Pastor of Suburban Mega-Church to Take Sabbatical Amid Controversies

MacDonald founded Harvest Bible Chapel more than 30 years ago

The pastor of a well-known suburban mega-church is taking an indefinite sabbatical amid a series of controversies that have rocked his congregation.

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

The church’s announcement about MacDonald’s sabbatical 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. “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.

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