James MacDonald Withdraws From 2019 Southern Baptist Pastors’ Conference; Andrew Brunson Added to Lineup

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (BP) — Chicago pastor James MacDonald has withdrawn from his speaking slot at the 2019 Southern Baptist Convention Pastors’ Conference in Birmingham, Ala., conference president Danny Wood announced Dec. 17.

Meanwhile, Andrew Brunson, the American pastor released this fall from imprisonment in Turkey, has been added to the June 9-10 lineup of speakers, the Pastors’ Conference announced in late November. Brunson will preach from Matthew 5:10 — “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.”

Wood said via Twitter that MacDonald, pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago, “contacted me personally to say he is stepping away from all outside speaking engagements for a season (including Pastors Conference 2019). Thankful for this brother, and he has my prayers as he focuses upon his own local church ministry.”

MacDonald has spoken at the SBC Pastors’ Conference at least four times since 2012. During his 2015 appearance, MacDonald announced Harvest would begin cooperating with the SBC.

Wood’s announcement came the week after WORLD Magazine renewed past allegations MacDonald and other Harvest leaders “have shown an ongoing pattern of relational and financial abuse, a lack of transparency, and outright deception.” Problems at Harvest have not “been resolved,” WORLD claimed, during the five years since they first were alleged publicly.

MacDonald “disputed much of the criticism,” according to WORLD, and a former Harvest elder board chairman said MacDonald’s “character is not in question.” In a Dec. 14 statement published by Christianity Today, Harvest took issue with WORLD’s report and said the church “has owned its mistakes and endured to become a happier and healthier church.”

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Source: Baptist Press