Bank drops foreclosure suit against James MacDonald

Pastor James MacDonald preaches at Harvest Bible Chapel. | Courtesy of James MacDonald

Controversial founder of Harvest Bible Chapel in greater Chicago, James MacDonald, is no longer in danger of losing his sprawling $1.6 million custom-built home in Elgin, Illinois, after the bank holding his mortgage withdrew a foreclosure lawsuit against him Wednesday.

Republic Bank of Chicago filed an order in Kane County court saying it agreed to dismiss the suit because it reinstated MacDonald’s mortgage but did not specify why, the Daily Herald reported.

MacDonald had previously owed $947,546.34 on his five-bedroom, 5.5-bathroom home that sits on 10 acres along Highland Avenue. He allegedly borrowed $990,000 from Republic Bank of Chicago to purchase the home in 2016. Since last December, it was reported that MacDonald hadn’t made a mortgage payment up to the time of the foreclosure lawsuit and had owed $925,902.96 on the loan, $20,669.34 in unpaid interest, as well as $974.04 in late charges. MacDonald’s LLC, Vanilla Bean, was also named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

The dismissal of the foreclosure lawsuit comes just over two months after MacDonald settled a legal dispute with Harvest Bible Chapel for an undisclosed amount, the Roys Report said. In his arbitration against the church which he began in May 2019, MacDonald fought over his firing and the church’s broadcast ministry, Walk in the Word.

Information about the confidential Aug. 14 settlement between HBC and MacDonald came from documents in MacDonald’s defamation lawsuit against radio host Mancow Muller. HBC representatives were not immediately available to comment on the settlement when contacted by phone on Friday.

MacDonald was fired in February 2019 after he made “highly inappropriate recorded comments” on Muller’s radio program as well as “other conduct.” His ouster also came under a cloud of financial irregularities at the church.

Multiple investigations suggested he exploited church funds, particularly as it related to discretionary spending, for personal use. The church had promised it would seek reimbursement and the financial irregularities led to The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability terminating HBC’s membership at one point.

“The greatest area of failure to meet ECFA’s standards was in the management and control of the former Senior Pastor’s discretionary account. This account was a portion of the general compensation budget and was managed and controlled exclusively by a combination of three people in 2018: the former Senior Pastor, the former Chief Operating Officer, and the former Senior Administrator to the Senior Pastor. These three people are no longer employed by Harvest Bible Chapel,” the church said in a previous statement in which it promised to prevent future financial abuse.

MacDonald is now suing Muller for allegedly fabricating stories about him and falsely labeling him a “con man” on his radio show, according to information cited by Roys from the latest lawsuit.

He alleges that he has been unable to get work with a new church “in whole or in part” due to Muller’s actions. He further alleges that he has suffered financial losses including $1.9 million in lost salary or deferred compensation; $300,000 in lost intellectual property royalties and speaking engagements, as well as $500,000 in lost publishing.

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