Harvest Bible Chapel members react after long-time pastor fired

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Sunday was the first day of services at a Harvest Bible Chapel branch church in Chicago since the firing of a senior pastor.

As church officials work to plan next steps for the church which is millions in debt and grappling with several sex abuse accusations, security staffed the doors Sunday of the church at the River North neighborhood church.

"At the end of the day, it's God's word that is what leads our lives and that's what we're going to stick to," said church member Benjamin Delosmonteros.

RELATED: Harvest Bible Chapel fires founder James MacDonald

Senior Pastor James MacDonald was fired Tuesday by church elders after several months of public revelations, including a pattern of abusive behavior towards subordinates and extensive financial mismanagement.

Church officials said they are $42 million in debt.

"It's hard to hear but we have a forgiving God and so we have all to forgive," said church member Steve Pettis.

During the morning service, church officials addressed MacDonald's dismissal.

The service was focused on moving forward in light of debt and controversy surrounding it's former leader.

Church members said the situation has bonded them together.

"Every church isn't perfect, right? And every person isn't perfect? So we have to learn to understand that and be led by the Lord," Pettis said.

"Just the whole situation has brought people closer together; it's brought people closer to God. It really has shown their true dependence on God in these types of situations and it also showed everybody's flawed. Everybody fails," Delosmonteros said.

MacDonald's two sons sit on the church's executive leadership board and it was immediately unclear if they will remain there.
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