Trey Morris, Former Executive Producer of Walk in the Word Ministries Speaks

update button 20 jan 2019Yesterday afternoon, Trey Morris, the former Executive Producer of Walk in the Word ministries released a statement on his Facebook account.  He published it as an open letter to the body of Harvest Bible Chapel.

My Open Letter to Harvest Bible Chapel
January 19, 2019

I spent 14 years at Harvest Bible Chapel. 12 years as a member, small group leader, and production ministry volunteer at the Rolling Meadows Campus. For the last 2 years, I was the Executive Producer for James MacDonald’s media ministry Walk in the Word. I oversaw weekend worship production, the radio ministry, and developed Walk in the Word Television.

To say that I was “all in” for Harvest and James is an understatement.

I will be forever indebted to James. His preaching shaped the man, husband, and father that I am today. During the most difficult season of my life, he was there for me.

So for me to make this statement is difficult. I know that a lot of people who will be surprised and even hurt by my words, but after the last 3 months, I feel led by the Lord to speak out. I do this because I love Harvest Bible Chapel. The people are like family to me who still work and attend the church. I do not want to destroy anyone or anything, but I do call for repentance, change, and transparency so that Harvest Bible Chapel can continue to reach people and change lives through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I will not be commenting on any specific events or incidents that I personally witnessed or experienced while on staff at HBC. To be honest, it doesn’t really matter. I was aware of what the culture of Harvest was and I was willing to accept it, so that I could play a small part in Kingdom building on a level that I had never experienced and most likely will never again.

I can say that I saw very little in Julie Roys’ articles or blog posts that surprised me. I saw similar actions by James, staff, and Elders throughout my 14 years at Harvest. During my time at Harvest, I knew that there were serious issues with James’ temperament, finances, and Elder oversight, but I justified it by saying,

“But, God is doing amazing things with James at Harvest Bible Chapel. People are being saved, lives are being changed, God is being Glorified.”

I was wrong. None of us should have ever tolerated it. We should have spoken truth more often, stood up for what is right, and demanded that we should have been better!

I have contemplated speaking out, but I didn’t want to hurt my friends or admit my failures for not saying something when I was on staff. But, after reading about the severity of some of the issues, I decided that I must speak up, even if others are unwilling.

What James, XLT, and the Elders have done in the last couple of years is unconscionable. How they have treated people who have sought truth and wanted change is just wrong.

• The dissolving of the Harvest Fellowship and subsequent firing of the staff.
• The misuse of funds from faithful donors to the Fellowship and Walk in the Word.
• The expelling of children from Harvest Christian Academy because their parents had spoken out against James and Harvest.
• The lawsuit against Julie Roys, Ryan, and Melinda Mahoney, and Scott and Sarah Bryant. This was not only unbiblical but also vengeful and hateful meant to punish people for seeking the truth.

But the final straw has been how they have handled the church in Naples.

• The firing of Harvest Naples pastor, John Secrest, for speaking out because he no longer wanted the Naples Church to be a campus.

How can Harvest Bible Chapel two-days into the season of “peacemaking” justify such an action?

It is time for Godly, strong men to stand up and to graciously, humbly lead Harvest Bible Chapel. We need men who are willing to be servant leaders that finally put others before themselves. To care for the sheep, defend the weak, and love always.

I do not believe that can be achieved without a full confession of sins, full submission to the full Elder board, and to disclose all of the facts surrounding these decisions. The truth must be revealed, and the church must become fully transparent to the Elders and members.

Members, Elders, and Staff must stand up and demand the truth or this vicious cycle will continue endlessly.

It’s time for the men of Harvest Bible Chapel to finally “Act Like Men”.

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46 thoughts on “Trey Morris, Former Executive Producer of Walk in the Word Ministries Speaks


  1. JMac been there since Jan 6. Pastor Secrest was fired last week. Since he opposed to JMac taking over his church. Who fired Pastor Secrest?

    1. Trei Tatum and Rick Donald have been flying down there since Oct…. I’m guessing to check out their new campus. I wonder who’s footing the bill for those flights? Harvest is going to be in deep financial trouble real soon.

    2. I thought it was announced that James would not be preaching at any campus during his sabbatical? These photos seem to tell another story.

  2. I worked at harvest 3 years. I was told to censor the elephants debt from google 😉

    Sidenote: One time Jon Rohlf and I prank called Trey Morris from about 20 feet outside Trey’s office with James MacDonald’s name spoofed on the caller ID.

