Less than two months after Harvest Bible Chapel in greater Chicago ousted founder James MacDonald for abuse of power and other sins, a new report says he splurged thousands of dollars on a vintage car he gifted Ed Stetzer, the Billy Graham chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College last spring.
Citing a tip published by Dee Parsons at The Wartburg Watch, independent journalist Julie Roys, confirmed in a report Tuesday that MacDonald gifted Stetzer a just under $13,000 1971 VW Beetle last April. Stetzer said he had no idea MacDonald used money from church donations to pay for the gift.
“Long story short…James heard that my daughter and I were wanting to fix up an old VW bug as a father/daughter project. And, he surprised us with the gift of 1971 VW, which I assumed was from his personal funds,” Stetzer told pastor and podcaster Joe Thorn in a message about the gift shortly after Parsons’ post went public last Friday.
Stetzer reportedly later checked with HBC after reading reports of the financial scandal at the church and discovered that the funds for the Beetle had come from MacDonalds’ Walk in the Word broadcast ministry, a sub-ministry of the church. He reimbursed the ministry for the full value of the car in March.
Roys noted that Stetzer, who serves as contributing editor for Christianity Today, and dean of the School of Mission, Ministry, and Leadership at Wheaton College, and executive director of the Billy Graham Center, might have improperly impacted the way in which CT reported on the HBC debacle as it unfolded in recent months.
“Stetzer’s receipt of a large gift from a celebrity pastor like MacDonald raises conflict of interest issues, given Stetzer’s position at Wheaton College and especially his role as an editor for Christianity Today,” Roys wrote.
As part of his paid journalistic relationship with CT, Stetzer manages one of eight special sections on CT’s website called “The Exchange with Ed Stetzer.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair