The new leadership team at Harvest Bible Chapel has released an updated statement in light of the recent news that the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability ended the church’s membership.
In a statement earlier this month, the council explained the decision was made “due to significant violations of four of ECFA’s Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship.”
They also added this: “ECFA’s investigation of Harvest Bible Chapel began on November 28, 2018. After a thorough review of documents made available at that time as well as an on-site visit with church officials, ECFA reported on December 10, 2018 that the church was in good standing. This statement would not have been made if Harvest Bible Chapel had shared all crucial information with ECFA.”
The Chicago-area megachurch fired its founder and pastor James MacDonald earlier this year after a series of allegations involving bullying, inappropriate touching, misusing funds and other serious issues came to light. The church has since installed a new leadership team.
In their updated statement, church leaders explained, “The greatest area of failure to meet ECFA’s standards was in the management and control of the former Senior Pastor’s discretionary account. This account was a portion of the general compensation budget and was managed and controlled exclusively by a combination of three people in 2018: the former Senior Pastor, the former Chief Operating Officer, and the former Senior Administrator to the Senior Pastor. These three people are no longer employed by Harvest Bible Chapel.”
They also went on to explain what they are doing about it now. Along with closing the accounts associated with expensing things from the senior pastor’s office, the church also says they have hired “an out-of-state accounting firm that specializes in not-for-profit organizations and forensic accounting to assist” in a financial review of the church.
Finally, they added this: “Harvest Bible Chapel will seek reimbursement from James MacDonald if any items are deemed by the accounting firm to be unreimbursed personal expenses.”
HBC leaders say they will reapply to the council once the financial reviews are complete.