    James was on the Risen For The Nations tour in countries without toilets, so we called Trey Morris with clips taken from James MacDonald’s sermons where he was yelling “IT’S TOO HARD!!”, “I WANNA GO HOME!!” then paused so Trey could respond.

    Trey said “James it’s gonna be alright” and tried to give him some advice. Then we hung up and we were not sure if he really believed it was James. But then Trey walked out of his office and told some people that James just called him. looooooool!!!!

    1. NeverRegrettedLeaving January 21, 2019 — 1:05 pm

      I’m finding it hard to find the humor in your prank. Maybe it is because it is so closely related to the bullying culture we have all experienced at harvest. Maybe one day I will see the humor, just not today.

      https://www.gofundme.com/the-elephant039s-debt-legal-defense

  3. Poor people, I don’t understand why the congregations can’t see what’s going on there? We work so hard to making money and tithing to our God not for James. Harvest churches are Gods church and elders church, JM made his own family business church. When All the elders (who started this church) left this church I don’t think they had choice to stay and I think they don’t want congregations get hurt by any circumstance. I don’t know if repent is enough to forgive him, but if God wants me to do that then I would, we left Harvest few years ago because we could see what’s going on there and we should saw many people got hurt by unreasonable stuff, my husband and I am very sorry for many people and we are thanks to you what you doing for people. Thank you Julie,

  4. As a TEDS grad and 30+ years pastor, I respectfully suggest that HBC’s “men,” “men, “men” orientation is a major contributor to the current toxicity in its leadership. Church as corporation appeals to and serves well the male ego so pathetically enhanced by a ridiculous literalist hermeneutic. See the current shape of the Roman Catholic Church clergy for another angle on such nonsense.

    1. Totally agree. They’ve pumped so much pride of position into the male gender and into church leadership that James’ pride has reached its logical destination. Combine all of that with an entrepreneurial desire to grow an empire, cloaked as church growth and “God’s blessing”, you have this.

  5. TED, only eternity will show how God’s Kingdom and His people have been affected by this horrific situation. Likely many others could share heart-wrenching stories although at some point that seems unnecessary. Repentance is absolutely essential from Pastor James and the HBC Elders. On the other side perhaps now a time of grace and forgiveness would lead to transformation. That is easy for me to say since I’ve not suffered as have others but, love covers a multitude of sins (like ours with the Lord); perhaps the season is right to bless those who …

  6. I came to believe that Jesus Christ was MY savior through the “Precepts” study at HBC Rolling Medows. For this I am forever grateful. The one thing that I remember after sitting under the preaching of Pastor James? “Don’t follow me, I will disappoint. Follow Jesus, He won’t.”
    Unfortunately this is true. But the evil one is active against the church of Jesus the Christ. Open your Bible. Test God. Do not trust in man.

    1. Well. It is written that you shall not put the Lord your God to the test. But ok.

      1. I am sure that Thai meant “Trust God”.

        1. Oh okay. My bad!

      2. Shay… there are 2 different testings… the one you refer to is when the Israelites were testing God’s patience in the wilderness.. the other “testing” is to make sure something is good and true as in I Thess 5 where scripture says to test EVERYTHING… ie the Hebrew and Greek words express this difference… the english tend to conflate the 2 types of testing…we are to test God, to discern whether whatever is in accord with His Word and His principles…. Malachi 3 also gives an example of God telling us to “test” Him…

    2. Well said Thai.

  7. Dear Trey, thank you for post corroborating the sinful behavior of McDonald and elders at Harvest Chicago. In all love and gentleness I encourage you not to be forever indebted to James for his preaching. James’ preaching did not shape the man, husband, and father you are today. YOU DID in obedient response to Jesus and His Word.

    I also lovingly challenge equating fame and numbers with success in God’s Kingdom. Jesus warned in Luke 16:25, “What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight.” You admitted, “I was aware of what the culture of Harvest was and I was willing to accept it, so that I could play a small part in Kingdom building on a level that I had never experienced and most likely will never again.”

    As you look at your past association with Harvest, please see the spiritual emptiness of equating human fame and fortune with the Kingdom of God. Numbers of worshipers seated in ever larger buildings with huge budgets and 2000 radio stations does NOT equal greater success to God than multiplying small groups of Christians gathering in houses led by lay leaders with no sound system or budget. In fact, the former are an affront to God when godly people involved refrain from exposing sin for fear of “bringing down the empire.”

