James MacDonald’s HBC’s All Church Email: $270,000 Embezzlement and Possibly 3 Students Who Were Sexually Exploited

Your concerns about buying a biker jacket are a perfect example. You like biker jackets. You want a biker jacket. You have (I’m assuming) the means to purchase one. And yet – you doubt yourself. Do not doubt yourself, B. Life is made for making oneself happy, not castigating one’s personal taste. Will some of your male colleagues raise their eyebrows at your new jacket? Will some of them make jokes about a “midlife crisis”? Probably ….Hadley Freeman “Will buying a leather jacket make it look like I’m having a midlife crisis?”

Rebel without a cause James Dean Wikipedia
James Dean: Rebel without a Cause

Calling all numbers people: #1 could prove interesting.

I was given the following *all church* email which was allegedly sent from the HBC leaders: Pastors James and Pastor Rick and Lead Pastors; Trei Tatum, Luke MacDonald, Jeff Donaldson, Mohan Zachariah, and Landon MacDonald.

Since I do not want to change the format of the letter, let me outline the specific issues addressed.

  1. Money was allegedly embezzled from the church. After the email, I’ve attached the alleged police report. That email identifies a Jeffrey Parkham,(ed: I wrote the wrong name initially) HBC’s Chief Information Officer, as the alleged thief who allegedly admitted to stealing approximately $270,000. (Sorry for all the alleged but lawyers really like that word.) Now, the church alleges that the $270,000 is less than 1% of the churches budget. So, it might appear that they are implying that it is no big deal, given how much the church takes in annually. I’ll leave it to all you numbers people to figure out how much they are implying as the annual take. Then, you all might could (a good Southern term) compare that number with the income from previous years and figure out just how much giving has declined. Why? Well isn’t that the basis for that no good, very bad, lawsuit against TED/Roys?
  2. In regards to the youth pastor who was just arrested, some believed that it involved one child. However, this email seems to imply that there are three affected families. If so, that means the church or law enforcement believe that 3 students in the ministry were sexually exploited. In my last post, dealing with the arrest of the youth pastor, I expressed my concern that there might be more students involved since predators have usually molested/exploited many times prior to their first arrest. It seems that I may be right in this instance. I am begging the church leaders to seek out any students who attended any programs involving former youth pastor, Paxton Singer. Often students bring friends along to events. The long term harm for students/kids that are sexually exploited is well documented. Please, please -parents, members, leaders, etc.- seek out anyone else who may have had contact with this individual. Their well being is at stake. Your church hired him. Now your church should help to find other potential victims.
  3. It is interesting that the email seems to juxtaposition the *schemes of the devil* with the lawsuit the church is bringing against some decent people. Now, maybe I’m misinterpreting this, but it is so tiring to have people who sue other people appear to call their opponent in a lawsuit *Satan* while implying that their lawsuit is on the side of the angels. At TWW we sometimes refer to him as *Stan.* I am urging James MacDonald to drop this lawsuit and seek to role model how to turn the other cheek. Such humility is only noticed in situation when one feels wronged. Forgive them and get on with building a church which supposedly has a pillar of unconditional love.
  4. Finally, what does it matter that the person who did the embezzling wasn’t part of the pastoral staff? He was in a leadership position and all leaders should be above reproach, right? You guys hired him.

Alleged ALL-CHURCH EMAIL

October 23, 2018
Dear Church Family:
The mission given to us by Jesus Christ is so wonderful, isn’t it?  We get to tell the world the good news that Christ is risen, sins are forgiven, and joy is available to all who trust Him in everything. Good News.

Maybe that is why it’s so hard to give difficult news. Nevertheless, we have a responsibility to be transparent with our congregation in order to keep trust high.

Last week, we discovered evidence that a non-ministry member of our staff who worked in operations defrauded the church of an amount of money. If the evidence proves true, this would lead to a criminal charge being filed, and a preliminary report was filed today with the Elgin police department. The amount of money in question appears to be less than 1% of our annual budget and the time period appears to be less than a year. This person has never led any public ministry in our church and is on leave pending the completion of this investigation. We are looking to lay leaders and outside expertise who will work with our insurance on maximum recovery of funds. A full report will come to the congregation as soon as the investigation is complete and the facts are fully known.

I am also sorry to report that a youth director who served with us a few short months was involuntarily released last January when illegal and disqualifying behavior came to light. The three affected families, as well as parents of students on those campuses, as well as DCFS were notified immediately. Find here the statement issued to the press and their article here. The June call they reference was a follow up from Craig Steiner, our Aurora Campus Pastor. That call seems to have provoked what the initial January reports did not. All of this is documented.

Please also be in prayer about the lawsuit filed to protect our church from lies that seek to discredit our ministry. For example, in the matter mentioned above, we have had to resist extensive efforts to distort the truth about a matter our church handled with integrity toward all parties involved. You can read more about the legal protection we are seeking in the October Elder Update, including our biblical rationale and how we came to this decision.
You may direct any questions in these matters to our Elders in writing at elders@harvestbiblechapel.org.

We should not be surprised when the enemy is attacking and agitating, “as though something strange were happening to [us]” (1 Peter 4:12). We are involved in a battle of intense fury, where the enemy is scheming to knock us down. May we redouble our efforts to keep the Good News central and our Vertical focus strong.

Please pray and “Be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.  Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil” (Ephesians 6:10-11).

God is good, and we can trust Him.

Pastor James and Pastor Rick

Lead Pastors Trei Tatum, Luke MacDonald, Jeff Donaldson, Mohan Zachariah, and Landon MacDonald


Alleged police report on the embezzlement of funds.

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Comments

James MacDonald’s HBC’s All Church Email: $270,000 Embezzlement and Possibly 3 Students Who Were Sexually Exploited — 136 Comments

  1. james,

    The report identifies a Jeffrey Parkham, but this is an error by the police, because it’s Jeffrey Parkham. He was the Chief Information Officer at HBC.

    Trei Tatum is the Executive Pastor for Stewardship & Operations.

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  2. It’s actually Jeffrey Parham. << note spelling

    I found his cached web page for Harvest Bible Chapel and have sent it on to Dee.

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  3. “the enemy is scheming to knock us down” (HBC letter to members)

    Here we go again … another ministry blaming things on the devil. That which comes against the church falls in one of three categories: the world, the flesh, and the devil. The world and the flesh are doing such a good job in the 21st century church – the enemy doesn’t have to get involved.

    “… priests instruct for a price, and her prophets divine for money … yet they lean on the Lord saying, ‘Is not the Lord in our midst’ …” (Micah 3:11)

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  4. From the All-Church email: “We should not be surprised when the enemy is attacking and agitating, ‘as though something strange were happening to [us]’ (1 Peter 4:12).”

    But a few verses down in I Peter: “If you suffer, it should not be as a murderer or thief or any other kind of criminal, or even as a meddler.” When you actually have misconduct in your church the suffering of your reputation is not because of the name of Christ but for being a criminal. The letter itself admits to crimes within the church body, those crimes are deserving of scorn, as is the domineering behavior.

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  5. My kid went to High5 Summer camp at Harvest during the time Paxton was allegedly sexually exploiting children.

    I have not received a single communication regarding this outside of media reports.

    These Men need to be publically rebuked on the largest possible stage and punished as the world sees fits

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  6. james,
    You are correct. I mixed up the first and last names of two folks. I did have to use the name from the police report but I’m grateful for the info that others are supplying.

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  7. james:
    Wonder where Jeff Parkham “learned” how to deceive?

    But your honor…Everyone was doing it..

    That exact line was used on me some 30+ years ago by a sexual predator trying to get into MY pants. (He failed.)

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  8. drstevej,

    Again, the church is using language that minimizes crimes. An email that was sent to parents calls Mr. SInger’s acts “bad news that might bring some sadness”. What???

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  9. james,

    By contrast, several weeks ago I received an email from a YMCA camp my son attended only this summer because a former counselor from ten+ years ago was indicated on child porn charges. The email was EXEMPLARY in how it spoke to parents, how seriously the YMCA was taken having employed this person, etc.

    Sad times we live in when the world does it better than the church.

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  10. Max: “the enemy is scheming to knock us down” (HBC letter to members)

    Then why isn’t the enemy being named in the lawsuit? TED, Roys and “Stan”.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  11. It’s not about 1% of the budget, it’s about how much of bottom line (equivalent of profit of corporate). Like molesters, embezzlers typically have been doing it for a while before they get caught.

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  12. My son had P. Singer as a cabin counselor for an entire week at Camp Harvestin Michigan. We never received any communication of his dismissal or sexploitation in Jan 2018 or after police report filed. We have done our part and questioned our son as sensitively and directly and feel confident he was not at risk, but also to see if he saw or heard anything from other students.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  13. The HBC letter to members could have been shortened:

    “Hey folks, just wanted you to know that one of our staff embezzled lots of your hard-earned tithes and another staffer abused some of your children. In the meantime we have been busy suing the pants off Christian bloggers who have expressed concerns about our ministry, as well our Christian lender who for some reason doesn’t want to help us financially any longer. See you next Sunday!”

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  14. __

    Drained&Rearanged: “Mixed 501c3 Bag, Perhaps?”

    hmmm…

    “We are involved in a battle of ‘intense fury’ ™ , where the ‘enemy’© is scheming to knock us down. May we redouble our efforts to keep the Good News central and our Vertical focus strong…” -James Macdonald

    huh?

    Deflected discontent?

    What?

    “We have found the enemy, and he is us…” -Salvatore

    ;~)

    – –
    – Intermission:
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=zeOHrFNMX3Y

    -=-

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  15. Ugh. Adulation for Albert: Russell Moore gushes his SBTS wish…the Mohler Memorial Chapel.

    https://baptistnews.com/article/al-mohler-chapel-former-colleague-suggests-renaming-southern-seminary-landmark

    “Al Mohler is her greatest president…He really was — even as we have an alma mater, a mother — we had in him an alma pater, we had a father.”

    “I would really want to name that chapel after him…It’s called Alumni Chapel right now, but so many of the defining-the-vision moments that have happened over the past 25 years all happened there.”

    He goes on and on:

    “he preserved [Southern Seminary] in her time of greatest crisis”

    “What we needed was a deep grounding in the truths of Scripture.”

    “the kind of supernaturalism that is necessary for Christianity to go forward.”

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  16. Max: The HBC letter to members could have been shortened:

    “Hey folks, just wanted you to know that one of our staff embezzled lots of your hard-earned tithes and another staffer abused some of your children. In the meantime we have been busy suing the pants off Christian bloggers who have expressed concerns about our ministry, as well our Christian lender who for some reason doesn’t want to help us financially any longer. See you next Sunday!”

    Is that the ‘good news’ or the ‘bad news’?

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  17. So, HBC leaders go to the police when someone steals money from the church, but when their youth pastor molests youth, they don’t go to the police …….

    It’s blatantly obvious where HBC leaders’ priorities lie.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  18. Ex Harvest,

    You can also go online and get top three salaries paid by YMCA as they are required to complete form 990 (unlike churches). If I recall correctly, James said he “would rather lose 1000 attendees than disclose his salary (s).”

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  19. To the police they say that they discovered that the named individual allegedly (putting this in for the benefit of the members of the lawyering community) embezzled money from the church on Oct 23, and that this had been going on since at least July 2017 – or even earlier. To me that seems to be a period of at least 15 months.

    Yet to the church they say “less than a year”.

    They seem to find honesty really difficult, even where it should be easy.

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  20. Ex Harvest: The email was EXEMPLARY in how it spoke to parents, how seriously the YMCA was taken having employed this person, etc.

    Sad times we live in when the world does it better than the church

    Isn’t the YMCA the “young men’s Christian Association” ?
    Never quite understand this church/world comparison that keeps popping up here.

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  21. “I am also sorry to report that a youth director who served with us a few short months”

    February (non-leap year), then April and June? Sorry, the chosen tone of “a few short months” is as irking as the opener…

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  22. Jack: Never quite understand this church/world comparison that keeps popping up here.

    Non-Christian culture / persons usually handle sexual abuse (not always, but usually) better than Christians do, which a lot of people find ironic or distressing, especially, seeing as how a lot of Christians run around saying they have way better morals than the “un-saved” (Non-Christians).

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  23. Regarding:

    Then, you all might could (a good Southern term) compare that number with the income from previous years and figure out just how much giving has declined.

    I’d like to see you start prefacing some of your comments with the phrase “I’m fixin’ to,” if we’re going to go fully southern here.

    For instance, instead of writing,
    “I’m preparing to write a new blog post later this week,” you would instead type,
    “I’m fixing to type a new blog post later this week.”

    No more, “I’m going grocery shopping,” but,
    “I’m fixin’ to go to the Piggly Wiggly to get me some RC-Cola with some Moon Pies.”

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  24. Jerome (quoting someone fawning over someone else): “What we needed was a deep grounding in the truths of Scripture.”

    They could have got that from reading the bible. Maybe what they really wanted was a king like all the other nations. Or a CEO like all the big, rich, powerful corporations.

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  25. Nancy2(aka Kevlar):
    So, HBC leaders go to the police when someone steals money from the church, but when their youth pastor molests youth, they don’t go to the police …….

    It’s blatantly obvious where HBC leaders’ priorities lie.

    Excellent observation! I think it was some Jewish Carpenter that once said something about “Where your treasure is, there will be your heart also.”

    Their actions are drowning out what they want people to hear!

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  26. Gus:
    To the police they say that they discovered that the named individual allegedly (putting this in for the benefit of the members of the lawyering community) embezzled money from the church on Oct 23, and that this had been going on since at least July 2017 – or even earlier. To me that seems to be a period of at least 15 months.

    Yet to the church they say “less than a year”.

    They seem to find honesty really difficult, even where it should be easy.

    They seem to have a very very difficult time with the truth. Their all-church email also states that the amount embezzled appears to be less than 1% of the annual budget. By looking at their “GIVE” section on the website under “financial integrity” (do I need an additional set of quote marks here?), you see that for October, monthly “need” was $2,040,000 and year to date “need” is $21,930,000. By dividing and/or multiplying either of these numbers out for an annual “need”, the number is either $24,480,000(2040000×12) or $26,316,000 ((21930000/10)*12)). Either way, the $270,000 in the police report is more than 1%.
    They have spun the facts of both the embezzlement and the sexual exploitation to minimize.
    It is also interesting that they made a big deal in the lawsuit that the Elephants Debt reported $70 million of debt when it was actually ONLY $66 million. I guess rounding is only acceptable when they are Minimizi g damages and feeding it to their sheep.

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  27. Jerome:
    Ugh. Adulation for Albert: Russell Moore gushes his SBTS wish…the Mohler Memorial Chapel.

    https://baptistnews.com/article/al-mohler-chapel-former-colleague-suggests-renaming-southern-seminary-landmark

    “Al Mohler is her greatest president…He really was —even as we have an alma mater, a mother — we had in him an alma pater, we had a father.”

    “I would really want to name that chapel after him…It’s called Alumni Chapel right now, but so many of the defining-the-vision moments that have happened over the past 25 years all happened there.”

    He goes on and on:

    “he preserved [Southern Seminary] in her time of greatest crisis”

    “What we needed was a deep grounding in the truths of Scripture.”

    “the kind of supernaturalism that is necessary for Christianity to go forward.”

    Maybe Mohler can get his own stained-glass window, too!

    “…in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.”
    Matthew 15:9

    I’m going to go out on a limb here, but I don’t think the Lord is real crazy about the hero worship going on in the SBC!

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  28. Root 66: “What we needed was a deep grounding in the truths of Scripture” (Baptist News article)

    Which is to claim, of course, that millions of Southern Baptists were not grounded in the truths of Scripture for the last 150 years! The level of arrogance among the New Calvinists continues to amaze me.

    “the kind of supernaturalism that is necessary for Christianity to go forward”

    Yes, Calvin and Mohler have been supernatural beings … but of what spirit? Excuse me, Christianity has been going forward for the last 2,000 years … 90+% of Christianity over the last 500 years rejected the tenets of reformed theology. Mohler is but a blip on the eternal radar of the people of God who have sacrificed, suffered, and surrendered to God to preserve the precious Gospel of Christ … whosoever will may come.

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  29. Root 66: Maybe Mohler can get his own stained-glass window, too!

    He will get one at SWBTS when one of his minions takes over the presidency there. They will take down the windows of all the “Conservative Resurgence” warriors and replace them with heroes of the “Calvinist Resurgence.” Dr. Mohler’s image will be on grand display … if he has the largest stack of books in Christendom, he will surely get the largest window.

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  30. Max,

    And one need not go very far out on a limb to suggest that there is always at least a 50% chance any teacher is a false teacher; add in great personal wealth and celebrity and I’m guessing that number inches up a bit.

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  31. TS00,

    My son had this youth leader as a camp counselor for an entire week at camp Harvest. As a parent we never received any notice of any wrongdoing at any point in time to this date period after the lawsuit and the police report we did question our 14 year old. We have been satisfied that our son did not experience any wrongdoing or did not Witness or have friends tell him anything regarding this youth pastor. But still are completely dumbfounded that nothing was said to us by the Aurora pastor or Landon or HR director

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  32. Members of the public may send information that raises questions about an exempt organization’s compliance with the Internal Revenue Code to IRS – EO Referrals, 1100 Commerce Street, MC 4910 DAL, Dallas, TX 75242. They may use Form 13909, Tax-Exempt Organization Complaint (Referral) Form, for this purpose.

    In addition to oversight by the IRS, tax-exempt organizations are subject to oversight by State charity regulators and State tax agencies. You may also want to send a copy of the referral you send to us to your state charity regulator and/or state tax agency.

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  33. Daisy: Non-Christian culture / persons usually handle sexual abuse (not always, but usually) better than Christians do, which a lot of people find ironic or distressing, especially, seeing as how a lot of Christians run around saying they have way better morals than the “un-saved” (Non-Christians).

