A fourth recently resigned elder, Russ Barney, speaks publicly in defense of Marquardt, Phelps and Slabaugh.

Update (17 Sep 2013 - second update)On September 15, 2013, Harvest Bible Chapel posted a shocking video on their website, which was shown at all the campuses during their worship service.   The posting of this video has stirred an incredible controversy, and as a result of its release, another fourth, recently resigned elder has courageously come to the defense of his fellow former elders.  This elder has never been referred to on The Elephant’s Debt; and until now, we were unaware of his story.

It must be pointed out that the claims by MacDonald and his elder board to being unified during this season of HBC’s history are simply not true. In Harvest’s June Elder’s Update, they claimed that Marquardt, Phelps and Slabaugh’s resignation was “an isolated dissension among three elders.”  However, as much as HBC wants to argue that unity is a hallmark of their church, the simple fact of the matter is this: when men disagree with Harvest policies or with James MacDonald, they ultimately walk away and find other churches in which they can worship with integrity.

In our post of September 15, 2013, titled An Open Letter to Steve Huston, we called out the dangerous theology being espoused by the elders presented in this video when they claimed to speak for God, and we demonstrated the absurd nature of HBC’s claim that “publicizing viewpoints rejected by the elder majority for any reason is Satanic to the core.”  We also called upon Steve Huston, the elder that uttered the most heinous line of the video to apologize to Phelps and Slabaugh publicly.

In the comment section of this post, the recently resigned elder, Russ Barney, and his wife Gini, made this comment:

Perhaps this comment fits in with the previous post regarding Scott Phelps, Barry Slabaugh, and, indirectly, Dan Marquardt – but since the first two gentlemen were the target of this the video’s diabolical tirade, I will post here.

First, I am another ‘former elder’ of HBC. My wife and I left in 2011.  We did not leave under pleasant circumstances,  and found that we were ostracized following our departure.  Barry was the only one to contact us afterwards, which is the reason I am writing in his support now.

We all need to be in prayer for the gentlemen who have resigned because their consciences would not allow them to remain on a puppet elder board.  Please be praying for their families as well, as they will also be targets of this uncalled for retribution.

Scott, Barry, and Dan are men of integrity, as are the others mentioned in “the Void.”  Can anyone who has known those who have left honestly doubt that there is a major problem at Harvest? It is heartbreaking for those of us who have invested time, prayer, love, and money to help Harvest grow to see the vindictiveness presented in the video. (Link removed)

My wife and I both applaud Scott Bryant and Ryan Mahoney in their attempts to bring the truth forward, and to strongly defend the above elders.

We pray that the members of the congregation will not turn away from the Lord as this ugly mess continues to unravel.

Russ (and Gini) Barney

51 thoughts on “A fourth recently resigned elder, Russ Barney, speaks publicly in defense of Marquardt, Phelps and Slabaugh.

  1. Moody’s current President does not attend Harvest anymore. He attended the cathedral campus but left sometime last semester.

  2. Where are all the HBF pastors? Why no outcry? Is it because you condone the HBC actions? Or are you scared? Think your church can’t stand alone? Do you really need the Harvest logo and materials, and do you really want to use Harvest training now that you know what they really believe about elder rule and their fully orbed theology of money? Your silence is deafening! How many more people have to be abused and have their good names slandered before you say something. Shout out like you got some backbone! There are other places you can train as pastors and leaders. You don’t need JMac and HBC they need you (and your money). Look yourselves in the mirror tomorrow and ask what is the biblical thing to do. Your sheep need you to step up!

  3. I think we need to be looking for updated information from Moody Bible Institute. The letter about a meeting with Moody Bible Institute is supposedly from a meeting in March. A lot has changed and gone on with Harvest since this meeting. As a Moody student on campus, the knowledge about what is happening with James MacDonald and Harvest is slim to none. Everyone who I have talked with about these issues know nothing about what I ask them, even the students that attend Harvest. Anyone that I have talked to about this issue, had never heard of this website either.
    Anytime someone mentions JM or Harvest I ask them if they know what’s going on. The most common response I get is they heard something about gambling.