    Don’t believe a lie that you will never be part of something greater than what you experienced at Harvest. (In all truth, it wasn’t really so great- it was built on hidden sin and a landscape littered with spiritually wounded people). Rather, walk with Jesus, actively make disciples of those whom your life touches, and determine that henceforth you will build no one’s Kingdom or Name but Jesus’. Do these things and you WILL be part of something greater than you’ve ever experienced- the moving of God’s Spirit worldwide bringing the nations to himself. You’ll see it fully in heaven.

  8. We Need to Be Seeing the Future, as James is as a Visionary. Some Harvest Money has already begun shifting to Naples, a very wealthy area in Florida that covers a huge geographic area. (On a recent visit, I saw three Bentleys on the road in one day.) So, the prospects are great for making a lot of money and the weather is better for Harleys and leather vests and being a tough, mean dude, as James has become known for being for the past 20 years.
    The Naples Pastor is out and James is planning to preach there. And, they (the congregation there) did not know about the Harvest controversy here and the majority of potential church goers there probably don’t either. So, maybe the plan is to let the buildings here to go back to the banks, as the debt is unrecoverable given the exodus from Chicago churches and the income fall that is coming quickly. Walk away from the mortgages, as James has walked away from every other challenge that he knows he cannot control and win. Start a new Mega church in Naples and do the Lord’s work while making themselves rich in the sunshine. And God may allow it, even appear to bless it, as many evil things have been permitted in our fallen world. We cannot stop it, no more then we can stop Joel Olsteen from his prosperity ramblings. Just keep exposing the truth, asking questions and walking away from a church when we don’t get solid, Biblical answers. James used to stand in the pulpit and hold up his bible and say to test things against it. He preached a series called “I Really Want to Change, So Help Me God” where he outlined the steps of repentance and restitution, so he knows the right answers and chooses sin over peace. He does not need words from any of us or his closest companions, who are turning on him in droves. He needs to repent. Period. My guess is he is not going to and we’ll be seeing a large new church in Naples with loud music and a trail of destruction leading from it. We’ll call it the Church of James and there will be huge pictures of him on the walls, inside and out….smiling wide with his Kool-Aid stained lips.

    1. I am sorrry that I believe what you are saying is truth. I ask that we, who have left HBC pray for the churches we are attending, and their Pastors.

    2. Harvest said saturday night at service James won’t be preaching at Naples.

  9. I hope Greg Bradshaw is as honorable as some here think, but he suggested we leave Harvest when my wife and I started asking questions and he was certain that James was the best leader he had ever met. Our questions were simple and we were cut off and out quickly, so it appeared to us that Greg was a Kool-Aid drinker, as well.

    1. I can’t agree with this more – as I was blindsided [in 2013] by Pastor Bradshaw’s wilfully blind loyalty to JMAC / Harvest in the midst of clear evidence of spiritual and financial impropriety. As a matter of fact, he was a victim himself James’ penchant for ‘dressing down’ and berating staff, yet was still loyal to an unequivocal fault. I was so disappointed about this knowing how much Greg showed abundant care for the HBC CL flock in all other matters except for this glaring and integrity-damaging blindspot.

      As a show of some grace, I can understand the [likely] immense pressure he was wrestling with internally about having so much on the line – financially speaking – if he decided to ‘break free’ in the midst of managing his MS diagnosis, his family (older, college-aged /-bound children), etc. This is undoubtedly the reason many staff sold-out to loyalty over integrity.

      Bradshaw – of all people / pastors – choosing loyalty over integrity was the final straw for our family in September 2013. :- (

      1. Malcolm, recognizing there are many different dynamics that makes each of us who we are, part of it is personalities… how people are wired differently… some are reformers and some are loyalists… some are fine with conflict and others will avoid it at all costs… understanding different personalities helps us give grace to the different responses in different situations… not that it excuses ungodly behavior and staying silent… but for some it is far harder than others… for some, being a part of something of significance is a drug… being close to power and influence can be a drug… and some need their fix as they have sought the anointing/power instead of the One Who anoints… Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit is the One Who gets the credit for our transformations, our salvation… the glory goes to God for the good, we are stealing God’s glory when we give the glory to man instead…

        1. I agree, it is far harder for some of us to stand up to strong personalities, than for others. And what about faith, praying, hoping, trusting, waiting on God to do His work in transforming a person who spends so much time studying the Word? It is hard for some of us to light the match that will burn down the lives of others and harm our own family as well. When do I drawn the line, start throwing stones, stop forgiving, start spreading a bad report, start keeping records of wrong, stop being patient & kind, etc. etc. I am not a member of HBC, I don’t have first hand knowledge of any of this although watching for over a decade I recognized some traits, but I am a pastor’s wife to an narcissistic, intimidating, deceitful man, who’s small congregation thinks he is great, at first, – because they only see him playing the role. There are so many factors – yes, some may sound self-centered (like a roof over my & my kid’s head called the parsonage, insurance, income, fear); and there are people who came to the church based on his personality that would be wounded. And how many of you would go to your spouse’s employer, knowing they would protect him first, to tell on your spouse which would lead to major fallout. I feel attacked by the mob, just reading this. Can’t you stay focused on JM & the real problem and not attack all those that were caught up in his wake by association, legal commitments or vows made in God’s name?

