Willow Creek Community Church in Chicago is calling on their founding pastor Bill Hybels to "repent" after repeated allegations of sexual misconduct forced him to resign from decades of ministry.
"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," Willow Creek's new elder board said in a recent statement. https://www.willowcreek.org/en/blogs/south-barrington/elder-update-july-...
An Independent Advisory Group investigated the claims of "sexually inappropriate words and actions" brought against Hybels and found them to be credible in a 17-page report released in March.
The board said in its statement that the sexual misconduct scandal was a "traumatic experience" that fractured the church.
The elders said they have begun the difficult work of reconciliation but their efforts to speak with Hybels have been in vain.
"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.
The elders also apologized to the victims of abuse for the attacks they have received from critics.
"We believe your allegations about Bill. We ask anyone who participated in verbal and written attacks to prayerfully examine their actions, apologize for wrongdoing, and seek to mend the relationship," they said.
The church said this will be their last public statement on the issue and are focused on healing and reconciling.
"As we look ahead to the future, we trust God will guide our steps."