    1. That’s always been my contention–that most Harvest people (even in the Chicago area) do not know about all of this. My son-in-law is a case in point. He was quite shocked when he read about all the goings-on at HBC–on this website. He is normally pretty tuned-in to what is happening in evangelicalism. But there has been little mentioned in the “discernment” blogs. According to James MacDonald apologists at HBC, most Harvest people know about this website and have rejected the information. As far as I can tell, (and I know a lot of Harvest attenders) this is simply untrue. Many of the ones I have spoken to (who have visited this website and do know about it) are in a quandary. The would much prefer that JM would step down, rather than leave their Harvest church. Several families that I know are waiting to see what happens but are prepared to leave if the situation does not change.

      1. Very true, James 4:7. I know a couple people that are playing the wait and see right now. That has also been the same issue for me about how many people who attend but no nothing.

        1. Many are waiting to see a conclusion of this nut probably many more are caught in cognitive dissonance about this and the inner circle of HBC knows it and counts on that too…

        2. Colten,

          Keep safe out there. HBC tentacles are long and retribution swift.

  4. John on the island of Patmos September 18, 2013 — 6:21 pm

    That heinous video reminds me of this quote: “When the debate is lost, slander becomes the tool of the loser.”
    ― Socrates

  5. I was wondering if some of the discontent is a difference of opinion about form of government. Congregational rule= openess, elder rule= I trust a few to make decisions for the sake of the whole.

    1. The only problem is that it seems that HBC does not, in fact, presently (if it ever did) have “elder rule” but dictatorship by JM with a “rubber stamp” board. Since JM is hardly Moses, it is a wonder that the wheels haven’t come off long before this.

      1. I am compelled to comment on the “puppet elder board” and “rubber-stamp elder board” claims of others on this blog.

        While attending HBC years ago, I found myself in the unfortunate position of needing to bring a fairly serious, Biblical issue to the attention of leadership. Not knowing HBC protocol, I sought counsel at the Biblical Counseling Center, knowing that Ron Allchin was an HBC elder. In confirmation that the issue demanded leadership attention, I was advised to write a letter detailing the problem, to address it to the entire elder board, to “cc” Ron Allchin (so that it wasn’t disregarded by other elders), and to distribute it to the elders via the church’s internal memo system – which I did.

        Promptly, I received a call from Rick Donald, letting me know that the letter had been received; and we discussed the matter at length. He sounded concerned. Rick told me that the elder board would be discussing the issue at their next meeting, and he would get back to me. At the end of the conversation, Rick added that if I had any additional issues to present to the elders, Pastor James had directed that I should bring them directly to his (Rick’s) attention and that he (Rick) would bring it to the elders on my behalf. Rick said I had an open door (per James) to his office, emphasizing it two or three times to ensure that I understood.

        Initially, I was pleased (perhaps naively so) that my concerns were not only validated, but that, through Rick, I now had access to the elders. Although it was apparent to me that Rick and I were not on the same page theologically, I had faith in the elder board and was hopeful that the problem(s) would be corrected.

        However, judging from the unsatisfactory outcome, I eventually concluded that I had never been granted access to the elder board by Rick or James. Instead of an open door, I found Rick acting like a filter to stand BETWEEN me and the elder board. I was essentially forbidden to address the elder board directly, so I first had to have my contentions “approved” by Rick (and presumably James) before Rick would even bring them to the elders.

        In retrospect, I am convinced that Rick’s “open door” policy was actually damage control – their way of controlling access to the elders. After all, if you can control access to the elder board, you can control 1) who is heard, 2) how information is presented, 3) the context in which that information is presented, 4) what information is presented, and, most importantly, 5) what information is NOT presented. And if you control the who, the how, the context, the what, and the what is NOT presented to the elder board, you can essentially manipulate the elder board and control the outcome.

        I’m curious; has anyone else had a similar experience?

