Harvest Bible Chapel Fairfax recently changed its name to Fairfax Bible Church. This post looks at the history of Fairfax Bible Church and informs potential attenders of the issues that are ongoing at Jeff Hoenshell’s church. As always remember caveat emptor. .
“Your reputation is in the hands of others. That’s what the reputation is. You can’t control that. The only thing you can control is your character.”
“He who worries about reputation, has a reputation to worry about.”
Teach me to do your will, for you are my God;
may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
Psalm 143:10 NIV
Harvest Bible Chapel now Fairfax Bible Church with Jeff Hoenshell is center stage.
In the 2011 time-frame Harvest wanted to break into the Washington, D.C. market. According to my research in this period of time Harvest Bible Fellowship determined church plants based off the numbers from Walk in the Word. If there was popularity with Walk in the Word in a geographic area that became a determining factor to do a church plant. There is also another consideration as well. Fairfax County is one of the wealthiest counties in the United States. Median income is $112,436 and technology and government drives employment. Fairfax County is also home to employers such as Volkswagen Group of America, SAIC, Capitol One, SRA International and more. Harvest in Chicago saw an opportunity and wanted to crack into the market. If Harvest could establish a church then it has the capability to make money and get a return on investment. After all for Harvest church planting is a business.
Daniel Buraga Plants Harvest Bible Chapel Fairfax in 2012
Daniel Buraga was the Senior Pastor who planted Harvest Bible Chapel Fairfax in January of 2012. Dan who is from India claimed he became a Christian at the age of 10. He attended Lancaster Bible College where he graduated in 1998. He then earned a MA in Masters and Evangelism from Wheaten in 2001. In addition to Buraga when Harvest was planted the leadership of the church consisted of Bob Brueuggen, John Cochran, Doug Carroll, Darrell Henricksen, Dan Millage and Rob Willey. Dan Buraga would only lead the church for a total of three years and eight months before he resigned in July of 2015. The Senior Pastor had allegations of abuse, control and other troubling behavior in his marriage that was also mishandled by Harvest as well. That part of the story you can read at Julie Roys blog here.
“Save the Church” and Jeff Hoenshell Becomes the Senior Pastor
With Buraga out of the picture the church plant was threatened. The call from Chicago was to “save the church.” But here was the problem, Harvest is based in the Midwest and has a presence there. It was not a dominant or well known network on the East Coast. Harvest didn’t have much in regards to candidates. It was in this situation that Jeff Hoenshell entered the picture. Jeff Hoenshell is from West Liberty, Ohio but he was studying at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary before he took over at Harvest Fairfax. Jeff’s connections to Harvest actually came from his parents who are members of Harvest Bible Chapel Lancaster. And Jeff who graduated from Moody in 2006 probably also attended a Harvest in Chicago. After Jeff was approached he went off to Chicago and was trained and became the senior pastor at Fairfax on March 20, 2016. Jeff publishes a blog you can read here.
Rebranding as Fairfax Bible Church
In the late spring or early summer of 2019 Jeff Hoenshell rebranded Harvest Bible Chapel Fairfax as Fairfax Bible Church. Fairfax Bible Church is still affiliated with The Great Commission Collective. The reason Harvest changed its name is no doubt due to the scandal of Harvest Bible Chapel. This blog has been covering the Harvest Bible Chapel scandal in Chicago. In the scandal this blog has published the leaked Dean Butters letter. You can read that in, “The Wondering Eagle Exclusive: Dean Butters Statement” and “Why Publish the Dean Butters Statement in Its Entirety?” Some of the scandals involving James MacDonald in Chicago have been exceptionally dark. For example there was the audiotape of James MacDonald who allegedly wanted to plant child pornography on the CEO of Christianity Today’s computer. You can read that in , ” Mancow Muller Produces an Audiotape of James MacDonald Allegedly Wanting to Plant Child Pornography on a “Critic’s” Computer. Harvest Bible Chapel Elder Board Promptly Fires Him” and “The Allegation of Child Pornography and James MacDonald. Also a Question for Garrett Higbee.” In addition there was the information about how James MacDonald allegedly took personal pleasure in the killing of animals for fun, that can be read in, “Does James MacDonald Take Personal Pleasure in Killing Animals?” Plus you also had the allegations that James MacDonald allegedly wanted to hire a hit man and have someone murdered. You can read the Wilmette Police Report for that claim in, “The Wilmette, Illinois Police Redacted Report Involving Mancow Muller Concerning James MacDonald Allegedly Wanting to Hire a Hitman to Have Someone Murdered.” All of those scandals and more have led a number of churches in the Great Commission Collective to change their church from Harvest to another name. The Harvest brand name is damaged. This blog is actually working on another post about how many Great Commission Collective churches have changed their name. So Fairfax Bible Church is part of that trend.
Was Harvest Influenced by the Implosion of C.J. Mahaney’s Sovereign Grace Ministries and Saw an Opportunity in the D.C. Market?
As I was researching and putting this post together there was one nagging issue that bothered me, and that concern is the following. The timing of the launch of Harvest Bible Chapel Fairfax in 2012 stands out. This blog would like to introduce a question to be discussed by the Harvest survivor community. Did Harvest Bible Fellowship see an opportunity in the implosion of C.J. Mahaney’s Sovereign Grace Ministries? Sovereign Grace, which was once considered the model for church by Wayne Grudem at its peak had over 100 churches in the United States and was spread out among 26 countries. In 2011 C.J. Mahaney’s empire came crashing down in an ugly scandal revealing his blackmail, corruption and deeply disturbing allegations of child sex abuse and domestic abuse. Sovereign Grace, which used to be headquartered out of Covenant Life Church in Gaithersburg, Maryland was a major player in the Washington, D.C. area. With its empire falling in 2011 did Harvest Bible Fellowship see an opportunity to break into a market that was dominated by Sovereign Grace? You can read more about the collapse of Sovereign Grace in the following Washingtonian article here.
Concerns this Blog has with Fairfax Bible Church
This blog has a number of concerns with Fairfax Bible Church or formerly Harvest Bible Chapel Fairfax. I visited and once wrote about it in, “An Experience with Harvest Bible Chapel Fairfax. Plus how is James MacDonald Viewed by the Great Commission Collective?” In studying the Fairfax Bible Church website there are a couple of red flags. For example after the allegations of abuse concerning Daniel Buraga why are his sermons still online and being pushed by Fairfax Bible Church? As of September of 2019 this blog counted at least 20 sermons from Dan Buraga still posted. Its not as if Buraga retired and rode of into the sunset having done well. The allegations of abuse are deeply troubling . But there is another aspect that concerns me as well. In poking around the sermon archive I noticed that Harvest Bible Chapel Fairfax brought in Vince Hinders to teach in June of 2013. Vince Hinders was part of the Sovereign Grace lawsuit in regards to Sovereign Grace Fairfax. Why would a church put a defendant in regards to sexual abuse cover-up in the pulpit ? You can read more about Vince Hinders in, “Vince Hinders Post to the Facebook College and Career Group at Redeeming Grace Church Fairfax and the Hypocrisy of the Alleged Child Sex Abuse Coverup that Occurred” and the problems of Sovereign Grace Fairfax in, “Sinfully Craving a New Church Name? Sovereign Grace Fairfax Becomes Redeeming Grace Church” For me it raises questions about if Fairfax Bible Church is safe for females and children and if they understand these issues? Fairfax Bible Church’s history is bogged down in questionable issues. That leaves this blog very concerned about the health of this former Harvest Bible Chapel franchise. For those Googling Fairfax Bible Church consider yourself warned.