Just over 15 months after losing their charismatic founder, Bill Hybels, to a sexual misconduct scandal, Willow Creek Community Church in suburban Chicago publicly closed the chapter on their flawed former leader while urging him to “repent” as needed.
“God has blessed Willow Creek Community Church to have a profound impact for His kingdom. Bill Hybels served and contributed to Willow for more than 40 years. Simultaneously, unchecked sin and intimidating behavior resulted in harm that is still felt in this present day. Christ died to free us from the power of sin. It is in that spirit that we appeal to Bill to reflect on his years in ministry, repent where necessary, and seek to live out the ministry of reconciliation,” the church’s new elder board led by Jeff Mason said in a recent statement.
Earlier this year, an Independent Advisory Group that investigated sexual misconduct allegations against Hybels, called them “credible” and recommended counseling for him as well as a raft of changes to improve the organizational culture at the church and Willow Creek Association, rebranded as the Global Leadership Network.
The recommendations were among 15 suggestions as well as a list of conclusive points made by the Independent Advisory Group in a 17-page report.
“Our desire is to move forward into this new season with transparency, acknowledging that truth coming to light can oftentimes be difficult and painful,” the board said at the time.
In what the elders say would be their final public statement on the Hybels saga this month, they noted how their efforts to engage with Hybels were rebuffed.
“We have reached out to Bill Hybels; however, he has chosen not to engage in dialogue at this time. We welcome the opportunity to meet with him to aid in healing and reconciliation. We are issuing this statement because in listening, we recognize that there are some specific harms that must be named,” they said.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair