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

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.


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.

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

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