    But what’s non Christian culture? Most Americans identify as Christian, this includes police, prosecutors & judges. Part of the problem becomes glaringly obvious when an organization with Christian in its title is now tossed in the “unbeliever” bucket.
    There’s no separation between world and church. A church is part of this reality, whether it wants to be or not.

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  34. Jack: But what’s non Christian culture? Most Americans identify as Christian … There’s no separation between world and church.

    I was young and now am old. I’m ancient enough to remember when the church was counter-culture to the world; it is now a sub-culture of it … in the world and of the world in many places.

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  35. Max: I was young and now am old. I’m ancient enough to remember when the church was counter-culture to the world; it is now a sub-culture of it … in the world and of the world in many places.

    At my wife’s church I’ve heard the pastor wax nostalgic about when in Canada people knew what their neighbors were. He’s not a young guy. He’s it was a time when most people went to church, there were Catholics & protestant & not much else. All the “unmentionable” stuff was properly in its place.
    In my neck of the woods the vast majority were Christian.
    My Dad was a lifelong attender. Was involved in vestry (Anglican church board), organized church events, very involved.
    When he retired he couldn’t get out fast enough. Still prayed, still believed but not in a church.
    He told me he didn’t like it for years. But felt it was just a done thing. He was trapped in a community obligation. Why did he stop? It was the 90’s. It was ok to not go anymore. In wider community, no one was bothered, in fact he even was asked to run for mayor.
    There’s absolutely no difference between church & world. Our society is changing but the same problems are endemic to all human organizations. We just talk about it more, and churches should too.

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  36. TJ exharvedt attender,

    There’s 1000s of people in the same situation me being one of them. Most troubling, many may not know. High Five, as example, is a campus based summer camp program that hosts kids from many other churches.

    Harvest should be forced to communicate to all !!!

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  37. james,

    Agreed. I have many friends who still attend. But I will not gossip. I will encourage them to educate themselves and direct them to websites if they ask me. Still very disheartening leadership has been in my eyes very elusive and deceptive by exclusion

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  38. James—Agreed. I have many friends who still attend. But I will not gossip. I will encourage them to educate themselves and direct them to websites if they ask me. Still very disheartening leadership has been in my eyes very elusive and deceptive by exclusion

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  39. Daily lectionary today—pertinent:

    For the land is full of adulterers;
 the land mourns because of the curse,

    and the grazing lands in the wilderness have dried up.

    Their way of life has become evil,

    and their power is not rightly used

    because both prophet and priest are ungodly,

    even in my house I have found their evil.
    This is the Lord’s declaration.

    (Jeremiah 23:10–11 CSB)

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  40. Max,

    Jack: There’s absolutely no difference between church & world.

    The Baby Boomer generation will be the last to remember when there was.
    ++++++++++++++++

    but was there? what difference(s) do you remember seeing?

    how possible is it that it came down to cultural style? (language, demeanor, etc)

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  41. Max: The Baby Boomer generation will be the last to remember when there was.

    Normally I’m in agreeance with you but in this case, I see it as a golden age that never was. We’ve inherited a world that boomers brought forth.

    This is not a bad thing. There’s a lot of uncomfortable conversations happening but this means an opportunity to shine light in very dark corners.

    If I was still Christian I couldn’t imagine anything more … Well…christian.

    Jesus wasn’t too shy about walking in the shadows. If anything his ministry was about engaging the world. Especially its nasty bits.

    There are churches that aren’t like the harvest happy chappies. And there are lots of christians of all flavors fighting the good fight.

    Don’t worry Max. Paul wandered an empire without a private plane or tour bus or massive entourage. Look how that turned out.

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  42. TJ exharvedt attender,

    Dear TJ,

    I implore you and other parents’ to join the strength of your voice and call HBC collective to account for their inaction and obscuring of the crime of which they were aware. There silence is outrageous.

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  43. You have to love Landon’s letter to the parents to notify them of a sexual predator. It starts off like he’s inviting them to a backyard BBQ….”Hey Harvest Rolling Meadows Parents”…

    and continues the train wreck with “some bad news that might bring some sadness”. First it is the backyard BBQ invite then “might” bring some sadness because someone forgot to bring the buns.

    BTW no reference to calling the police. I think the people getting the lawsuit might be the ones onto the story and no, I wouldn’t loan money to this sham either. Folks, this is a sinking ship with all the debt and lawsuits are not going to stop it. James is desperate to shut people up to keep his business running.

    Honesty, Landon was the reason I finally left Harvest, not The Elephants Debt. Week after week, I started to put together that this is a family business and James is positioning his sons to take it over. If this was such a great church, endless applications of very qualified pastors would be lined up in the parking lot. No, actually James chases them off (Dr. Stowell). He brings his kids onto the scene to pass the business.

    From: Landon MacDonald Date: January 7, 2018 at 9:26:18 PM CST Subject: I am sorry to report some bad news

    Hey Harvest Rolling Meadows Parents,

    I am writing to you tonight to tell you to some bad news that might bring some sadness.
    Paxton Singer has been released from his position today as a director of Students at our campus. We found out this morning that Paxton had a compulsive, repetitive and addictive text relationship with a student from another campus. The exchange was verbally inappropriate and broke the boundaries of a pastor/student relationship that is above reproach.
    It has deeply saddened us and we have informed our students as well as leaders tonight.
    Paxton will be attending the Aurora Campus for the time being where his family attends and he will be given pastoral care on that campus and we are committed to him and to helping him move forward.
    Let this be a reminder to all of us what the Lord says in his word – “Sin is crouching at the door.”
    Feel free to respond or approach me at Church this weekend with any questions. I will be at Rolling Meadows on Saturday Night and preaching in Aurora on Sunday morning.
    Praying and believing for bright and better days ahead, Pastor Landon

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  44. Back to the police’s case report on the alleged theft of $270,000 by Jeff Parham…

    I’m puzzled by the decision to Mr. Parham on leave if he confessed to the theft in front of witnesses. Why not fire him for cause? Firing him doesn’t affect the ability to prosecute him, correct?

