The elder board of Harvest Bible Chapel formally apologized to independent journalist Julie Roys and several former members, months after joining founder James MacDonald in a defamation lawsuit accusing them of publishing false information about the church’s management and finances last fall.
“Regarding the lawsuit against Julie Roys and The Elephant’s Debt, at the time, Harvest leadership had grown weary of continued negative, and what was then believed to be untrue, commentary towards the church. As a result, in the fall of 2018, former staff leadership strongly recommended, and after much deliberation the elder board approved, pursuing legal action with the belief that this was protecting the church,” a new HBC elder board said in a statement Tuesday.
“While scriptures were sought and a biblical rationale was given at the time, the elder board now believes that this action was sinful. We have repented before the Lord and sought His forgiveness,” the board added.
The church then shared the apology sent to Roys, and former members Scott and Sarah Bryant as well as Ryan and Melinda Mahoney.
HBC’s former complaint against the group alleged that Ryan Mahoney was a Harvest Christian Academy teacher until 2010 when the church didn’t renew his contract for allegedly negating MacDonald’s sermons in his classroom, and offering a cynical view of the church and its culture.
Mahoney allegedly met Scott Bryant at the church, who also became “equally divisive after being declined a teaching opportunity that he repeatedly pursued.” Both men allegedly stopped attending the church at the same time, and “began publishing negative and defamatory information about Harvest” on Bryant’s personal website called Blood Stained Ink, which would eventually become The Elephant’s Debt, launched in October 2012.
The website alleged that the church was $70 million in debt in 2010 “and barely survived a bankruptcy in 2006,” information which the lawsuit disputed. It also alleged that MacDonald has problems with gambling, is financially unstable, and leads the church with an authoritarian style – all disputed by the church at the time.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair