In the Wake of a Dropped Lawsuit, Megachurch Pastor, James MacDonald Takes ‘Indefinite Sabbatical’

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In the wake of a lawsuit against Julie Roys and others who threatened to expose his misdeeds, MacDonald has bowed out of leadership at Harvest Church altogether for what has been deemed an “indefinite sabbatical” in a statement released on the church’s website.

We have tried a variety of different strategies to address external criticisms over the past several years. It has become apparent that these efforts have failed to fully identify and address our personal failures, sins, and errors in leadership, thus perpetuating a continuation of the criticism. In prayerful reflection upon all that has happened and how we got here, a private meeting of the Executive Committee of the Elders on Monday, January 14, led to the decision to be part of a peacemaking process that seeks both reconciliation and change where needed, which was reviewed by the entire Elder Board last night.

MacDonald, who was slated to speak at the Southern Baptist Pastor’s Conference in 2019, has been under fire for several years due to his incompetence as a leader. When he took out a lawsuit against a journalist and former member of Harvest Church, Julie Roys, for what he alleged as “a negative impact on Plaintiffs’ ability to convert new persons to the faith,” as well as causing them to lose money.

When the lawsuit was dropped, Julie Roys wrote a blistering open letter to MacDonald calling for not only his repentance, but several actions to repair the damage he caused by launching his attack against them.

Some of these requests included a public acknowledgment of wrongdoing in filing the lawsuit, to begin with, admit that he lied about Roys and the other defendants, and repay all legal fees and other monetary damages he caused.

While side-stepping his call to fully acknowledge his sin against Roys and the other defendants as requested, MacDonald did state,

For a long time I have felt unequal to all but the preaching task at Harvest. I have battled cycles of injustice, hurt anger, and fear which have wounded others without cause.

I have carried great shame about this pattern in certain relationships that can only be called sin. 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. I blame only myself for this and want to devote my entire energy to understanding and addressing these recurring patterns.

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One of the bigger issues, however, is the attraction to the celebrity preacher. James MacDonald is far from theologically sound, yet, despite his exegetical ineptitude, he is regularly asked to speak at large conferences, including the Southern Baptist Convention. The issue here is not theological, it’s about money. And with James MacDonald, he’s a slave to it.

If you were to die today, where would you go? Heaven? Hell? Not sure?