says (at the 20 sec mark) “…decisions in this service that are gonna impact people who are hurting; and can’t make their needs financially, and- and- and- and new houses of worship to the Lord are gonna be raised…”

    In this statement, James MacDonald is at least aware there are people are hurting. There are people who can’t make their financially needs – and yet, still, chooses to continue to live an extravagant lifestyle.

    Can anyone confirm if any HBC leaders mentioned renovating the “retreat cabin” as part the 5G campaign? I went to the leaders meeting (2011) at HBC-RM when the 5G campaign started and do not recall any mention of this. I just remembered the highlight of that meeting was about “if we (the leaders) expect the church to give to the 5G campaign, the leaders should start giving first and set a good example”.

    The only work I knew that happened at Newaygo, Michigan was when the Men’s retreat would go to Camp Harvest. The men would work voluntarily on the new “addition” (water slide, clearing the fields, additional cabins, etc.) that year. Did any of those men remember working on the “retreat cabin”?

    As of 8/16/2013 5G Pledged- $30,000,000 / 5G Campaign Received TD – $10,659,400. How much of the funds received in the 5G campaign went to the Niles Campus, RM Campus, North Shore, and Chicago North? Does it get used up right away once it’s received? I still don’t know for a fact if any 5G campaign money or if any HBC money was put into “retreat cabin” renovation. If anyone can shed some facts into this situation, it would be appreciated.

    1. I feel so foolish when I see the video now because I was one of many who got caught in the emotions of what was presented and who was presenting it- and pledged a lot of money. I’m sick to my stomach when I think about how the money was used to help JMac’s extravagant lifestyle and the church has this huge debt. I do wish this will blow up and JMac, Rick Donald and other elders will be forced to be humbled to their knees. Unfortunately it will have to come to that point because I cannot see them repenting on their own. Too much pride, money and power at stake. I’m so glad that I’ve left and no longer being deceived by lies.

    2. I can tell you that wood paneling like that which was installed in The House in the Woods is NOT a job for amateurs–it is skilled carpentry and definitely a luxury item. Why would they tear out “quality” (as someone here called it) dry wall to put in expensive wood paneling? I have seen the super-wealthy tear down perfectly acceptable structures and replace them with scarcely better, on a whim. Such is the lifestyle of the super-wealthy. Is this what a pastor’s life should be like? I’m not one who believes that pastors should be reduced to poverty, but wasteful extravagance, using the Lord’s money, and then only for the use of a few at the top of the organization, shows incredible contempt for the sheep who are struggling to squeeze out their tithes and offerings. So disgraceful it makes me want to weep! Colossians 3:5 NLT–“Do not be greedy for the good things of this life, for that is idolatry.”

      1. I would never have believed it 10 or even 5 yrs ago. I am so disgusted I want to stand up in the middle of his sermon and say what are u doing? My Family is leaving and our neighbors who attend because we encouraged them 10 yrs ago are also leaving. I have stopped giving to HBC and would encourage all to do the same. Give where it will do the most, in your community, to a worthy cause, think outside the box. God will honor that. Not sure I will go to a church again. What a scam!!

        1. Do it. This needs to be confronted.

        2. Well, I certainly would not go to a megachurch headed by a “celebrity pastor” ever again, I can tell you that–especially one with murky financials such as HBC. Years ago, the smaller churches lamented that the megchurches were sucking up Christians and taking away the focus from supporting their own local outreach. Perhaps that trend will now be reversed?

  17. John on the island of Patmos August 16, 2013 — 6:42 pm

    Some of you have intimated that the assets of the Church are largely controlled and attached directly to JMac. If that is the case, while he has any may continue to have the upside for some period of time and by accounts detailed in this blog…that means he also has the all the risk attached to him personally….$50m is the number being tossed around. So if the entire enchilada implodes, so does he.

    1. Just to be clear, there is no reason to believe any of the assets are owned personally. No person with any fiscal wisdom would take on the tax and liability risks associated through personal ownership. HBC is a legally created entity that bears the risks and benefits of ownership.

      1. To any of the lawyers out there I think it would be safe to say the James MacDonald and the inner circle would not be liable for any HBC debt. The question is what other “House in the Woods” properties are out there?

      2. John on island of patmos August 17, 2013 — 2:31 pm

        The corporate veil of protection and personal liability can be pierced if it is found that corporate funds and assets are comingled with or for personal use/gain. If all this someday is found to be the case and as it has been asserted throughtout this blog then he can be held personally liable. Would also expect if he has controlling interest in the organization and its assets as has been also asserted then i he has probably signed a personal guarantee on any notes that have been executed on behalf of the church. In last 4-5 years closely held institutions are more times than not required to sign personal guarantees. Yes, some conjecture on my part – i get it – but no more or less than what others have opined about.

        In the end, my prayer is for all this chaos to come to an end very soon by the Lord’s hand, also pray for the school, the teachers and students which i have two in attendance and 3 in total who were at HCA since day one. God help us all and have mercy on us all.

    2. So stop giving. Why would you continue to fund this fraud, let him get buried under the weight of the debt. I understand the feelings of many on here calling for him to repent and telling him he is loved, I know I was there once. But I’m practical and a realist. I know men and have dealt with many over the years , arrogant, self righteous, Alpha Males that never learn how to channel that character and develop compassion. He cares nothing about you ,me or any body else who disagrees with him. ie the , I would rather lose 1000 people than reveal my salary to the ELDERS, statement. He has no interest in repenting, it would mean changing his lifestyle dramatically and that wont happen. He is a scam artist and a good one, and has left a trail of heartache in a long wake behind him. Ever wonder what happened to Lindsey McCall, or the Stohls. Everyone who has close contact with JMAC suffers. While we are all obsessed with JMAC maybe we should be asking, what about Rick, his involvement, what does he make and what is it he does exactly? How many on staff full time Pastors do we have, are they paid full time salaries, what about the worship team.. I feel this goes deep and as members we need to know.

      1. That guy Rick is pretty slick too… Watched his last “sermon” typical sales man.

  18. Some people preach the faith. Some write books about the faith. And some people model the faith. From the collaborated evidence of such a large number of witnesses, it is evident that JMac is only doing the first two.

    If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. (Galatians 5:25 ESV) it is depressing that JMac is not walking with the Spirit.

    JMac’s insistence of causing strife, enmity and fits of anger should be a warning to us all not to imitate as JMac may not inherit the kingdom of God due to the callousness of his greedy heart!

    1. “May not” is a generous statement… You have to weight his fruit in the end.

      ““Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree CANNOT bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.”
      Matthew 7:15-20

      1. Despeville,

        I agree with your sentiment. It was hard being magnanimous.

  19. The HBC Executive Staff, I would imagine are calling the shots at Harvest. We would need confirmation from ex elders and staff. The Executive Staff has 5 members: James MacDonald, Rick Donald, Fred Adams, Janine Nelson, and Trei Tatum. Janine makes over $170,000 (from last WITW statement) but has a HR background so I doubt she has much power. Trei looks fairly young for such a high post. Fred is the business guy so he job is to implement the financial decisions ergo find the cash to support the projects. The real power I imagine is held by James MacDonald and Rick Donald.

  20. Interested Party August 16, 2013 — 12:12 pm

    For those who mentioned the pre-wrath viewpoint of the end times it was not “Van Kampen’s notions” that JM started to preach. His viewpoint was framed through the book written by Marvin Rosenthal who is a strong proponent of this view.

    1. No, actually, it was the opposite. Van Kampen convinced Marv Rosenthal of his “pre-wrath” position and Rosenthal took up the preaching of it.

      1. p.s. Rosenthal has passed on.

  21. It would be symbolic if we could get 1,000+ (the 1,000 JMac doesn’t mind losing) unique rational comments on this post to illustrate the concerns and seriousness of the underlying issues of JMac (including Rick), thus resulting in some press with The Herald or Chicago Tribune. Pray about it all and spread the word!

  22. James MacDonald: How can you sit back reading all this, all the damage that you have done in the name of Christ Jesus? All the people you have hurt? How can you sleep at night? Have you no heart at all??? Repent!

  23. The “House in the Woods” clearly shows where JMac’s priorities are. Instead of paying down church debt or helping the children at Harvest Christian Academy with additional funds, he funded a very expensive luxurious renovation on a vacation property that only he and a small circle of elite get to use.

    1. sadly anonymous August 16, 2013 — 9:44 am

      Spending out of control. Just like the government. I expected much better stewardship from HBC.

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