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James MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel Reach Agreement

Ousted pastor and founder James MacDonald and Harvest Bible Chapel have reached an undisclosed agreement after months of arbitration involving MacDonald’s termination last year and the ownership of his former broadcast ministry, Walk in the Word, according to The Roys Report

An acknowledgement of the Aug. 14 settlement was found within court documents filed by MacDonald’s lawyer pertaining to a defamation suit pending against him, the blog said. 

Both parties agreed to a protective order that keeps the details of the settlement confidential, Roys reported. 

MacDonald was fired by the church in early 2019 after a recording of him making lewd comments on a hot mic aired on Chicago radio station WLS’ Erich “Mancow” Muller show. The church’s board of elders declared him “biblically unfit” for ministry, also citing his alleged use of church funds for personal expenses and bullying behavior. 

Harvest Bible Chapel has about 6,000 members who worship at six campuses in the Chicago area. 

MacDonald has filed a lawsuit against Muller and his employer, Cumulus Media, alleging that Muller called MacDonald a “con man” on the air and fabricated stories about him, per The Roys Report. He is asking for $50,000 in damages.  

In refusing to provide certain documents pertaining to the case to Muller’s legal team, MacDonald revealed he is unable to do so because of the protective order that is part of his arbitration agreement with Harvest. 

He also said he has been unable to find a job with another church “in whole or in part” because of Muller’s program, and has lost more than $2.5 million in potential salary and other compensation as a result. 

An audit of the church concluded in February 2020 showed that in 2018, the last year for which data was available, Harvest Bible Chapel paid MacDonald an annual salary of more than $1 million. 

In July, Ministry Watch reported that MacDonald was in danger of losing his home in Elgin, Ill., to foreclosure after he failed to pay his mortgage. MacDonald reportedly owed more than $947,000 to the Republic Bank of Chicago for the 5.5-bathroom, five-bedroom home that sits on 10 acres.

Anne Stych

Anne Stych is a writer in Charlotte, North Carolina.