“From 2014-2018, Harvest gave Walk in the Word more than $6 million worth of free television broadcast time According to Harvest’s 2016 Financial Statement, Harvest sold its property in Aurora, Illinois, to TBN for $15,600,000 in 2014. But TBN paid only $4 million of that amount in cash. The rest was given to the church in free broadcast time, which was then granted to Walk in the Word to use over eight years.”
(Julie Roys) Harvest Bible Chapel founder, James MacDonald, told three elders in 2013 that he’d “lose 1,000 sheep” before he’d reveal his salary. That’s according to former elders—Scott Phelps, Barry Slabaugh, and Dan Marquardt—who resigned soon after hearing that comment, and months later, were publicly excommunicated. (The church has since apologized for its “harsh” discipline of the men.)
However, now that Harvest has fired MacDonald, this long-held secret is being revealed. And given the amount of MacDonald’s salary, it’s understandable why MacDonald would want to keep it hidden.
In 2018, Harvest reportedly paid MacDonald $80,000 per month ($50,000/month in regular salary and $30,000/month in deferred compensation) for a total of $960,000 per year. (This number does not include additional money MacDonald may have received from his broadcast ministry, Walk in the Word, Harvest’s church planting network, Vertical Church, its songwriting and worship ministry, Vertical Worship, and books.)
That’s according to Emmanuel “Manny” Bucur, a deacon and one-time volunteer bodyguard of MacDonald’s, and Mark Banaszak, a Harvest member and captain of the church’s Saturday night security team. Both men said they received the information during a recent conversation with two senior leaders of Harvest. (Bucur and Banaszak told me the identities of the Harvest leaders but requested that I not report them. I have since confirmed the information they told me directly with a senior leader at the church. I also emailed Harvest’s Central Leadership Team for official comment, but no one responded.)
Bucur and Banaszak said one of the leaders told them that MacDonald’s deferred compensation plan totals $2.6 million and was initially set up in 2010. They added that this leader said that the deferred compensation plan has no provisions enabling the church to “claw back” the money. However, given that the church is nearly $40 million in debt, its creditors likely would not release the money until the debt is paid back—or when one of several “trigger events” occur, like death, disability, or reaching a certain age.
Bucur and Banaszak said their source also told them that in addition to compensation, Harvest gave MacDonald between $800,000 – $1.2 million annually in discretionary funds. Half of that money reportedly came from a senior pastor discretionary fund, and a similar amount came from a discretionary fund in Walk in the Word.