ECFA Removes Harvest Bible Chapel from Membership

After disclosing that Harvest Bible Chapel was under investigation, the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability finally removed the megachurch from membership due to violations of four standards of financial integrity. Earlier today the following statement was posted on the ECFA website.

WINCHESTER, Va., April 17, 2019—The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) board voted today to update the membership status for Harvest Bible Chapel (Elgin, IL) from suspension to termination due to significant violations of four of ECFA’s Seven Standards of Responsible Stewardship™. Based on new information obtained by ECFA from the church while under suspension, ECFA determined that the church was not in compliance with Standards 2, 3, 4 and 6, which pertain to Governance, Financial Oversight, Use of Resources and Compliance with Laws, and Compensation-Setting and Related-Party Transactions.

“ECFA continues to champion integrity in God’s Kingdom,” said Dan Busby, ECFA president. We are committed to applying our standards rigorously and consistently.”

ECFA’s investigation of Harvest Bible Chapel began on November 28, 2018. After a thorough review of documents made available at that time as well as an on-site visit with church officials, ECFA reported on December 10, 2018 that the church was in good standing. This statement would not have been made if Harvest Bible Chapel had shared all crucial information with ECFA.

As part of the ongoing review of the church’s compliance with ECFA’s standards, on March 11, 2019, the church shared new information that indicated possible violations of ECFA standards. Based on this new information, ECFA’s board responded accordingly and suspended Harvest Bible Chapel’s membership on March 14, 2019 and launched a further investigation, that has remained ongoing.

On April 15, 2019, ECFA obtained pertinent information from the church, providing evidence that validated significant violations of Standards 2, 3, 4, and 6. The ECFA board determined that restoration to full membership was not a viable option under the circumstances.

Meanwhile, Julie Roys published an article detailing more damaging allegations regarding financial dealings at HBC and James MacDonald’s ministry Walk in the Word.

HBC now joins Gospel for Asia as an organization kicked out of the ECFA due to public revelations generated by bloggers and news reporting. The ECFA’s process missed all of the violations. However, after investigative reporting brought issues to light, the ECFA acted.

3 thoughts on “ECFA Removes Harvest Bible Chapel from Membership”

  1. Blergh. If the prosperity gospel megachurch near my house can get an ECFA certification, it’s worthless. Seriously, the senior pastor has promoted himself as a great money manager, but he’s also filed for bankruptcy. These stories about the various churches ECFA has certified don’t gove me any sort of condidence. Givers should be demanding to see the books.

  2. So what use is the ECFA if all they do is close the stable door after the horse has long since vanished over the horizon?The financial abuses at Harvest had been going on for years, and as Julie reports, included a “black budget” of up to 20% of the church revenue which was essentially James MacDonald’s slush fund to be used at his sole discretion.

    If you can keep 20% of a megachurch’s $40+ million budget buried where the ECFA can’t find it, then their accreditation is completely worthless. They couldn’t find anything wrong even after serious allegations of financial misconducted had been leveled at the ministry, which one could argue makes them complicit in the ongoing cover-up. Why should potential donors and tithers put their trust in the ECFA’s seal of approval anymore?

    (Note, I’m not saying the black budget money was missing from the budget, just that it was disguised as ministry expenses and/or other line items in the annual budget report.)

    1. Exactly. Obviously there is no teeth here. If churches which bring in over $1 million had to disclose detailed financials on publicly available 990s with real penalties for lying, better compliance would be likely. Of course, some would still try to cheat but if the law was enforced, I think there would be less fraud.

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