Harvest Bible Chapel church plant in Florida threatened with eviction

Harvest Bible Chapel Naples
Worship at Harvest Bible Chapel Naples of Naples, Florida. |

A Florida church created by the Harvest Bible Chapel megachurch in Illinois is now facing eviction. 

BLC Naples, LLC, filed a complaint against Harvest Bible Chapel Naples last month in county court, demanding that the church be evicted from the property and pay as much as $15,000 in damages.

The church’s landlord, BLC Naples, had originally entered into a lease agreement in August 2018, giving the church possession of the property.

The landlord company has since accused Harvest Naples of making “unauthorized alterations and/or modifications to the building,” namely installing “interior partition walls and electrical outlets in the building,” without receiving their consent first and without obtaining the proper permits.

BLC sent the church a 15-day notice in September informing them of the violations of the lease agreement and demanding that they either “remedy the noncompliance or deliver possession,” neither of which was done, according to the complaint.

BLC Naples is a company owned by multimillionaire Douglas Bartholomew who, along with his wife, used to attend Harvest Naples, according to Naples Daily News.

Harvest Naples Pastor Jeff Donaldson told the Daily News that the couple left his church earlier this year, around two months after he arrived at the campus.

The Christian Post contacted Harvest Bible Chapel Naples this week for a response to the complaint and will update this piece when a response is received. 

Harvest Naples is an independent congregation that was one of more than 100 different churches founded by the Chicago-based megachurch Harvest Bible Chapel.

Harvest Naples held its first worship service at the Greater Naples YMCA in November 2016. Two years later, it moved into its 40-acre campus, according to its Facebook page.

The legal complaint against Harvest Naples comes as Harvest founder and former lead pastor James MacDonald was disqualified from ministry by the main church’s elder board.

In a letter read to the congregation on Sunday, Harvest Elder Karl Jackson noted that while they were grateful for MacDonald's three decades of ministry, they had to respond to problems with his past conduct.

"On February 12, 2019, James MacDonald’s employment was terminated by our elder board as our senior pastor for not being 'above reproach' and for having a 'sinful pattern of inappropriate language, anger, and domineering behavior,'" the elders said.

"As we spent time with the congregation and visited all of our campuses, it became clear that there was confusion over the previous statements about our former senior pastor. We are here today to provide clarity to our church family and to those who listened to and supported Walk in the Word, a ministry of Harvest Bible Chapel."

The clarity included confirming that MacDonald had “a pattern of improperly exercising his positional and spiritual authority over others to his own advantage" and "made repeated efforts to profit himself beyond what was honorable.”

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