As you may recall, on October 24th, The Elephant’s Debt published a letter by David Wisen. In that piece, we explained to our readers that David Wisen is the Teaching Pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel Springlake in Michigan; and more importantly, that he was the President of the Van Kampen Asset Management Company. In other words, David Wisen is a wealthy man, who has donated tens of millions of dollars to Harvest Bible Chapel over the many years. Perhaps most significant of all, during the Harvest Bible Chapel (HBC) / Harvest Bible Fellowship (HBF, now GCC) turmoil dating to the summer of 2016, Mr. Wisen was hand-picked by James MacDonald as the Harvest Bible Fellowship (HBF) representative who James wanted to oversee the audit of the HBF funds. In other words, Mr. Wisen was no stranger to James MacDonald. Rather, he was a close ally for many years and James trusted him to fairly review the the financial records in question. In the aftermath of the audit, Mr. Wisen penned a scathing letter that culminated by calling the very character of James MacDonald into question.
In response to the now-publicized Wisen letter, Harvest Bible Chapel issued an elder update on 9 November 2017. Unlike previous updates, which often had a clinical/institutional tone, this update read as a rambling, disjointed, emotional response to the Wisen disclosure. In addition to characterizing the GCC leaders as being “fundamentally flawed” in their thinking, the letter goes on to suggest that these leaders are obstinate (“unwilling to yield to better information”), unreasonable, and looking to “discredit [HBC] before the HBF pastors.” A number of sources have now come forward to acknowledge that the elders of Harvest Bible Chapel did not write this elder update, but rather James MacDonald himself is responsible for the content of this message.
Ironically, in the section of the elder update regarding “Lessons About Governance,” James wrote the following:
More specifically, those outside our governance with no view of its mutuality can assume, based upon their observation of our capable staff, that accountability to our Board must be weak. Yet when accountability is properly understood, not as protection against error or a plan to assure that mistakes are never made, but as a system through which staff regularly answer to Elder authority for their decisions, it begins to make sense.
As one might expect, the publication of this Elder Update was not met with indifference. Indeed, sources now confirm that in the aftermath of James’ decision to publish the update without elder input, Randy Williams, the Chairman of the Executive Elder Committee, resigned his position in protest.
Two things need to be noted at this point. First, the resignation of Mr. Williams is not an isolated affair. In the previous six months, several major leaders have all left HBC under varying circumstances including:
Dallas Jenkins (Executive Director Vertical Church Media),
Bill Molinari (Director of Operations HBF),
Jim Rowan (Elder and Head of Security),
Earl Seals (Elder and “Mighty Man”),
Dan Plantz (Director of Camp Harvest)
Fred Adams (Chief Financial Officer),
Kevn Dekker (Campus Pastor and Pastor of Adult Ministry) and
Dean Butters (Executive Director of Business Operations)
The second, and perhaps more pressing issue is this. It is important to understand that there are two components to the Harvest Elder Board. The larger component is referred to as the governing elders. This is a group of men who wield little power and possess little information. The second, smaller and more vital component of the board is called the Executive Elder Committee. This more intimate group of men are the ones who allegedly are empowered to oversee the staff Executive Leadership Team. Randy Williams was the Chairman of this smaller and more trusted group of men; and, according to our sources, he resigned, in part, because he did not know that this update was being written, let alone published.