    Seems like HBC is still trying to control this situation in some way–to hide something whilst giving the appearance of handing it rightly.

    Thoughts?

    Thoughts?

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  45. I am occasionally moved to ponder the “average differences” (for want of a better phrase) between Britain, over time, and America, also over time.

    The reason there’s value in this is that the notion of separation of church and state (though those are not the exact words of the First Amendment) is explicit in American history. Not only that, but it was established in a context, not just because some random person somewhere thought it sounded nice. At least a part of that context was the history of tyranny arising when state power and religion got into bed together, that had plagued Europe for centuries.

    So, in Britain there is a state church (the Church of England, though it’s not the only show in town) and in the US there isn’t. But it’s not as simple as that. Arguably, religion actually has more political power in America than in Britain. Certainly, come the next General Election in Blighty, there won’t be all that much said about the christian vote.

    Archetypal wolf-in-christian-clothing Marq Driskle visited Scotland a few years ago and claimed that the lack of any famous young preacher was a great weakness of the UK church. Obviously, anything Driskle claims is bad, is almost certainly good, and this is no exception. The Gospel™ as a money-spinning brand has never quite taken root here. That is, you certainly do see “churches” that are pyramid schemes set up by would-be gurus, but they’re nearly always taking their cue from their super-rich counterparts in the States. Very few religious marketing innovations have come from the UK, that I know of.

    Hmm. I’ve kind of half written two points, and neither of them well there. But I can’t write any more the noo as we’re going climbing. I might see if I can progress the insane dyno on the new yellow on Route 20.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  46. elastigirl:
    Max,

    Jack: There’s absolutely no difference between church & world.

    The Baby Boomer generation will be the last to remember when there was.
    ++++++++++++++++

    but was there?what difference(s) do you remember seeing?

    how possible is it that it came down to cultural style?(language, demeanor, etc)

    Having just finished reading all of Trollope’s ecclesiastical (Barchester) novels, I am of the opinion that “church” and “world” have been muddled together for a while now.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  47. Ex Harvest,

    Definitely something fishy in all this. Wrong name . . . wrong race . . . numbers don’t add up . . . put on leave rather than fired . . . when multiple inaccuracies, contradictions or oddities are involved, the intelligent person is left wondering just what’s up. Real events can usually be documented by real evidence of alleged timelines. This is not rocket science; our every move is pretty much traceable. How about we see phone logs, email correspondence or other real evidence of things along with the dates when they were alleged to have happened. And official police documents should be without demonstrable errors. The socalled announcement of the youth pastor’s ‘crimes’ did not even come close to acknowledging their sexual and predatory nature, let alone the fact that there were multiple victims. This church has a problem with accuracy, to say the least. Sure wouldn’t want them to be in charge of properly disbursing my money.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  48. View from the Pew,

    I concur! Here are a few thoughts of my own:

    Where do I start?

    “Hey….”
    >Hey? This is the salutation deemed appropriate given the weight of what is about to be addressed? A shout-out?

    “…bad news”
    >Uh, bad news is discovering a much anticipated event is being cancelled; bad news is being told someone is unexpectedly resigning due to their happy news such as a better job offer. This is far, far, more than bad news. Try “crushing” news. Try “devastating” news. Try “gutting” news. Try “gut-wrenching for all us in leadership” news.

    “that might” – might?

    “bring some” – some?

    “sadness…”
    >Sadness?! – could the crushing truth have been any more diminished…couched…this-close to negated?

    “The exchange was verbally inappropriate and broke the boundaries of a pastor/student relationship that is above reproach.”
    >No, the exchange OBLITERATED any and all boundaries of an ADULT MALE/MINOR (let alone, pastor/student) relationship…PERIOD.

    “Paxton will be attending the Aurora Campus for the time being where his family attends and he will be given pastoral care on that campus and we are committed to him and to helping him move forward.”
    >God have mercy. They brought him right back into the fold–back in the brick-and-mortar physical confines where children–teenagers–youth which he had led would see him. They set out to walk with him and to move him forward. This man who had solicited nude photos from a teenage boy; who had attempted to get the boy to spend the night with him.

    Gah.

    “Let this be a reminder…”
    >Yeah, thanks for that obligatory scripture reference which now puts the reader, the parent, the church member, the youth group participant, THE VICTIM! under the microscope rather than the Youth Pastor who WAS crouching in their midst.

    Such deeply troubling disconnect by the person and governing authority authoring this announcement.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  49. Daisy: People / organizations that do not identify as Christian.

    OK. But what is Christian? There is no “Christianity”, there are multiple Christianities, each one claiming that the others are not christian.

    In one of the bigger rifts, there are protestants who consider the Roman Catholic church non-christian and there are Roman Catholics who consider all the other churches false.

    The problem as I see it is not the church and world being separate so much as some groups putting their adherents behind theological barbed wire with everyone else on the other side.

    At best this is simply an agreement to disagree (you’re a heretic but I love you anyway). At it’s worst, it becomes slavish sycophancy. There is no world only church. Before you know it, getting a foot rub from the pastor and defending a child abuser becomes as normal as paying your taxes (or in the church’s case, not paying taxes).

    This is why Driscoll finds followers, Harvest church can find followers and there are those who’ll defend the indefensible in the RC church and others who back the abusers.

    For what it’s worth, it’s a mess that is not unique to christianity (whichever one you follow) but we’re dissecting christian trends.

    Reading about Happy Harvest here, I actually see more in common with Enron than religion. The main belief seems to be “smartest man in the room” theology.

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  50. ION: Sport

    A home win over Fulham put us temporarily top of the league, at least for a couple of hours until City won the Manchester derby to go two points clear again.

    In the ATP Tour finals in that London, Kevin Anderson beat Dominic Thiem this afternoon; Roger plays Kei Nishikori in half an hour or so.

    A ton of other sport happened today, some of it very important in sporting terms.

    IHTIH

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  51. __

    “Devotion To The God Of Wonders?

    hmmm…

    Catholic Gate-Crasher: Having just finished reading all of Trollope’s ecclesiastical (Barchester) novels, I am of the opinion that “church” and “world” have been muddled together for a while now.

