Rick Korte recorded a statement which was email to HBC congregants before the weekend service, in part, because HBC released it to the Chicago Tribune in response to questions for an upcoming article. It will also be made available online. In the meantime, the video can be viewed in its entirety here.
Korte stated that the Harvest 2020 has “come to the conclusion of its tasks and many of us are rolling off of 2020.” He said he would remain available as a consultant if needed, and he stated that he was “awaiting the current elders to ask if they want me to take on any additional tasks.” This team was just announced only 35 days ago, and it was charged with several significant tasks including financial accountability, structural changes to HBC (including alteration of the by-laws), and overseeing a “reconciliation” process.
Korte indicated that one of the tasks was to find a new COO and a Senior Pastor. He stated that process is well underway, and he believes the new elder board will have several candidates from which to chose. He indicated that the new elder board will be making the final choice as to the new COO and Senior Pastor.
He also stated that new candidates are being vetted for the new elder board, and he indicated that congregants will be very interested to see how these elder candidates will be voted upon. Is this a reference to a possible congregational vote?
Korte also discussed a new structure for HBC. When speaking about the coming structural changes, he stated that the “best seasons HBC ever had was when pastors reported to a pastor.” I suspect many former HBC pastor’s would disagree. Nevertheless, the new structure will involve having “business” staff reporting to a COO, and pastors will report to the Senior Pastor.
As to reconciliation, he stated that the reconciliation process was fully in the hands of Greg Bradshaw. He noted that reconciliation was not merely for those who were hurt and are now outside of HBC, but it is for HBC staff and congregants. And, as it relates to communication, he suggested that the control over communication was no longer with Harvest 2020 but is in the hands of HBC staff. The two new sources of HBC communication will be the elders and the CLT staff. He assured HBC that they would be so transparent that we would all say, “enough is enough.” Also, he concluded his optimistic remarks by encouraging HBC congregants to “trust in the church leadership team.”
However, can we be confident that this is really “Mission Accomplished?”
Providing a very different assessment of HBC leadership, Dan George resigned today effective 20 March 2019, and his letter sounds a more somber note for HBC. Notably Dan stated,
The elder board at Harvest continues to be controlled by former executive committee members . . . these men should resign immediately and make room for change.
What is interesting is that he sent his resignation letter to Julie Roys who was able to announce and publish the resignation letter before HBC could make the announcement. This move alone may suggest a lack of confidence in the Harvest 2020 team or the CLT to properly handle and communicate his resignation and concerns to the congregation of HBC. His letter can be read in full here.
Also notable in his statement was the fact that he called out the former EC members who still serve on the current elder board. He stated,
If the workings and culture of the Harvest elder board does not radically change, our church will not be able to rid itself of the old sinful, secretive, siloed, controlling culture.
Additionally, he confirmed that the elders were still not listening to the HBC congregants and their concerns. A 30+ member group of congregants at HBC – who meet often and have regular contact with the HBC Elders – wrote recommendations to the elders, and the HBC Elders have yet to discuss those concerns. Moreover, many have not even read the recommendations.
Also, Dan George confirmed that several former elders and leaders (Scott Phelps, Dan Marquardt, Barry Slabaugh, and Dan Tolbertt) offered their services to help consult and guide HBC through this crises at no cost. But, instead of ushering in voices that would have had legitimacy in the HBC world, the HBC “leaders” chose to hire the very controversial Lawrence Swicegood from the Gateway “Church.” This is the multi-million dollar corporate “church” that helped fund the disgraced “pastor” Mark Driscoll in his efforts to plant a new operation in Arizona. The “pastor” of Gateway was at one time on the board of Driscoll’s operation.
- Has anything truly changed?
- Does this sound like “Mission Accomplished?”
- Who is in truly in control of HBC, and can they be trusted?
- Is this organization more transparent because it values honesty with the congregation?
- Is this organization trustworthy in all they report to the people who so sacrificially give?
- Will there be a full accounting of the HBC finances, beyond the highly glossed yearly audit?
- Will they reconcile with former staff, elders, and congregants?
UPDATE: An hour after this posted I noticed HBC had removed Dan George as an elder on their website, but they have not posted his resignation letter. So much for your predictions of our cries of “enough is enough” to your new found transparency, Rick Korte.