The Elders met early for December’s meeting due to the Elder/Wives Christmas party scheduled for their normal meeting time. Below is an update from our recent meeting on matters that would be of concern to the congregation.

Praying for Cris Nelson

Good news was shared regarding answered prayer in the life of Elgin Elder Cris Nelson, who had a Whipple surgery Thursday, November 29, 2018. His doctor believes the complicated surgery was successful. Pastor Jeff and Bethany Donaldson have walked this road with Cris and Kelly and report a true gratefulness while prayers for complete recovery and healing continue.

Investigation

The attorney and forensic accountant we hired to research the full extent of the alleged misconduct related to our former CIO (reported in late October) continue their work. Exhaustive discovery of every minute fraud incident may not be cost effective once major transactions have all been independently reviewed. While we have no reason for suspicion, the investigation continues with staff interviews to establish, on a factual basis, that no one else was involved.

Lawsuit

The church’s lawsuit against our most persistent public adversaries progresses slowly, with little to report. Their efforts to bring this matter before the court of public opinion have not significantly impacted our church. Pastors and Elders are hearing little to no concerns from our own congregation, for whom we have taken these protective steps. Two important questions we have heard are answered in our web feature, In the News.

We remain committed as a church to the biblical teaching on conflict resolution and forgiveness between believers. If any or all of the defendants agreed to cease their interference and leave the governance of our church to the Elders that God has raised up, we would drop them from this suit immediately. However, we are willing to go the distance in seeking a legal remedy because we believe these actions serve notice that we will not hesitate to protect Harvest Bible Chapel from malicious efforts to damage our church or discredit our leaders with false statements.

Staff Transition

Scott Milholland submitted his resignation to the Executive Committee of the Elders on November 18. He will continue in his role through the end of the year. Contributive factors to Scott’s resignation were the frustration he felt at the immense people demands that accompany a church COO role, versus his marketplace experience. Also of concern to Scott was not uncovering the alleged fraud from a staff member under his oversight, though Scott’s integrity in the matter is not in question. Scott also felt the struggle to handle needed staff transitions well in such a highly relational culture.

It is our hope that Scott will continue to serve churches like ours in the areas of his greatest strengths. For nearly 5 years, Scott has brought significant strengths in performance management, mentoring of next generation leaders, and improving the systems that support our church’s assimilation of new members. Shannon has done much to improve our ministry to women, and her participation as a teacher will be missed. A reception is being planned to allow church family to thank the Milhollands personally. In conformity to established Elder policy for staff transitions, an announcement will be made in church this weekend. We are grateful for Scott’s contributions and wish him well in his future endeavors.

Church Mortgage

Recently, our lender for nearly ten years surprised us with a last minute refusal to complete a promised refinance of our existing mortgage. As stewards of God’s resources, we are seeking to be fairly compensated from the lender’s insurance company for the costs we have incurred due to our detrimental reliance on the lender’s promised refinance, and expect that a positive settlement will be achieved in due course. We have been seeking an alternative lending arrangement and are pleased with the progress. In this new lending syndication, several lenders have reviewed our ability, against more than $150 million in assets, to support a total mortgage of $42 million — and we have been encouraged by the positive feedback with regard to the strength of our financial position. We believe it is likely the mortgage will be fully refinanced by the end of 2018.

Final Updates

This weekend our congregation is rallying together to add their pledges to those already made by our leaders in the four areas emphasized during our fall Closer campaign. Leadership pledges made in advance total more than $?? (to be announced this weekend). We anticipate sharing the final Closer campaign results across all eight campuses during Celebration Weekend, December 8-9.

The Elders will gather this Tuesday night with their wives for a time of prayer and rejoicing over God’s faithfulness to our Board and to our church family.

Please be in prayer for Pastor James and Kathy as they lead a Walk in the Word Rally this Friday night, December 7, to help launch our new Naples Campus. More than 1200 people have already registered for this exciting event. They will be back with us for Celebration Weekend.

Believing together with you for a wonderful Christmas season of rejoicing,
The Executive Committee for the Elders of Harvest Bible Chapel

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