An overview of the changes in Harvest Bible Chapel in the past few weeks. From the resignation of Landon and Luke MacDonald to the addition of Lawrence Swicegood. Rick Donald is also on leave as well. This is a summary of what has transpired recently at Harvest as chaos ensued.
“Civilization begins with order, grows with liberty and dies with chaos.”
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ESV
Many of the players in this picture are now out of Harvest.
If it wasn’t so much like a Greek tragedy Harvest Bible Chapel could be like this classic scene from Mel Brooks
There have been a number of changes that have taken place at Harvest Bible Chapel these past few weeks. This post is a summary of what has taken place in trying to keep up with the ongoing scandal.
February 16, 2019 Meeting
Up above you can watch Harvest elder Bill Sperling read a statement at Rolling Meadows in mid February 16, 2019. The five member executive committee of the elders announced that they will be resigning over the next few months. Ron Duitsman, who allegedly provided the legal funding for the lawsuit against The Elephant’s Debt also planned on resigning. In the service Sperling called the previous week, “without a question one of the most difficult weeks in the history of our church.” Sperling admitted all the complaints and issues people raised about James MacDonald over the years. In the talk Sperling admitted that the elders did not deal with James MacDonald appropriately. In that meeting at Rolling Meadows Bill Spering announced that Harvest Naples was returning to local autonomy. You can read about Naples in, “Russell Taylor Comes to Harvest Bible Chapel Naples, Plus an EFCA Pastor Establishes a GoFundMe for John Secrest.” Harvest also announced that they are not going to establish a new campus in the Hinsdale area. The plan called Harvest 2020 will be lead by Rick Korte. Word is he gave quite an act and deserves an Oscar for his performance. The members of the “Harvest 2020” team will be Greg Bradshaw who is the Crystal Lake Campus Pastor, Laura Wiegle, and Elders Brian Musso, Tod Desmarais and Mike Collett. Lawrence Swicegood who allegedly does a lot of the dirty work for Robert Morris of Gateway Church was also contracted out as well. Rick Donald who was known as James MacDonald’s assassin gave the sermon. A number of people walked out. This was reported by the Chicago Tribune.
Changing Elder Board
The 35 member elder board shrunk dramatically as well. James MacDonald grew it years ago in a way to allow him to control Harvest Bible Chapel. The board shrunk from 35 to 9. Those currently on the elder board are:
- Sam Borras (Elgin)
- Gil De las Alas (Niles)
- Tod Desmarais (Deerfield Road)
- John Dierker (Crystal Lake Campus)
- Dan George (Rolling Meadows)
- Steve Huston (Elgin)
- Dale Kuntz (Rolling Meadows)
- Jeff Smith (Deerfield)
- Bill Spelring (Rolling Meadows)
Dan George plans to leave soon. I looked at Dan George in, “Competing Analysis on Dan George’s Statement of Repentance.”
Luke and Landon MacDonald are Gone
On February 19, 2019 Luke and Landon MacDonald resigned from Harvest Bible Chapel. Luke and Landon were called to resign as their presence highlighted the issue of nepotism which was an issue at Harvest. This is how Julie Roys wrote about the situation.
In his resignation letter, Lead Pastor Luke MacDonald said his “professional dream” had been “to one day grow to be the Senior Pastor of the church.” But he added that “conversations with elders and staff” had made it clear that he “should move forward to whatever God has next.”
Noting that his birth year and Harvest’s were the same, Landon MacDonald, executive pastor of student ministries, said he “always thought that something like that would be said at my funeral having served at Harvest my whole life.” Landon said his years at Harvest have been wonderful and that teaching the students at Harvest has been “a dream come true.” But he expressed that the the past few months have been “painful and heavy in ways I didn’t think possible.”
This is he resignation letter of Luke MacDonald
I am resigning from my pastoral position at Harvest as of Tuesday, February 19th, effective immediately.
Pastoring at Harvest has been a delight. From my years in Niles as the youth pastor, through pastoring students in Rolling Meadows, and then to Vertical Worship and preaching on the weekends, there have been many great years. The conferences and Good Fridays and altar calls have been great, but the true joy has been the blessing of walking alongside so many wonderful individual people. We have been blessed to work alongside many talented and tireless servants. My professional dream has always been to one day grow to be the Senior Pastor of the church. Even after my parent’s ministry at Harvest ended, I was hopeful that with enough humility and time that could still happen. However, conversations with elders and staff over the past week have made it clear that we should move forward to whatever God has next for us.
I sincerely love the people of Harvest and will continue to pray that the church will find unity and fruit in a new season ahead. While we have no current future employment plans, we hope to serve the Lord again and would never choose an assignment that would hurt the church we have loved these many years. Thank you.
Pastor Luke + Kristen MacDonald
And here is the resignation letter of Landon MacDonald.
To the Elders and people of Harvest Bible Chapel,
I have been at Harvest since I can remember. When I was a kid I treasured that my birth year and Harvest’s were the same. I always thought that something like that would be said at my funeral having served at Harvest my whole life. I started on the maintenance and security staff and served in plays and acting for Harvest Kids, the Worship team and then my favorite places – Harvest Students and Camp Harvest.
My time here has been wonderful and I have seen God work and move from small Senior trips with just a handful of students to arenas and the conference we just did for our students last weekend, which might be my favorite of any of them.
These past few months have been painful and heavy in ways I didn’t think possible, but through it all, my loving wife and the AWESOME people of Harvest have supported me. If it wasn’t for the Colossians 1:11 strength of God – I wouldn’t have made it this far. That said, my time at Harvest has come to a close. Its painful to say it and I never thought I would, but Bri and I have been in prayer for what seems like forever and God is leading us elsewhere. We don’t know where yet, but that is half the adventure.
This isn’t a spontaneous or emotional decision – it has become clear to us that we are not the best people to lead in this church moving forward. If desired, I am available by phone to answer any questions related to transition of responsibilities.
To the people of Harvest – your support and prayers kept us through until today -the sincerest thank you from my heart. Both to those who told me they were praying and those who just did it.
To the students of Harvest – leading and teaching you has been a dream come true. It never once felt like work, I always was stunned that I got paid to teach and lead you guys. To all students past and present, you and this ministry is the thing that I will miss the most.
I love Harvest and its people and I always will. Prayers are appreciated as Bri, Ezra, Violet, Julian and I move towards what’s next.
Rick Donald is on Leave
Rick Donald is also on leave. While he is on leave it came out that he liked a sexually explicit videotape that James MacDonald created. You can read more about that in, “James MacDonald’s Explicit Video Tape That Rick Donald Enjoyed. Plus Reflecting on the Time When Elgin Elder Stephen Stewart Advertised His Daughter’s Virginity in Christianity Today.”