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Elgin Elgin
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Niles Niles
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Crystal Lake Crystal Lake
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    Our History

    Home · About · Our History

    One church on multiple campuses with one purpose: bring glory to God.

    Our story is still being written as God continues to change lives for the sake of Christ by His Spirit, through the ministries and people of our church.


    Eighteen people from across the northwest suburbs gathered to form a new church. They had a vision for proclaiming the authority of the Word of God without apology, for lifting high the name of Jesus through worship, for believing firmly in the power of prayer, and for sharing the good news of Jesus with boldness. Harvest Bible Chapel was born on September 18, 1988 with James MacDonald serving as Senior Pastor.

    Rolling Meadows Campus | 1995

    After meeting in Rolling Meadows High School for a number of years, Roy Gromke (a founding member and Elder of Harvest, who is now with the Lord) discovered property for sale that is now known as the Rolling Meadows Campus, with a building that was previously a furniture store, a wholesale club, and a home improvement warehouse. Our church family of 500 needed to raise $300,000 in six weeks to secure it. After praying, fasting and giving sacrificially, $392,000 came in within six weeks, and we were able to purchase our first church building. It was a fantastic provision from the Lord. Rolling Meadows launched on September 10, 1995.

    By 1997, we were experiencing challenging financial times, without enough income for our bills or to pay our staff. As the Elders  explored a number of options, the pastor and people of Prospect Heights Baptist Church (PHBC) were visiting area churches to find a place where God was visibly at work—and found that at Harvest. PHBC elected to close their doors and sell their church building for a million dollars. Then on August 24, 1997, they gave those funds to our church and committed to becoming a part of the work God was doing here. PHBC's financial gift was His provision for all of the financial needs we had at the time and allowed us to build the chapel and the gym at the Rolling Meadows Campus.

    Church Planting | 2000

    The Elders felt that God was leading us to plant churches. Though concerned about sending people forth from our own body, the Lord laid Proverbs 11:24 on the hearts of our leaders: “One gives freely, yet grows all the richer.”

    By faith, we sent out 300 people and two pastors. Our first church plant, Harvest Naperville, launched March 12, 2000. The leadership of Harvest had a vision to plant ten churches in ten years and Harvest Bible Fellowship, our church planting ministry, was formed in 2002. Today, there are many Harvest Bible Chapels in North America and around the world because the Lord honored that initial step of faith.

    Camp Harvest | 2002

    Believing there is a unique opportunity for God to change lives in the setting of a church camp, our leaders began searching the Midwest—looking for property with camp potential or for an existing camp. After two years of searching without success, the leadership backed away from the idea. Shortly after that decision was made, a generous supporter of Walk in the Word (the broadcast and teaching ministry of Pastor James), offered Harvest her property—650 beautiful wooded acres on a lake in Croton, Michigan—for a fraction of its value. Camp Harvest launched into ministry on July 28, 2002.

    In 2005, the property owner actually forgave the remaining debt, gifting us the camp debt-free. Now, over a decade of ministry later, Camp Harvest has a rich history of providing life-changing encounters with the living God for campers of all ages.

    Elgin Campus | 2003

    As the Lord continued to grow our congregation in depth and number, we began to outgrow the Rolling Meadows Campus. Our Elders started seeking the Lord for a new location, not knowing how or what God would accomplish. And He worked a miracle. On March 2, 2003, we were given the Elgin Campus—an 80-acre property with a 280,000-square-foot building and 900-car parking garage. The property was worth $53 million, and thanks be to God, we obtained it for the cost of one dollar!

    In September 2007, the campus was expanded with the opening of a 2,200-seat worship center, including a fully-outfitted Children's Ministry area and mobile bookstore. The Worship Center will eventually be able to seat 6,000 and will include a student center and food court as the Lord provides. The Mitchell Swaback Athletic Center, adjacent to the new worship center, was dedicated in December 2007.

    Niles Campus | 2004

    As our leaders were looking and praying to plant churches in the city of Chicago in 2004, a small congregation with a failing church in Niles, Illinois, was looking for new life. So they voted to never vote again and gifted Harvest their church! The Niles Campus became our third location—another awesome miracle and the first step toward the fulfillment of our passion to see Christ proclaimed in the city of Chicago.

    Today, the Niles Campus hosts multiple services every weekend.

    Crystal Lake Campus | 2007

    The Crystal Lake Campus began as the second Harvest church plant on March 4, 2001. A group of 200 were sent forth from the Rolling Meadows Campus, and held the first service in Crystal Lake, Illinois in the South High School Auditorium.

    In 2007, our leaders and church plant's leadership decided together to transition Crystal Lake from an independent Harvest plant to our fourth Chicago-land campus. The campus officially launched on September 1, 2007—and a new building was dedicated in August 2008.

    Chicago North Campus | 2010

    Our first ministry steps into the city of Chicago began on September 20, 2009, with a mobile campus meeting for worship on Sunday nights at a school in Wicker Park, Illinois. After a season of ministry in that location, the campus transitioned to what became the Chicago North Campus, which met at Bell Elementary School from 2010 to 2012, which allowed worship to take place on Sunday mornings. God was glorified and lives were transformed in and around this urban ministry. The final service was held at Bell School on September 16, 2012. The people who attended this campus transitioned to the Chicago Cathedral Campus on September 23, 2012.

    Aurora Campus | 2011

    Yet another amazing provision of the Lord took place in the life of our church, as a state-of-the-art television broadcasting facility was offered to us. On January 23, 2011, the Aurora Campus was opened to ministry with two weekend services—and is seeing tremendous growth and community impact.

    North Shore Campus | 2012

    Further fulfillment of the hope to extend our gospel ministry into Chicago, a core group in the North Shore area began meeting regularly in 2011 with the desire of becoming a Harvest campus. With no other church like Harvest in that area, we were eager to pray and plan that desire into reality. On April 8, 2012, it did with the launch of the North Shore Campus, meeting at the Winnetka Community House.

    Chicago Cathedral Campus | 2012

    In the summer of 2011, a historically-rich and unexpected opportunity presented itself to our church, in the form of a Chicago landmark—the Scottish Rite Cathedral. The Cathedral dates back to 1867 and was one of the few structures to withstand the Chicago Fire in 1871. With much prayer, our leaders considered how this building might be stewarded to impact downtown Chicago, and the decision was made to bring it under our ministry.

    Now known as the Chicago Cathedral, it launched into immediate use with the Chi-town Shindig, our Student Ministry's first-ever all-campus event. Over 1000 students joined together at the Cathedral for an evening of worship and the Word—and more than 120 decisions were made for Christ. The Cathedral was also the setting for our first Vertical Church Music live worship recording in early 2012.

    The next chapter in the life of this building started on Sunday, September 23, 2012, with the first worship service of the Chicago Cathedral Campus where the Word of God will be proclaimed without apology via video and the Harvest worship team will lead us as we lift high the name of Jesus in worship.

    Deerfield Road Campus | 2015

    In September of 2015  our North Shore Campus originally launched in 2012 to its exciting new Location on Deerfield Road in Highland Park, IL.  Having a permanent location now allows for ministry to take place throughout the week, as well as at our Weekend Sunday services.