    2. Yes over and over we’ve heard it from many people, myself included: “harvest isn’t for everyone”, especially not those who question what has been hidden.

  10. Disillusioned Harvest church member January 20, 2019 — 4:49 pm

    As I read the comments from people who knew Pastor James more intimately than those who watch him on a screen, the situation was worse than I could imagine. I had for a long time, suspected that something was off. But I trusted the elder board to be overseeing the affairs of the church, looking out for the well being of the congregation. I feel duped. I feel betrayed. I feel stupid for not heeding my own intuition that something was not right. Even now, as we begin to look for a new church home, I find myself feeling skeptical about the pastors we meet. Are they truly genuine? Are they truly serving their church or themselves? I could never go back to Harvest as I have lost complete faith in ALL the leadership who knew this was going on and yet did nothing. How could they ever be trusted again not to fall under the power of a another controlling, self-serving pastor? They can’t.

    1. I know how you feel. I have been around Harvest over 16 years and have hoped for the best myself. There are Godly pastors and people in this world, don’t lose hope. I did but God was faithful to care for me and be my shepherd when these people of the church abandoned me in many ways. God does not take lightly what has happened to his sheep of his flock. These leaders should be very fearful of God’s wrath for how they treated us. Keep praying and know God loves you and gave his life for you. He will guide us to a better place, I have already seen it. Dont be mad at yourself, I wanted to give Pastor James and leadership the benefit of the doubt and move on from any past mistakes. The only problem is that the abuse continued and continues. Hopefully he repents before God does it his way.

    2. dear disillusioned… Bless your heart with more of Him! I’m so sorry that we have to go through this, it’s painful, but God grows and matures us, His Bride, and He says in James 1 so that we will be mature and complete… also see Romans 5 for this painful process. God is revealing the deceptions going on… and it is a painful and ugly process… and most grieve in response… even if they cannot articulate that… but scripture tells us over and over and over “do not be deceived… by empty words, by persuasive words, by any means” Eph 5/Col 2/2 Thess 2 for a few references… also see Galatians 6:7-10 do not be deceived.. God cannot be mocked. a man reaps what he sows… and then specifically mentions a harvest…

      I call these deceptive practices by leadership the betrayal of the sacred trust… it is deep, and you will grieve, as your soul has been betrayed by those who are suppose to be looking out for your soul… sadly, the established institutional church is no longer safe for many… and so we are seeing an increase in the “spiritual refugees”, the “dones” and the “nones” due to this type of domineering type of leadership… just know that you are grieving… this grief/loss is as valid as losing a loved one… I grieved for 4 years as I started becoming aware of the ungodly conduct including corruption, coverup going on in the insitutional Church leadership… know that the institution is NOT the Kingdom Church.. the people are… the Ekklessia… I differentiate between the I Church (institution) and the O Church (organic/people/Ekklesia)… ..

  11. Until the McDonalds are gone, all of them, and the other faithful soldiers that James has assembled, I don’t believe Harvest will survive. God is in control, let’s see what his plan is.

    1. NeverRegrettedLeaving January 20, 2019 — 7:55 pm

      I think God is looking down on us and saying “Let me see what they will do”. Those who have created this site took a good step. Those who left Harvest and shared their stories took a good step. All eyes are now on those who continue to attend and donate to Harvest. In my opinion, it is not God honoring.

      https://www.gofundme.com/the-elephant039s-debt-legal-defense

      1. So, in your “humble” opinion, our brothers and sisters in Christ, who attend Harvest, who are growing in faith and strengthening their walk with Christ, are dishonoring God? So, hypothetically, if the Lord appeared to the brother at Harvest and a the writers of this blog, what would He say to each? To the brother at Harvest, would he say, “you dishonor me with your worship here.” And to the writer of this blog, the Lord would say, “Well, done. Thank you for publically destroying my Harvest body of believers and taking down James” Seriously. What’s wrong with you.

  12. Too little, too late; the elders are complicit and accesories after the fact. There is only one solution now, and that is the unconditional resignation of the senior pastor, period. Trust, integrity, and leadership has been not only lost, but totally destroyed.