    *

    IMHO The comparison should really be made between the church, the world, and faith in Jesus Christ. The world is self-explanatory, for the most part, the 501c3 church has become a self-serving corporate entity. Faith in Jesus Christ however requires a sincere independent commitment to the one who made you.

    Make it today.

    You’ll be glad you did.

    (Sēē your bible for details)

    *

    Devoted to the God of wonders…

    ATB

    Sòpy

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=seSl-h6WMD8

    ;~)

    – –

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  52. Jack,

    “But what is Christian?”
    +++++++++++++

    people who look, act, and think like “me”

    kind of like driving a car.

    everyone who drives faster than “me” is careless and irresponsible. everyone who drives slower than “me” is confused and unaware. the only sane and decent drivers are those driving just like “me”.

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  53. INFORMATION NEEDED:

    I recently received some information that about 6-7 youth pastors out of 9-10 have resigned in the last 1-2 years. Is this true?

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  54. dee,

    Not sure. They’ve resigned or they’ve simply left (or been let go)? Big difference. There are some who transitioned to other positions in HBC.

    Also, HBC has mulitple campuses and it’s not usual for there to be some degree of turnover in youth ministry leaders, as young me and women grow up, find other opportunities, etc.

    I’m not tying to give HBC a pass here—just asking for more context, perhaps.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  55. SCOTT SEABOLT HIRED BY HARVEST PER THE POLICE REPORT THAT IS THE SUBJECT OF THIS POST

    Read the interesting position stated by Harvest’s handpicked attorney for the embezzlement case.

    Turns out he is AGAINST!!! making volunteer coaches maditory reporters of sex abuse.

    Turns out his is AGAINST!!! extending statutes of limitations on sexual predators because it would put Non for Profits at “risk”

    One of those people was Scott Seabolt, a member of the Board of Directors of the Detroit Police Athletic League.

    While he said he supports efforts to protect the victims of sexual misconduct and child abuse, making coaches mandatory reporters would have a “chilling effect” on potential volunteers by placing them at an increased risk of liability.

    Seabolt also said extending the statute of limitations for a period of 30 to 40 years would expose non-profits to civil liability.

    “It’s almost counterintuitive to create a law that specifically targets volunteers and places them at an increased risk of liability by virtue of their volunteerism,” Seabolt said.

    “Moreover, by specifically targeting volunteers involved in scholastic and recreational activities, the proposed language creates a disincentive for volunteers to support organizations like Detroit PAL.”

    Surprise Surprise…

    https://www.wlns.com/news/expert-weighs-in-on-house-changes-to-nassar-inspired-bills/1210865072

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  56. TJ exharvest attender:
    James—Agreed. I have many friends who still attend. But I will not gossip. I will encourage them to educate themselves and direct them to websites if they ask me. Still very disheartening leadership has been in my eyes very elusive and deceptive by exclusion

    I’m curious what you mean by gossip? Would it be gossip to tell people that the youth director molested kids? Not sure if I’m following you.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  57. Regarding “Gossip”

    I spoke with uniformed police at a pancake house Today. They did’nt view the 30 minute conversation detailing everything discussed here as gossip. In fact, the veteran swat team officer found it very disturbing. He told me a story about another church child sex abuse case he worked years ago. He himself kicked the door in. Stormed the Church with the States Attorney by his side. He said he’d never forget the mob of church members that attended the first couple court dates. Mean-mugging him as if he was the bad guy. He said a funny thing happened as he and his brothers in blue began to answer questions from the stand. With every additional perverted and disgusting detail, more and more church supporters faded away. Eventually the spell was completely broken and the predator pastor was left alone to face his fate.

    He pointed me towards a detective and gave me this advice.

    He said, “As a father it us your responsibility to walk what you know into the department…for my children and the rest of the community”

    Sometimes our good Lord sets unscheduled apointments through which He shows us His will.

    I’m certain this happened today.

    Any1 that wants to join me is welcome.

    Know this, That this gossip train is headed to the station with or without you.

    There’s too much at stake to stop short of absolute community information.

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  58. Two thoughts:
    1. The money they lost via embezzlement is more than twice the budget of our church. Seems like they forgot about all of those verses about loving money.
    2. If they didn’t want Stan involved they shouldn’t have rented him space in the building. Or hired his minions. (With apologies to actual Minions)

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  59. So, back to the police report. Why was the confessed embezzler, whose name and race was incorrectly recorded, not present and arrested? Was he later arrested? I am fairly sure that it is a crime to steal $270,000. Just wanting to understand ‘the story’ and get more details on how it is being worked out. I looked through the public info on Kane county arrests, and did not see any record of an arrest for Jeffrey Parkham or Jeffery Parham, which I believe is the correct spelling of his first and last name, as well as his father’s. Surely more information has been provided to the members than what we have been presented?

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  60. TS00,

    I have the same questions and have been tweeting about them at @ex_harvest.

    According to the All-Church email, HBC filed a preliminary police report. The document Dee has posted is titled “Case Report” (which might be the same thing…I don’t know police terminology).

    So, no: Mr. Parham was not arrested. Based on the narrative on page 2, it seems like HBC is notifying the police but saying (more or less), “We’re going to handle this.”

    Were I still at HBC, I would be demanding answers about this (among other things).

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  61. Sòpwith:
    __

    “Devotion To The God Of Wonders?

    hmmm…

    *

    IMHO The comparison should really be made between the church, the world, and faith in Jesus Christ. The world is self-explanatory, for the most part, the 501c3 church has become a self-serving corporate entity. Faith in Jesus Christ however requires a sincere independent commitment to the one who made you.

    Make it today.

    You’ll be glad you did.

    (Sēē your bible for details)

    *

    Devoted to the God of wonders…

    ATB

    Sòpy

    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=seSl-h6WMD8

    ;~)

    – –

    Lol. How on earth do you know I haven’t? Oh yeah, I forgot. I’m one of them-there dastardly Kat-o-licks. We never heard of Jesus. 😉 I love you, Sopwith. But I do tire of the old shopworn assumptions.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  62. You learn something new every day

    Apparently, Peterborough-Grantham on the east coast main line is the longest rail journey between adjacent stations in England.

