On 12 April, 2019, James MacDonald met with 6 of the 7 soon-to-be-resigned elders (one was unavailable due to medical reasons) and the reconciliation consultants hired by HBC. Based upon several different sources this appears to be the best snap shot of what transpired. I wish there could be more clarity, but, as always, HBC Elders are keeping relevant and vital information from the congregation, and we must piece together the story on our own.
To understand what transpired on Friday we need to fill in a bit of the back story. In recent HBC history, when Steve Huston was Chairman of the Executive Elder Committee, he granted MacDonald permission to sell the remaining broadcast time HBC had with TBN. Eventually, MacDonald found a buyer, negotiated with TBN for the price, and acted as a go-between for HBC and TBN. He, as always, attempted to profit from this situation. He played one side off of the other in an attempt to secure $1M from the roughly $4M sale of the TBN time. He did this by telling HBC that TBN was upset with how the church had treated him, and TBN wanted to make sure MacDonald received some compensation for this deal, to the tune of $1M. HBC was unwilling to pay MacDonald $1M for the sale, and the deal sat idle.
Eventually, Trey Morris, former WITW Executive Producer, helped resolve the impasse. He put HBC and TBN personnel in contact with one another, helped them realize MacDonald was the roadblock, and the parties executed the deal directly with one another, thereby denying MacDonald his $1M to which he felt entitled. Recall, this TBN time was compensation from TBN to HBC for the sale of the Aurora property to TBN.
Fast forward, obviously MacDonald is now receiving far less money than to which he is accustomed. He is roughly 60 years old, he is too young to retire, and he needs to make some kind of a living until he is entitled to receive his retirement funds from HBC. The easiest way for him to make money is rebrand and sell the sermons he “created” as an employee of HBC for Walk In the Word. So, MacDonald has been desperate to obtain the naming rights, the branding, the sermons, and most importantly, the donor list.
So, MacDonald now wants everything related to WITW and his $2M from the TBN sale. Wait, so why demand $2M? Well, because MacDonald is about the money. MacDonald believes that the real value of the TBN time was only $2M, and it was through his, and his attorney’s, effort that drove the value of the time to $4M. Therefore, in MacDonald “logic,” he is entitled to the $2M of increased value. Even assuming that MacDonald’s story is true, he as the agent of HBC was merely selling the property of HBC and would not be entitled to any of the proceeds from the sale unless there was a written agreement to that effect.
To date, the disqualified and soon-to-be-resigned elders of HBC have offered MacDonald the WITW naming rights, sermons, donor list, and $100,000 in cash consideration. MacDonald needed to accept that offer by Friday, 12 April, 2019. UPDATE 1: As of Sunday morning one source was able to confirm that a verbal offer was made by the elders to MacDonald up to $500,000 in addition to the WITW rights. UPDATE 2: There was an agreement between the parties, but negotiations continue at this hour – 14 April, 2019, 1:00 PM CST. This was, at least, part of the purpose of the meeting on Friday. It is my understanding that the HBC Elders did not give into MacDonald’s demand for more money. (There may be reasons for this beyond a sudden onset of HBC elder heroism). His response to the HBC offer was to threaten the elders with litigation if his demands were not met. Wait, he also threatened … wait for it … their wives to be named if he was not satisfied.
As always, we close with questions.
- Why in the world are the elders – some of whom, oversaw the financial disaster that brought HBC to this point and who will be resigning in the coming weeks – the ones to represent the interests of HBC and the donations of the congregants?
- Why not put off any final negotiations until the new elder board is put into place?
- Why would these men allow MacDonald the tools he needs to fleece fellow Christians? WWJD?
- Given that Bill Sperling, in part, financed the litigation against Scott and his wife, Me and my wife, and Julie (sorry Neal), how is Bill feeling about litigation involving spouses today?
- Will MacDonald really sue the elders and their wives, or is this just yet another hollow threat from a petulant child who is not getting his way?
- After taking more than his fair share of the donations to HBC, HBF, and WITW for years, why would HBC offer another dime to the man who ruined them, their reputation, the reputation of Jesus and His Kingdom, and many other innocent lives?