  13. In light of letting leaders know who has been wounded and give the ability to repent and reconcile join me in adding your name on social media #walkingwounded.

  14. It is not sin that will condemn a man, but the lack of repentance, and fleshed out in ones daily life.

  15. Respectfully Trey, and addressing your closing comments: no, sorry, every single Harvest “elder” is as guilty as MacDonald and needs to immediately resign. Likewise all Harvest pastors, leaders, senior staff.

    Just like you in your honest admission above, they too have all – on multiple occasions, over much time – have either turned a blind eye to, or, conversely, encouraged MacDonald’s arrogant, gross, evil, and dispicable behavior.

    The toxicity at Harvest is so deeply ingrained and poisonous that only a total cleansing or closure will cure it. (Look at the MacDonald family – this is now a *multigenerational* pattern of evil. This cancer runs deep.)

    And just like rogue cancer cells, if any current elders or leaders or pastors remain, it will only be a short matter of time before we all just witness this same gross immorality again, and again, and again…

    If anyone had any doubt whatsoever on this assumption, it took only **hours** after releasing their fake “peacemaking” document before the “elders” or “XLT” (or whatever those freakshows innacurately call themselves) before they once again drew long knives to drestroy the Naples pastor, and his family, and anyone that supports him. Just flipping hours! After all that came crashing down and the global rebukes against Harvest, and PR-inspired “peacemaking” statement, they could not control their evil for even just a few hours. Think about that?! Who does that?! Evil, arrogant, perverse men, that’s who.

    But was anyone actually surprised? Not at all. This a +20-year pattern/template/blueprint/playbook that Harvest elders/leaders operate from: Get caught stealing, lying, cheating, abusing, thieving, defrauding, bullying, skimming, gross immorality, or just plain being an arrogant punk, issue a fake “we’re kinda sorry” statement, giggle behind closed doors, and then go crush and destroy the person that brought their evil sins to light.

    No, it is all one big con and sham and joke to them. They all need to go. Every. Single. One. Of. Them.

    1. Well said Joe D, Thank you!!! I agree wholeheartedly.

      To those of you who support. JM, Harvest, Vertical Church, and GCC churches STOP supporting abusive bullies with your attendance, tithes, and service. This reflects on you. Think about that. “ A companion of fools suffers harm” Proverbs 13:20. When something bad happens to you, will you want care? Why will anyone listen to you who, having eyes do not see and having ears do not hear the cries of the walking wounded. Please consider my words carefully. Thank you.

    2. Fortunately, I think the Naples pastor is going to have, for lack of a better term, the last laugh. In the last couple of days I’ve read numerous posts on blogs and social media in complete support of John Secrest. Per an article at churchleaders.com, MacDonald did NOT preach at the Naples church as previously planned.

      1. The Least Of These January 21, 2019 — 6:14 am

        He starts next week if he has his way…

        1. He will not be preaching there at all.

  16. NeverRegrettedLeaving January 20, 2019 — 1:05 pm

    Where are all of the other campus pastors and why aren’t they taking a stand like Pastor Secrest? VERY DISSAPOINTING to see the true character of these “leaders”.

    https://www.gofundme.com/the-elephant039s-debt-legal-defense

    1. Agreed.
      C’mon, Greg Bradshaw.
      God is purifying His Church.
      Align yourself with God and His purposes, not against Him.
      Stand with the Lord and for good, and not with instruments of wickedness and evil.
      Your flock at Crystal Lake is waiting on you, depending on you to do the right thing.
      Please forgive me for not sounding the alarm loud enough.
      Longing for the day…one day soon…when you and I can rejoice together over God’s purifying work in His Church.

      1. Amen, Mike! I love Greg, but he needs to get off the HBC bandwagon, and lead God’s people. Greg is a good man, but has bought the ‘JMac and HBC can do no wrong’ shtick, hook, line and sinker, for far too long.

    2. Jeff Donaldson, Mo Zacariah, and Luke MacDonald are campus pastors are in on the gig so they will do anything to protect James MacDonald. For Jeff and Mo it is about the nice 6 figure salaries that they receive. The flock be damned. The elders can’t get rid of MacDonald since he is on the XLT and thus can prevent a vote for his removal. The flock will have to vote with their feet. Once the cash dries up, the mortgage notes will come due.

      1. You are right. Absolutely right.

      2. This is the truth. Members at harvest cant technically vote. They vote by their attendance and their giving.

        Only time will tell if members leave and decrease giving

        It is a sad situation all the way around.

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