    Lockerbie-Carstairs, in Scotland, is significantly further.

    #OhFlowerOfScotlaaaandWhenWulWeSeeeeeeYerLikeAgain

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  63. TS00: I am fairly sure that it is a crime to steal $270,000.

    It may depend on whom [generic] you steal it from. From a public institution like a school or government, it may be a crime, whereas from a private individual or a profit-making business, it may depend on whether the victim or directors choose to press charges.

    In a business like a mega-church, the only crime is to cross the CEO. If he didn’t feel that his personal authority was threatened, he might not care. He can always raise 1% of his budget by a demand for sacrificial giving.

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  64. Nick Bulbeck: In a business like a mega-church, the only crime is to cross the CEO. If he didn’t feel that his personal authority was threatened, he might not care. He can always raise 1% of his budget by a demand for sacrificial giving.

    These guys (mega-biggie-pastors) always remind me of the emperor Shaddam IV in the Dune books; cut from the same cloth, I think they (like Shaddam) really do believe that the rules don’t apply to them.

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  65. This is all so disturbing. Why’s disturbing about ha is that thy are now only reporting this to police because of bloggers! They were called out about the missing money by elephants debt like last year! And then they are making a police report before checking all their records?? Lol what is that?? Can someone please share all this with harvest Naples church they have no idea what is come down the pipe towards them as McDonald is setting up his retirement plan there!!

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  66. Ann,

    Yes, that was my first thought. Give wrong last name and race so that the record isn’t linked to him in the future. Let him go but give a nice severance? Speculative, of course.

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  67. View from the Pew,

    Hey…..hey…hey!!!????? Who and what type of person addresses a letter regarding sexual abuse committed in the church with a “hey” I can’t get over this!! If I had attended that church and hot that letter you better bet I’d find him after his sermon!! Complete stupidity and they welcomed him back another campus??

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  68. Max: I’m ancient enough to remember when the church was counter-culture to the world; it is now a sub-culture of it … in the world and of the world in many places.

    There’s a worse state, Max.
    “Of the World but not In It.”

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  69. Ann: TJ exharvest attender,

    Telling truth is not gossip

    As Christians, we are exhorted to speak truth in love (Ephesians 4). See something, say something … rescuing someone from a wayward minister/ministry can be the most loving thing you do for another believer.

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  70. From the Code of Conduct for this weekend’s WordCamp event in Enbruh:

    WordCamp Edinburgh believes our community should be truly open for everyone. As such, we are committed to providing a friendly, safe and welcoming environment for all, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, religion, preferred operating system, programming language, or text editor.

    Some christian local businesses could take a leaf out of that book.

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  71. Ex Harvest:
    TS00,

    So, no: Mr. Parham was not arrested. Based on the narrative on page 2, it seems like HBC is notifying the police but saying (more or less), “We’re going to handle this.”

    Were I still at HBC, I would be demanding answers about this (among other things).

    Perhaps the Chief Information Officer(Mr. Parkam’s job title), has stashed away a few incriminating emails/documents over his tenure??? He must have had access to EVERYTHING and if he was stealing, he probably had a contingency plan put together for if/when he got caught.

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  72. Noevangelical: If they didn’t want Stan involved they shouldn’t have rented him space in the building. Or hired his minions. (With apologies to actual Minions)

    They sure make my job easier. We used to have to recruit and pay minions. Now, these schmucks hire them for us! Feasting on lamb-chops and being PAID for it by hard-working giving units!

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  73. Max: Yep, besides those who escape the world on wacky weed, there are some church folks so heavenly minded that they are of no earthly use.

    And in their Heavenly-Mindedness and Utter Separation from The World(TM), they show exactly the same corruption and behavior as The World(TM) they’ve insulated themselves from. Except in their impenetrable bubble, they have removed any reality check.

    “Just like Fill-in-the-Blank, Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!” is always a warning sign.

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  74. TJ exharvest attender: But I will not gossip.

    Talking about sex abuse, which is a crime, is not gossip-it is life saving. Far too many people, especially women, do not want to *get involved.* They pull out the gossip card and use that as a excuse to stick their heads in the sand. We. Must. Speak. for the sake of the abused.

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  75. Michelle: Why’s disturbing about ha is that thy are now only reporting this to police because of bloggers!

    Could you explain this to me. What are they doing now as a result of the blog posts?

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  76. Ann: Wouldn’t be surprised at all if they are setting up this guy as the fall guy!

    My thoughts exactly. There are too many ‘oddities’ to readily believe this is all on the up and up. Anyone know this guy? It’s time we get the full story about these things.

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  77. From the police report:
    “Tatum advised that the church would like this investigated and that they want Parkham prosecuted for theft.”

    What sense does this statement make, given the claim of a confession, with witnesses, if the alleged perpetrator is not present and arrested, or at the very least, his arrest shortly follows? Did the police not believe the claim? Did they simply forget to pursue it? Doesn’t wanting the man prosecuted mean they wish to press charges?

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  78. Jackie Alfirevic: If I recall correctly, James said he “would rather lose 1000 attendees than disclose his salary (s).”

    For real? They read all the pastors salaries to the congregation at my church and we approve once a year and any changes.

    But this poor handling and transparency around money (also, that thing about someone committing them without authorization to millions and them just going with it?) may tell why the CIO, not a financial position, had access to that much in church funds…

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  79. Pingback: Linkathon! – Phoenix Preacher

  80. TS00,

    Not for HBC. They want to handle this themselves, apparently. A la Willow Creek in 2014. So, they’ve hired a lawyer to oversee an investigation (that HBC can control) and will then present the findings to police? I’m not a legal professional, but is that how this works? For Mr. Parham to be prosecuted in criminal course, doesn’t the state conduct its own investigation?

    I don’t think this will ever be reported and prosecuted. That would require access to HBC’s financials. And, again, if he confessed in front of witnesses, etc., then why place him on leave (instead of firing him)?