        1. Yes, Watchman, it is obvious that there have been a LOT of men with skill and integrity on the Elder board at Harvest in the past and there are likely still some now, but if the example of Sunday’s performance of four of the current Elders is any example, there may not be many left. I can understand that James MacDonald is extremely cunning but if he was actually violating the HBC constitution (as Dave Corning asserts, and I have no reason to believe that untrue), surely that was a firm place to stand while demanding that JM step down?

        2. Ditto Watchman, earlier this year I had a very similar experience. I brought my concerns, all of which have been covered extensively by this site (TED), to: Dan Marquardt, Dan George, Joe Martin, Steve Huston, Barry Slabaugh, Scott Phelps, and ultimately these meetings resulted (fast forward) in two 100+ minute meetings with Rick Donald + one elder. The first was also with Dan George and the last one with Steve Huston. I also brought a witness to both meetings such that every word might be established. The first meeting included my father, a preacher’s son and an outsider to HBC, none the less a believer, and an advocate. Rick was visibly bothered/resistant and all but refused to allow it. The second meeting included my wife. I concur completely with your summary as it has been, I believe, further exemplified by Dave’s letter and the overwhelming response to the horrible video posted and shown maligning those godly men I mentioned. Rick is gate keeper and a hindrance to real dialogue along true biblical avenues. Unfortunately due to the now diluted board and the youthfulness of some of these men, I am reminded of who dropped the stones first when Jesus said, “He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.” These younger guys are in my opinion lacking in discernment and wisdom. Perhaps that is why all those longer on the tooth men like Dave left long ago. Wisdom and discernment is not short tracked.

    2. I come from an elder ruled/led church back in Canada. Harvest is not elder led. Even there elder government is not set up correctly. Elder led is where all elders have equal voice and the pastor is also an elder with equal voice and the congregation has equal voice when it comes to voting matters. (Yes, there are special times where the pastors voice has more weight to it but not very often.) Harvest has two levels of elders. James MacDonald and his group of elders, and then the elders underneath and it seems like the congregation has no say (This is my perspective about the congregation in Harvest, please correct me if I am wrong.) The way Harvest is set up in their elder-ship, disqualifies them from being elder led.

      1. A great book to read about Elders is Pastoring with Elders.

    3. Congregational rule may have it’s short comings. But if congregants choose to trust their interests and welfare to an elder board, it seems that THEY should be the ones to elect those elders. Elder rule should not mean “elders appointed by higher-ups,” because the elders should represent the people, not the leadership.

      1. Agreed, Watchman, because, in the end, people will vote with their feet and their dollars, if they are denied a voice in the church.

  6. can anyone tell me where Moody stands with this conflict. I trust them to say the truth.

    1. Moody May Not Be a Name You Can Trust September 18, 2013 — 12:03 pm

      Moody’s President attends Harvest. Moody publishes MacDonald’s books. Moody invited MacDonald to speak at its conferences, which make money for the school. Where do you think Moody lands?

    2. Moody May Not Be a Name You Can Trust September 18, 2013 — 12:04 pm

      Moody’s former President, however, is a name you can trust. You might want to give Dr. Stowell a call.

    3. Sadly and more importantly none, and I mean NONE, no Moody Church and no other church in the Chicagoland area EVER said anything in terms of warning its people and others or even as little as publicly comment when James MacDonald senior pastor of HBC welcomed purveyor of vampiric, prosperity scam and Trinity denying modalist heretic TD Jakes while officiating him as “orthodox” while giving him a ticket and an official welcome into the broader fold of American leavenjellycalism. NONE…

      1. Walk by Faith Not By Sight September 18, 2013 — 1:06 pm

        Despeville; “And that” …(as radio legend Paul Harvey was once famous for saying)…..” Is the rest of the story”.

    4. Set Free From HBC September 18, 2013 — 1:03 pm

      Here’s where it appears Moody stands on the issue. In the most recent elder update they use this letter from Gene Getz to say he endorses their elder process. I wonder if Getz spoke with any disgruntled elders? Looks like this meeting was back in March before the most recent elder resignations.


