John Secrest today informed Julie Roys that he has been fired from his position as pastor at Harvest Bible Chapel in Naples, FL. Secrest planted the church there as a ministry of Harvest Bible Fellowship. HBF was once affiliated with HBC. Those organizations parted ways last summer.
According to Roys, Secrest partnered with the HBC through the winter. Secrest did so without being aware of Roys’ investigation and pending article. In a letter to his congregation, Secrest said:
Dear Harvest Naples Friends,
I want you to know that I have asked the elders to reverse their decision to allow Pastor James to preach in Naples while on his sabbatical as outlined in the elder update sent to you on Wednesday 1/16/2019. This request was denied.
The good intentions of our ministry partnership with Harvest Chicago have been overshadowed by these developments. Furthermore, when we entered into this agreement there was not a disclosure of the investigative reporting which led to a lawsuit and the resulting fallout.
Read Roys’ article here. Secrest regretted his decision to enter the partnership and wanted to regain leadership of the church.
Secrest also wrote HBC yesterday and asked to reverse the agreement:
I am writing to express my disagreement with the decision to have Pastor James preach in Naples during this season of sabbatical. Based on our conversations and other factors over the past 8 months I believe it would be best to revoke our ministry partnership and return Harvest Naples to self-governed autonomy.
Today, Secrest said he was fired. It is not clear if he was fired in response to his requests about the church or because he provided this information to Julie Roys. HBC did not return a request for comment.
I have a hard time putting this action together with the contrite statement by the HBC elders dated 1/16/19. In it, HBC leaders said they wanted peace and to listen.
This email was sent to HBC members:
Dear Harvest Naples Family,
It is with great sadness and regret that we write to inform you that John Secrest is no longer an employee of Harvest Bible Chapel.
Despite great efforts and reasoning, John has chosen not to yield to the consensus of our local leadership team or the elders of Harvest Bible Chapel. Conversations with John over the last few months, culminating this week, have made it clear that he no longer desires to work for Harvest Bible Chapel.
Because of his continued unwillingness to yield to the direction of the elders and the insubordinate email he recently sent counter to the elder direction, it became clear that he should not continue in his role.
Our hearts are grieved as John’s contributions to the Naples Campus cannot be understated. We wish him, Jessica, and his family well.
Harvest Naples will continue as a campus of Harvest Bible Chapel in Chicago with Pastor Rick Donald serving as interim Campus Pastor and Associate Travis Doucette as Pastor of Worship and Leadership Development. Pastor James MacDonald will not be preaching this weekend. Services will continue this Sunday at 9:00 and 11:00 am.
We recognize that situations like these often yield more questions than can be answered in one email. The local elders of Harvest Naples, Scott Stonebreaker and Fred Ananias, are available to field any additional questions.
We ask for your prayers as our church grieves this loss.
We are believing for good things as we lean into God and His Word.
The Harvest Naples Leadership Team and Elders
Unless there is a different email, the email sent by Secrest and posted by Roys expressed disagreement but certainly didn’t seem insubordinate.