A Chicago megachurch has issued an apology following two lawsuits last year that they now say should never have been pursued.
Harvest Bible Chapel meets on seven campuses and has a weekly attendance of over 8,500. The church is also in debt to the tune of around $40 million according to financial records.
This financial difficulty and other stresses led to Harvest declaring defamation lawsuits against journalist Julie Roys, website The Elephant's Debt, several former members, and the church's mortgage lender, Evangelical Christian Credit Union (ECCU).
A public apology posted to the church's website explains that in light of 1 Corinthians 6, Harvest no longer believes it was biblically right to have pursued legal action in the situation.
"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," the public apology posted to the church's website reads.
"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, we’ve sent the below apology to the defendants of the lawsuit and now ask for the forgiveness of our congregation for our failure to act according to Scripture."
A similar apology was also directed towards ECCU on the church's website.
Significant changes have taken place in the wake of the church's realization and reconciliation, including the resignation of their charismatic pastor and the appointment of a brand new church leadership team and elder board.
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'With a new church leadership team and new elder board now in place, along with this apology and the restitution Harvest has made/offered to each of you, we hope this will start the healing process between each of you and Harvest," says the online apology.
Troubles still remain far from over for Harvest, who has seen a 40 per cent decline in giving since the ousting of their pastor, James MacDonald.
A failure to comply with the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA), as well, has left the church to deal with rectifying the financial concerns that initially contributed to Harvest's decision to pursue legal action.
Harvest Bible Chapel, according to their website, was $70 million in debt in 2010, and nearly declared bankruptcy in 2006.