      Keep in mind that the chairman of Moody is none other than Jerry Jenkins, whose son Dallas works at HBC. Also Jerry just came out with a new book called “I Saul” that is co-authored with MacDonald. http://www.amazon.com/I-Saul-Jerry-B-Jenkins/dp/1617950068/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1379527241&sr=8-1&keywords=i+saul

      Lots of intertwining of Moody and HBC. Of course Walk in the Word is on the Moody Radio network, as well.

      One other fact to consider: Mr. Huston who use the Satanic card against Phelps and Slabaugh is a 1996 MBI grad. That’s according his LinkedIn profile:http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=3537636&locale=en_US&trk=tyah2&trkInfo=tas%3Asteve%20huston

      As a Moody grad myself, I would label Mr. Huston a “heretic” for his comments. He should know better.

      1. Ahh–that’s why Moody and not an independent auditing outfit. I’m surprised the people of HBC would accept Moody’s word on it, but then, they probably are unaware of all of this coziness. I guess any old sloppy sell job was better than nothing–no matter what it looks like when you really dig into it. JMac must have been desperate to put the sheep back to sleep. I wonder what else there is to learn? There have been several former “insiders” who have intimated in the comments here that there is much more damaging information to learn. 😦

      2. Sounds pretty incestuous to me.

        I have been wondering about Moody’s position on this for months. Most disappointing to me is it doesn’t appear that Moody has looked into both sides of this. If they continue to take the position espoused in Getz’s letter, they will definitely be impacted as well. There is nothing I would take James’ word for as I have seen him too many times tell a version of the truth (half truths if you will).

  7. Leaders of all Harvest Bible Chapels. Where are the men of integrity who are going to stand up and distance themselves from this absolute garbage? Where are you? How can you possibly still affiliate yourselves with Harvest Bible Fellowship? Is there such a thing any more as men of character, integrity and action? You MUST act.

    I have held on as long as I can at Harvest. Me and my family are done, despite the hurt and pain it will cause us.

    1. At the very least, they need to demand that James MacDonald step down as the head of the Fellowship. Hopefully, something of that nature is in the works.

    2. Lord honouring, if there are any ‘men of integrity’ left at HB Chapels, they won’t be filling their buses with naive congregants/sheep, and heading to James and Mark Driscoll’s ‘Act like Men’ conference in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada on Oct. 4-5th, or in Long Beach, CA on Oct. 18-19th or in Indianapolis, IN on Nov. 8-9th!!!

      1. I know that most or all of the Harvest churches are still promoting the conference, but interestingly, a number of churches are NOT promoting Harvest University which is also coming up next month. Something is up.

  8. I missed commenting on the video. The video sounded like a complete joke! I cannot believe such a video was aired at a supposedly “christian” church! They are totally unchrist like in what they were saying. These are grown and supposedly educated ‘christian’ men arguing over “he said she said” on video to a large and well known church? Anyone that thinks that video is ok is either a very new christian, unintelligent, or lying. This started partly over whether or not James should disclose his salary to just the elder board? There is apparently a lot to hide or something wrong to go to these lengths to try to hide his salary; publically excommunicating, calling satanic, etc. I never thought things would go this far. Although I did hear James threaten with “excommunication” in a serman before, but punlicly! People are being told not to talk to them, or else… Someone on here mentioned this being cultish, isn’t this how cults are started? These men are obviously not seeking God, and definitely not hearing from God as stated. This is not in the character of God. The Bible did say in the end times there will be false prophets, lovers of money, etc. I am also in shock over what happened to an author of this site that attended Crystal Lake. Maybe the pastor was just looking at how this site could be affecting his income when he treated someone in that way that attended his church – very unchrist like. There are some good people that work at Harvest. I am sure they feel they cannot side with this site for fear they will loose their jobs, although they probably do. Some people that work there may think bullying others is the way to get ahead at Harvest, as bullying at Harvest has been mentioned on this site. However, bullying is not Gods way, it may be Harvest way, but not God’s.

