A legal and financial review of Harvest Bible Chapel’s records has revealed that their founding and now former pastor James MacDonald was paid over $1 million annually, amid other instances of malfeasance.
Earlier this year, MacDonald was ousted from his leadership post at Harvest Bible Chapel, a church he founded over 30 years ago. His termination ultimately came about as a result of lewd comments he made on a hot mic that were aired on a local radio station amid controversy over allegations that he had presided over an abusive church culture and had mishandled church resources while living an opulent lifestyle.
The review looked at financial statements from January 2016 through mid-February of this year, according to The Daily Herald.
During that span of time, MacDonald’s spending included $170,851 on hunting and fishing trips; $139,502 on meals and entertainment; the installation of an internet service tower and security equipment at his house near the church’s campus in Elgin, Illinois, and over $94,000 for clothing and eyewear. The report revealed that the church maintained two private checking accounts that gave MacDonald $3.1 million during those three years and two months.
Forensic accountants were reportedly unable to tell in some cases how much MacDonald’s spending or spending done on his behalf could be linked to actual church operations because the expenditures were either not documented or there were no receipts.
MacDonald also gave away two motorcycles, each worth around $16,000.
“The report discusses $900,000 in spending on a private credit card account and $1 million in private checking accounts, which were overseen by MacDonald and several top church workers, not the church’s financial department,” the Daily Herald noted.
Tim Stoner, the church treasurer, noted that other expenses were also in question, particularly $22,000 paid for college tuition, an amount not listed in the report. Before 2016, $250,000 was spent on home improvements, he said. The church has now closed all private accounts, added a new finance committee, and reformed its internal processes.
In response to the report’s findings, MacDonald claimed in an Instagram post that the expenses in question were both “elder and auditor approved” and that they “predate the involvement of those now speaking.”
The elders now speaking are part of a new board that replaced the elders who resigned amid the fallout from the scandal. The former HBC pastor also maintained that “significant exculpatory information” was missing from the report because of a “moratorium” the elders instituted with respect to communicating with him.
Much of the contention surrounding the unscrupulous use of funds has…