    PURE SPECULATION AND OPINION, but this smells like a blackmail scenario or cover up of some kind.

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  81. dee,

    The elephants report blogged about missing money like a year or more ago. At that time it was like 500,000 that was unaccounted for. I think it’s in the article that talks about James disbanding the church planting foundation harvest bible fellowship.

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  82. When James Macdonald resigned from Harvest Bible Fellowship he also removed “his” Chicagoland churches.

    At that time, the fellowship attempted to conduct an exit audit.

    TED reports on it in depth. At the end of the story, James did not allow a true audit and actually offered 2 million dollars to Harvest Bible Fellowship to go away quietly.

    HBF refused to accept any money with a hush clause attached to it and completely severed ties with James and HBC.

    There was evidence 100s of thousands of dollars owed even without a tranparent audit. 50,000 was missing due to a check written by James to Mark Driscol’s new church directly.

    Harvest explained this away as an “honest oversight”

    The statement was released on opposite day. It was actually “deceptive premeditated theft”

    BadaBAM!

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  83. Here’s the thing, with all the allegations of money mismanaged with jmac blowing up the fellowship last year, then the cfo fred leaving and now imbezzelment charges of 2-3 hundred grand, would you think the elders would want a complete audit to get a grasp of the money at hbc. Nope jmac says it’s all okay, go back to sleep. Oh wait the elders have no power because that was misused just like the money. Run from this place or at least demand an accounting of your tithes and offerings. Jmac always said you don’t want to have God’s money at your house, why didn’t he take his own advise when remoldeling his camp house and building his Elgin mansion? So as I say not as I do. Be sure to sacrifice and give to the new campaign, lots of stuff on the wish list!

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  84. Pingback: Harvest Bible Chapel's Chief Information Officer Allegedly Stole $270K - Christian Radio News Room

  85. Pingback: Harvest Bible Chapel Accuses Their Chief Information Officer of Stealing $270,000 From Church – BCNN1 WP

  86. Pingback: Harvest Bible Chapel Accuses Their Chief Information Officer of Stealing $270,000 From Church – Urban Christian News

  87. Pingback: Harvest Bible Chapel Accuses Their Chief Information Officer of Stealing $270,000 From Church – BCNN2

  88. Cut to the chase:

    Who would continue to trust and follow a pastor who refuses to publish a line item budget detailing every dollar that is under his oversight? Is there any legitimate so-called ‘church’ in which the amount of the pastor’s salary, paid for by the members, is kept secret from the members? What exactly goes through these people’s heads when they see the houses these mega-church celebrity pastors live in, the fancy cars they drive, and the plush salaries they pay their wives and children?

    Why do we even need to talk about anything else? Forget the alleged dodgy land-transactions; alleged LLC’s in which unnamed individuals profit off of tithe funded investments; an alleged lush retreat ‘cabin’ in the woods, funded by people who worry about making ends meet with the remainder of their mediocre salary; the alleged gambling habits of multiple pastors, including MacDonald; the long train of elders leaving, many of whom have published statements of concern and claims of impropriety.

    What would it take to make any intelligent, sincere believer get off such a train and double check its destination? How will these people explain their inaction when the Christian Industrial Complex is brought to its knees for its hypocrisy and excesses? Will our children’s children visit the relics of these mega-complexes as people visit the ancient Greek amphitheatres?

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  89. Is there a chance that $270,000 embezzlement is just a cover for the mismanagement of HBF funds?

    Take you time and go back and read Dave Wisen’s letter. HBF is $270,000 in the red according to a statement James made. Now there is a person named for embezzlement that does fit the name or race of anyone employed by HBC.

    As Dave Wisen said, “He (James) is controlling the narrative. I heard another quote made by James today a few years ago,”I (James) control the narrative because I control the mic and the money.

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  90. Pete: Is there a chance that $270,000 embezzlement is just a cover for the mismanagement of HBF funds?

    Take you time and go back and read Dave Wisen’s letter. HBF is $270,000 in the red according to a statement James made. Now there is a person named for embezzlement that does fit the name or race of anyone employed by HBC.

    As Dave Wisen said, “He (James) is controlling the narrative. I heard another quote made by James today a few years ago,”I (James) control the narrative because I control the mic and the money.

    One might have to gird himself like a man (rather than a child, not a woman) in order to face the charge of ‘Conspiracy Theorist!’, but, yes, it is an obvious tactic to use a made-up event in order to distract from a real crime that one is trying to hide. Some suspect such October Surprises happen far more often than some might imagine. It doesn’t really take a genius to come up with that ploy, and anyone with enough power, money and control of the mic could pull such things off rather easily. All that would have to happen is for Parham to be ‘forgiven’ and ‘rehabilitated’ and the subject could be conveniently memory holed. All good Christians know that you cannot punish a man for a crime repented of, right? And if one believed in Evil, he might even suggest Parham keep his eyes open and publicly declare his innocence, if he is not guilty of the charge – NDA or not.

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  91. TS00: What exactly goes through these people’s heads when they see the houses these mega-church celebrity pastors live in, the fancy cars they drive, and the plush salaries they pay their wives and children?

    “If I Tithe Enough to Pastor, God Will Give ME All Those Goodies Too?”

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  92. TS00,

    I think back to the early days when ‘Seekers’ were called ‘the Unchurched’. I suspect that is more apt, as Hybels and his progeny were preying upon the naiveté and credulity (not to mention wealth) of people who didn’t know much about following God. They knew full well that the human soul longs for its maker, and they sold those who were hungry and thirsty a bill of goods. Drawn in by the spectacle, persuaded that they could be a part of something ‘meaningful’, I suspect that many have no idea they have been inducted into the Cult of Christianity. I am not sure it can be redeemed.

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  93. Dear God…This response (email) makes me ill. There is a cover up of some kind here, a protection, a closing of the ranks that happens so often in the church and in places where there is hierarchy. How could they think of putting this guy back in the congregation? How could they think of not informing parents of the truth: this man was accused of a sexual crime!! When are we going to do the right thing! I’m disgusted.
    Anonymous,

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