    1. As a former staff member of Harvest Rolling Meadows, I can confirm that your comment about loosing your job is real. The environment of fear and intimidation to conform is real. Thankfully, the fear for my spiritual and emotional well-being motivated me to leave and not look back. I am very sad about what is happening but it comes as no surprise. I have watched many godly leaders be ushered out in shameful ways, many details unknown to the public. My friends and I continue to pray as we watch the castle and its king(s) crumble. God will not be mocked and His longsuffering is not indefinite.

  9. After a frame by frame analysis of the “Four Elders Video” we have determined that all the head nods were not unanimously in sync. This act of disobedience disqualifies their speech from being “from God”. Please accept our apology for any inconvenience this may have caused. Scott and Barry you are no longer under church discipline and may return to HBC if you so desire.

    The above is an attempt to bring some humor to what has been and continues to be a very serious matter. We continue to pray for James and the elders to repent, for the protection of the church, and for the glory of God.

    1. While watching the video, I kept waiting to hear the four elders shout in unison “Live from Rolling Meadows, It’s Saturday Night Live!” Seriously, some of them appear to be rather uncomfortable at times. I know Scott Phelps fairly well and am blessed to count him as a friend. Scott is totally undeserving of the charges hurled at him. Others have amply dissected the falsehood and spuriousness of the comments in the video so I won’t add to that. My prayer is that the other remaining elders will someday have the courage to take a stand against what they (should) know to be wrong.

  10. What is the purpose of this website? For those who don’t trust James, you are preaching to the choir. For the rest that still admire him, no amount of criticism will matter to them. What is your objective with having this website and ongoing information? The end of HBC?

    1. “no amount of criticism will matter to them”- sad, really. Is this Jesus’ church or James’?

    2. There are several purposes. One expose James MacDonald for the one that positioned HBC with high debt. Expose James MacDonald’s gambling, high salary, mansion, luxury lifestyle, expensive cars, all gotten through the tithes and offerings of a mostly lower middle class congregation. Expose James MacDonald’s false biblical teachings. Lastly this site provides a means of support for the many that were abused by HBC.

      1. What I find most disturbing is JM’s theological drift in the direction of the Prosperity Gospel (even though the greediness and abuse of pastoral authority is quite bad enough on its own). When a pastor begins to change his theology to justify his lifestyle, he has destroyed his credibility and really needs to step down to avoid further embarrassment to himself and the wider Body of Christ.

        1. Agreed! For those who need to hear it for themselves, check out the following link, the same deduction was already made two years ago about James…

        2. @Marie,

          All these videos of Robert Morris (money herding specialist in prosperity scam), Perry Noble, Robertson or James MacDonald (a “regular folk who loves simple things” but lives in 6100 square foot mansion 🙂 )are showing nothing else but a form of Galatian heresy these people peddle for financial gain. These people assert and teach quid quo pro “God”. A cosmic juke box type of a “God” who will play out a blessing for you if you put a coin to their coffers first… Where you must obey to get your way… They mumble about obedience as a condition for a blessing as if anyone could obey perfectly, especially MacDonald who while telling people to tighten their belts in the midst of economic depression gave himself a whooping salary raise on the very backs of suffering families whom he deceived into a belief in the form of Galatian heresy so clearly spelled out here:

          “Does God then give you the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law or by your believing what you heard?”
          ~ Galatians 3:5

          When it comes to money all these people say is: LAW, LAW, LAW. Pay in they say and then we can talk fully about the GRACE. ICHABOD!

    3. One of the wounded September 18, 2013 — 9:15 am

      Dear Joe, you are totally missing it! There is another group of people out there. Yes from many of the comments it may seem like people are preaching to the choir. But guess what… the choir IS growing as eyes are getting open.if you look at the “facts” you are foolish to not see a problem that needs correcting. Wow the information is consistent and immense and as each witness comes forwards the consistency remains! I was on the “inside” and this information was covered up/hidden. When I learned about some of these things I waited for answers and none came. Only silence. This is not about Harvest as a whole. I miss and love the people there. I’ve had to leave “my home” because the leadership is sick. these who come forward are Godly men who wrestle with the issues before leaving because they love The Lord and His church enough to suffer through the madness until there is no choice for them but to dust of their sandals and leave. Each an individual story with common themes. I am a small voice of one of the wounded and am thankful for the courageous men charged with leadership and a voice to stand up and come forward. My hope is always maybe this time something will change and my church will be restored. I hope and pray you are not one of those admirers who refuse to step back and at least ask questions and investigate for yourself. I hope and pray you are not one of the pastors or leaders who admire so much that you forget to protect the flock.

