James MacDonald’s Mansion – Notice of Foreclosure

This document showed up on Twitter today and appears to be the notice of foreclosure of James MacDonald’s million dollar mansion.

You can also see the documents here: Page one, page two.

The house and property at 14N306 Highland Ave, Elgin, IL 60124 are quite stunning for anyone, especially the pastor of an evangelical church. Currently, the house lists for $1.6 million and has 5 bedrooms and 6 baths and a roomy 5,250 sqare feet.


33 thoughts on “James MacDonald’s Mansion – Notice of Foreclosure”

  1. This foreclosure would give an opportunity to so many people to buy this mansion is really less price. I am sure that there must be so many people excited about the prospect of buying this place.

  2. Notice several things about this “mansion” that put it firmly on the McMansion Spectrum:
    * Pretentious main entrance overshadowing the rest of the building.
    * Inconsistent window size and placement.
    * Somewhat complex roofline (though far from the worst), including dormers in two sections and clerestory in one.
    * Unbalanced asymmetrical look despite being a 1 1/2 story sprawler. With four to six different-looking sections:
    ** Garage area w separate doors for each stall; dormer roof treatment.
    ** Half-section(?) of two-story “greenhouse” with near-flat roof.
    ** Two-story section with “clerestory” upper windows and near-flat roof.
    ** LARGE stone (veneer) Main Entrance section; note no two windows on this section are alike in size, position, or shape.
    ** Main halfway-consistent section with half-dormer roof.
    ** Half-section(?) visible on far right with different siding (smooth horizontal instead of rustic vertical).

    Compare to this checklist from “McMansion Hell”:

    1. And the size… A house this size would need a staff of about five to keep it clean and maintained.
      As in SERVANTS. (Another showoff sign of “I’m Rich; however could you tell?”)

      And if it’s a true McMansion, it will be so cheaply built that it will require a LOT of maintenance to keep from falling apart a few years down the road.

        1. Like animate property of a certain peculiar institution.
          Except motivated by threat of Eternal Hell and disfellowshipping/shunning.

    2. Something from an entirely different direction (model railroading):

      Inconsistent section size, roof types, and siding treatments (AKA vertical rustic siding in one section, smooth horizontal siding in another, and masonry in still another) is a way in modeling structures to suggest a structure that “just growed” haphazardly over time, one section/expansion at a time. A structure (especially residential) designed and built as a whole will appear much more consistent, and even expansions/remodels will tend to harmonize better.

      (Unfortunately, I can find no online pics of the archetypal structure illustrating this — the “small parts factory” from Frank Ellison’s pioneering “Delta Lines” circa 1940s.)

  3. There is a danger in making pastors into celebrities, made quite clear by James MacDonald: it gives them an unrealistic sense of their own importance.

    1. You get “Just Like Paris Hilton (or Kim Kardashian, or Donald Trump), Except CHRISTIAN(TM)!”

    2. It’s not about celebrity, it’s about power. There’s a reason why it’s typically pastors who have founded and/or grown their own church that end up getting into trouble. You rarely see examples like this in denominations like Methodism where the power of the pastors is much more limited.

      A pastor who has run their church for 20 years has all the support structure he needs to suppress and control all but the worst scandals through patronage and the protection of those who are supposed to guard against such misdeeds. Their reputation is the church’s reputation and must be protected at all costs, with dissenting voices threatened, silenced and banished. Elders lean heavily on Bible verses that remind followers of the evils of speaking out against their fellow Christians, to deal with grievances in house, and to accept the final word of the council.

  4. My previous next door neighbor walked away from his mortgage when he decided he no longer wanted to pay the bills. He was a nice enough guy to have the occasional conversation with over the fence, but had fingers in many pies, and I knew from early on I couldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him.

    James MacDonald would appear to the same type, only with grander designs.

  5. There is an inherent opportunity cost in paying celebrity pastors lots of money. When celebrity pastors are paid annual wages that are well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, two things occur. The first is that money that could have been spent on employing another gospel worker is instead given to one already employed. This reduces the potential amount of gospel work. The second is that if and when a church experiences a cash flow problem during an economic downturn, the highly paid celebrity pastor often retains his high wage like a CEO while other staff are laid off, reducing the amount of gospel work.

    Of course, I agree with the notion that “the worker deserves his wages”, and that pastors should be paid enough to not worry about their financial state. The idea that pastors should be kept in poverty is ridiculous.

    Nevertheless, anyone who seeks to commit their lives to full time paid ministry should not be doing it as a means of gaining material wealth. Gospel ministry is a sacrifice, and the wages we pay gospel workers should not be determined by a comparison to what they could have earned in secular work. CEOs may be paid millions, but pastors should not.

    Edit: At best, a pastor should receive the median wage, after housing and transport costs are taken into account, the ability of the church to pay him, and the socioeconomic status of the place he is pastoring in.

    1. SSSHHH!!! you are ruining the argument of “Why can’t I preach AND make a lot of money?”

    2. Nevertheless, anyone who seeks to commit their lives to full time paid
      ministry should not be doing it as a means of gaining material wealth

      “Jesus didn’t die
      So you could be an asshole;
      Jesus didn’t die
      So you could Get Rich…”
      — some song on YouTube several years ago which I’ve never been able to find since

    3. There were no paid ministers in the very early church; members shared what they had, and each person’s (regardless of their role) needs were met.

      One real problem that transcends denomination is the tendency to see ministry as ‘keeping a show on the road’; take this to its logical conclusion, the church organization becomes the ‘be-all-and-end-all’ – i.e. the god.

      (We’ve not heard much from Mr J recently, but I think would rightly point to idolatry as the underlying problem …)

    4. One of my uncles, long since retired and deceased, was a minister. I remember a time when he took a second job, not so that he could get rich but to feed his growing family. People need to remember that for every James MacDonald or Mark Driscoll, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of ministers who either barely make ends meet or hold full-time jobs while preaching on the side.

  6. Warren, you need to get the full filing. Darth Xander didn’t post all pages on Twitter.

    The complaint is also against unknown owners & non-record claimants. The property at-issue is held by a trust. The bank names MacDonald and an LLC (Vanilla Bean, LLC) as defendants, and says that there are other owners they couldn’t identify.

    Also, a former Harvest Elder (Bill Sperling) is the retired president of the bank that held the mortgage. His son is an executive at the bank, if I’m not mistaken.

    Reminder that this is the property on which a very large home was secretly built after James MacDonald downsized from a $1.5+ million home in Inverness and publicly pledged to make “lifestyle adjustments” for the sake other the Congregation and cause of Christ. The church has never addressed why MacDonald was “allowed” to surreptitiously upgrade after the downgrade .

    The promissory note is apparently attached to the complaint as Exhibit B, but I haven’t yet seen the exhibits.

    1. Also, a former Harvest Elder (Bill Sperling) is the retired president of
      the bank that held the mortgage. His son is an executive at the bank,
      if I’m not mistaken.

      “One Hand Washes the Other…”

  7. The ministry has long been a haven for narcisstic personality disorder types. Marc Driscoll, Robert Schuller, Oral Roberts, Bill Hybels, Ted Haggard, Jim Bakker, Jerry Falwell and Jr., Jimmy Swaggart. The list goes on and on. It’s really unfair to the real men of God who toil day in and day out in taking care of their congregations with salaries just above the poverty line..

Comments are closed.