James MacDonald, founder of Harvest Bible Chapel in greater Chicago, who was recently fired under a cloud of financial abuse, was allegedly being paid nearly a million dollars per year in regular salary, had access to approximately a million more in discretionary spending, and is currently owed $2.6 million in deferred compensation by the debt-ridden church.
Independent journalist Julie Roys reported Wednesday that in 2018, HBC paid MacDonald $80,000 per month ($50,000 monthly in regular salary and $30,000 monthly in deferred compensation), which amounts to $960,000 annually.
“This number does not include additional money MacDonald may have received from his broadcast ministry, Walk in the Word, Harvest’s church planting network, Vertical Church, its songwriting and worship ministry, Vertical Worship, and books,” Roys said.
Roys reported that she confirmed the details of MacDonald’s compensation arrangement with a senior leader at the church. The Christian Post reached out to HBC seeking comment on the report Thursday but officials authorized to speak on behalf of the church were not immediately available.
Citing Emmanuel “Manny” Bucur, a deacon and one-time volunteer bodyguard of MacDonald’s, and Mark Banaszak, a Harvest member and captain of the church’s Saturday night security team, as sources, Roys reported that HBC gave MacDonald between $800,000 to $1.2 million annually in discretionary funds.
Half of the discretionary funds in general came from a senior pastor discretionary fund, and a similar amount came from a discretionary fund in Walk in the Word. Roys noted that the unnamed HBC leader she consulted with confirmed the discretionary funds were part of a hidden or “black budget.”
The news comes just over a month after HBC officials revealed they are struggling financially due to the hemorrhaging of members and donations in the fallout from MacDonald’s Feb. 12 ouster from the megachurch.
In their message to members on March 10, officials reviewing finances at the church admitted that there was a “lack of financial control” over MacDonald’s office but did not provide any details of how that lack of control manifested.
“As our Harvest 2020 team is charged with reviewing all finances within the church, we have found that there was a lack of financial control and oversight as well as questionable spending practices made by the senior pastor’s office.
“In addition, we have identified there was a separate budget for the senior pastor’s office over which there was not sufficient controls and oversight,” officials said.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair