'Mancow' Muller Speaks Out on Harvest Bible Church Controversy - NBC Chicago

'Mancow' Muller Speaks Out on Harvest Bible Church Controversy

MacDonald founded Harvest Bible Chapel more than 30 years ago

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Suburban Pastor Takes Sabbatical Amid Controversy

    Controversy is swirling around the pastor of a suburban mega-church, and he's taking a sabbatical for what he says can only be called a sin. NBC 5's Lexi Sutter has more. 

    (Published Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2019)

    Radio show host Mancow Muller is known for shaking things up--and is at least partially credited Wednesday for bringing down megachurch leader James MacDonald--Muller’s own former spiritual leader.

    MacDonald's three-decades-long reign has ended. The church says it took immediate action, but made the decision with great sadness and heavy hearts after alleged incriminating recordings were played on the radio show.

    Former member Ryan Mahoney is a former member and teacher at the Harvest Bible Chapel.

    "Just sensed something was wrong," he said. "I was outraged."

    Now he’s a whistleblower, with a blog, called Elephant's Debt, that started in 2009 looking into financial mismanagement culminating with a $40 million debt.

    Church elders fired MacDonald, saying in a statement to its 12,000 members: "Following a lengthy season of review, reflection, and prayerful discussion, the elders of harvest bible chapel had determined that pastor MacDonald should be removed from his role of senior pastor. That timeline accelerated, when on Tuesday morning highly inappropriate recorded comments made by pastor MacDonald were given to media and reported."

    Mahoney thinks the church now needs to be a better watchdog of its seven Chicago-area locations. 

    MacDonald, who founded Harvest Bible Chapel in suburban Rolling Meadows more than 30 years ago, made the announcement last month that he will step aside temporarily for what he says can only be called “a sin.”

    The church’s announcement about MacDonald’s sabbatical at the time did not include a specific reason for his absence, but said that his departure is part of a “peacemaking process” that is aimed at improving the church’s leadership structure, and reaching out to past and present members who have complaints about the pastor’s stewardship.

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    “I have carried great shame about this pattern in certain relationships that can only be called sin.” MacDonald said in a statement in January. “I am grieved that people I love have been hurt by me in ways they felt they could not express to me directly and have not been able to resolve.”

    According to the Daily Herald, former members of the church have accused MacDonald of “wielding too much power in church governance, of lashing out at people, of being paid what they see as too much, and of theological impropriety.”

    The church claims around 13,000 members at numerous locations, including sites in both Illinois and Florida.

    Lead pastor Landon MacDonald told NBC 5 in an email that they had no comment Wednesday night.

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