Megachurch whose pastor stood down loses Financial Accountability status
Matthias Browning

Matthias Browning

Harvest Bible Chapel, one of Chicago’s biggest churches, has lost its accreditation with the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability.

James MacDonald, the founder and senior minister of the megachurch, was fired last month for misconduct. MacDonald was removed from his post by the board, citing ‘highly inappropriate recorded comments.’

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The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) is an American financial standards association representing evangelical Christian organizations, which qualify for tax-exempt, nonprofit status and receive tax-deductible contributions, which includes the nation’s churches.

Founded in 1979, ECFA accredits over 2,200 member organizations which have demonstrated compliance with its financial standards. As of 2015, the collective annual revenue of ECFA member organizations is reported to be nearly $25 billion.

The ECFA issued an official statement, stating that, “Based on information received March 11, ECFA’s board of directors has suspended Harvest Bible Chapel’s membership effective March 14, 2019.

“On November 28, 2018, ECFA opened a formal investigation of Harvest Bible Chapel to review their compliance of ECFA’s Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship. During a site visit to the church in December, we thoroughly examined the information made available to us and believed the church was in compliance with our standards.

“Given the emergence of new information, we have concerns the church may be in serious violation of ECFA Standards 2, 3, 4, and 6. During the indefinite suspension, the church may not represent that they are an ECFA member or display ECFA’s membership seal. The investigation has been and will remain ongoing during the suspension as we work to determine whether Harvest Bible Chapel should be terminated, advised of the steps necessary to come into full compliance or whether they are in fact in compliance with our standards and should, therefore, be restored to full membership.”

The church has also replaced the board which oversaw the church under the founding pastor with an entirely new board. Since the ECFA’s announcement, the church has issued no further statements.

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