A Davenport church begins a new chapter with a fresh identity.
The former Harvest Bible Chapel near I-74 and 53rd Street is now Coram Deo Bible Church.
Church leaders told Local 4 News it’s a move to show greater autonomy and build their identity.
They’ve been in the rolling out the rebranding since announcing it in January.
They made the change to their name after their congregation, and other Harvest church bodies in the United States cut ties with their founder, Pastor James MacDonald almost two years ago.
Coram Deo Bible Church was part of the Harvest Bible Fellowship up until 2017 when the collective of churches dissolved.
It was following issues with MacDonald’s actions and his eventual departure from the group.
More recently, MacDonald was fired from a separate Harvest Bible Chapel congregation in the Chicago area, which has also been dealing with a fraud investigation.
For Coram Deo, those were two reasons to look at a change.
Coram Deo Bible Church Senior Pastor Rob Willey said, “My wife and I and our three girls moved here. It was August of 2004.”
When Senior Pastor Rob Willey started his congregation in the Quad Cities, it was just a few people. Now, it’s grown.
Willey said, “On a typical weekend, we run around 1,500 or 1,600.”
He’s getting ready to welcome parishioners for their first Easter as the Coram Deo Bible Church.
Willey said, “Just gladly embraced and it seems to be a great deal of excitement about it.”
It’s after nearly 15 years known as Harvest Bible Chapel.
Willey said, “Now love the fact that we’re able to convey our DNA and our passions.”
When their parent organization, Harvest Bible Fellowship ceased in 2017, Willey said they were no longer obliged to maintain the name and started the search for something to better fit them.
“We thought man; this is a great opportunity to express who we are. Just our own DNA, the things we’re passionate about and so on. There was no more obligation or any agreement that we had to keep the name Harvest Bible Chapel,” said Willey.
When he announced the Coram Deo identity during a sermon this past January, he explains it’s a way to focus on what they believe and to further separate from the movement’s founder James MacDonald.
Willey said, “No longer associated with the church or pastor who started the Harvest movement and we don’t want to be. There have just been too many decisions over the years, too many things that we don’t resonate with or agree with.”
For Willey, the new name is also providing a fresh start because there is almost always the question, what does it mean.
Willey said, “Church because that’s who we are. Bible because that’s what we believe, Coram Deo because that’s how we live. In the presence of God.”
Willey told Local 4 News there was a lot of involvement from the Coram Deo to find the name.
Many of the churches that once were affiliated with the Harvest Bible Fellowship have since formed the Great Commission Collective, which Coram Deo is a member.