Harvest Bible leaders to address Niles campus' future at meeting Thursday

Updated 5/30/2019 8:37 AM

The pastor for Harvest Bible Chapel's Niles campus has confirmed that the future of the Niles site will be discussed at a "family meeting" Thursday night at the campus.

But he declined Wednesday to confirm or deny a social media rumor asserting the campus at 7333 N. Caldwell Ave. will become an independent congregation by September are true.


The Niles campus pastor, Mohan Zachariah, said Wednesday he could not comment on whether the talk is true.

Last fall, Harvest sued several of its critics for defamation, at the urging of its senior, founding pastor, James S. MacDonald. In January, the church placed MacDonald on an indefinite sabbatical. In February, after radio show host Mancow Muller played recordings of MacDonald making disparaging remarks about his critics and others, the church fired MacDonald.

The church has been holding "family meetings" at each campus this spring. The Niles meeting is the last one.

Harvest Bible Chapel of Niles obtained the land and buildings at 7333 and 7343 N. Caldwell Ave. in 2004 from Belden Avenue Regular Baptist Church, which was calling itself Crossway Baptist at the time.

The Belden congregation had started in the 1870s in Chicago, and when it moved to Niles in the early 1970s, it had more than 300 members, according to a Niles village history document. But it dwindled to about 70 members and leaders decided to convey the building to HBC Niles, according to a 2005 Chicago Tribune article.

HBC Niles was formed as an independent congregation by Harvest Bible Chapel's church-planting arm, Harvest Bible Foundation. The foundation established independent congregations throughout North America and overseas, using Harvest Bible Chapel's methods, expertise and materials.

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HBC Niles took out a mortgage of as much as $6.6 million in January 2005, according to documents filed with the Cook County recorder of deeds. It was released from that mortgage in 2007.

Zachariah started working for Harvest in 2006.

In April 2014, HBC Niles conveyed the property to Harvest Bible Chapel and became a satellite campus.

In July 2014, Harvest Bible Chapel took out a $3.6 million mortgage on the property. According to that mortgage, the most recent document recorded on the property, a final payment of $3.22 million is due July 5.

Harvest Bible Chapel's own financial statement, for the year ending Dec. 31, 2017, showed the church owing a balance of $2.4 million on the Niles property.

Harvest Bible Chapel has congregations in Rolling Meadows, Elgin, Crystal Lake, Highland Park, Chicago, Aurora and Niles.

The church has been having "family meetings" at each campus in May. The Niles meeting is the last one.

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