      1. Folks, WHAT THE AUTHORS OF THIS SITE DON’T WANT YOU TO KNOW is that there are answers to these questions being given by Harvest elders and Pastor James – in face to face Q&A – at member meetings on each campus this month. Looks like there is one more to go in September (this Sunday 22nd, right here on their website: http://www.harvestbiblechapel.org/10780/article/article_id/368700/30-Days-of-Prayer-and-Members-Meetings) and they committed to having one every month on a different campus throughout this ministry year.

        I hope sincere questioners will actually get to see this comment and take the opportunity to HEAR THE FACTS from the mouths of those who are being continually, unjustly and unbiblically denigrated here.

        1. @Alex

          I highly doubt any of this questions will be truthfully, objectively allowed to be addressed and answered assuming that these meetings will take place according to your information. Certainly not why anyone discussing HBC shenanigans is belonging to satan and is “the enemy” according to those deceived elders. As to the rest to your assertions, would you care and show us how what is said and substantiated here is in fact “unjust” and “unbiblical” or rather you just wanted to throw these assertions and hope they will stick on their own?


  12. Men who claim to speak for God had better be very careful; for He shall bring every word into account.

  13. I saw the video posted on the Harvest website, and was stunned shocked, and not surprised either. What is sad, is that Harvest would sink so low to make such claims during a service.

    I have had my doubts on Harvest for years, maybe it was the Investigative reporter in me, but deep down I felt something wrong going on in the church. I want to thank TED, you men are bold, strong, and are doing the right thing!!!

    I haven’t gone to Harvest in some time, but I will attend this Saturday, at the Baseball Stadium (was the rental cost of the Stadium paid for by 5G?) I will keep my ears open, and get an idea from people what they thought of last weeks video.

    One thing is certain, as someone who believes in the lord, and feels he has lead me into the path of being a Conduit via a Investigative Reporter, I will do my best to look into Harvest more, and other Churches in the US who act in the same manner.

    Peace, Love, and God Bless


    1. “What is sad, is that Harvest would sink so low to make such claims during a service.”


      I get what you are saying above but really this is of no surprise. Time and time again in the Word of God we see that when the Lord wants to punish one of the first things he does is He takes the mind away rendering it foolish. One of many:

      ‘ And when his mind became arrogant and his spirit filled with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and his honor was removed from him. He was driven from human society, his mind was changed to that of an animal, he lived with the wild donkeys, he was fed grass like oxen, and his body became damp with the dew of the sky, until he came to understand that the most high God rules over human kingdoms, and he appoints over them whomever he wishes.”

      Daniel 5:20-21

      Yes, the writing is on the wall…

  14. “another fourth, recently resigned elder has courageously come to the defense of his fellow former elders. This elder has never been referred to on The Elephant’s Debt; and until now, we were unaware of his story.”

    Well. The percentage defining “consensus” among the elders is shrinking by the day!

  15. I find it quite unbelievable that the evidence demonstrating the inadequate character of James MacDonald continues to pile up and that the response of the HBC leadership is to just dig in deeper. Is JM so special that his supporters are willing to slander two innocent Christian men to retain him as the church dictator? Amazing.

    1. “Is JM so special that his supporters are willing to slander two innocent Christian men to retain him as the church dictator? Amazing.”

      Yup. His critics are just like Nazis. He said so himself. And while he may have issued some sort of fake apology, he still believes it.

  16. If I can ask, how is this elders resignation recent? Russ says that he has left in 2011.

    1. Yes, he left in 2011, and we used that language to differentiate him from the members of the Void that left earlier than Russ.

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