Last week, Baptist News Global published an interview with James MacDonald, founder and former senior pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel in Rolling Meadows, Illinois. In the interview, MacDonald discussed his arrest in California earlier this year for allegedly assaulting a 59-year-old woman during a traffic altercation.
On March 22, MacDonald accidentally struck the woman’s vehicle while attempting to parallel park his truck. Police reported that as the woman got out of her car to confront MacDonald, he allegedly “jumped out of his truck and attacked the victim.”
As MacDonald allegedly assaulted the woman, his truck rolled backwards and struck the vehicle parked behind it. A statement from the police said that witnesses stopped MacDonald from leaving the scene until the authorities arrived.
MacDonald was arrested on one count of “assault by means likely to produce great bodily harm and one count of battery with serious bodily harm.” He was released that night after posting bail. The woman was transported to the hospital with serious injuries.
“I barely touched the lady in front of me. She jumped out of her car and came running at me,” MacDonald told Baptist News Global. “And I was so startled that I jumped out of my car and didn’t even put it in park. And it rolled into the person behind me, and I reached toward this lady.”
MacDonald said that he must have blacked out because he has been trying to “piece together” what happened that day. “I think I blacked out and I fell. The reason I know is because I fell to the ground. I never put my hands underneath me.”
The former pastor, who grew a church plant of 18 people meeting in a local high school in the late 1980s to a multicampus megachurch of over 13,000 worshipers, now preaches to 40 to 50 addicts and their family members every Saturday night in a garage.
“We call the property Rock Bottom, because that’s where I’ve been and that’s where these men are,” MacDonald said. “And I’m so happy in it. And that’s the good thing that’s going on.”
MacDonald, who in the interview said he attempted to resign from Harvest Bible Chapel, was removed from his senior pastor position on Feb. 13, 2019, for what church elders characterized as “engaging in conduct…contrary and harmful to the best interests of the church.”