Church leaders apologize to Nancy Ortberg, Nancy Beach, Vonda Dyer, and other women with accusations: “We have no reason not to believe you.”
In the summer of 2008, Bill Hybels stood in front of thousands of pastors and other church leaders gathered at Willow Creek Community Church and admitted his megachurch had failed.
“We made a mistake,” he told the crowd gathered for the 2008 Global Leadership Summit (GLS). A detailed Willow study had found that the church had helped many people find new faith in Jesus, but had failed to teach them how to practice the spiritual disciplines needed to grow their faith.
He vowed the megachurch would do be better in the future.
Ten years later, Willow Creek’s leaders confessed even more mistakes. On the eve of the 2018 GLS, they admitted in a special congregational meeting that church leaders had failed to appropriately handle recent allegations of sexual misconduct against their founding pastor.
Lead pastor Heather Larson announced that she was resigning immediately. The church’s elder board announced that its members would also step down in an orderly fashion by the end of 2018.
Steve Carter, the church’s lead teaching pastor, had already resigned on Sunday, saying he could no longer continue at the church in “good conscience.”
At tonight’s Willow family meeting, elder Missy Rasmussen said she and other church leaders had been blinded by their faith in their founding pastor and had failed to hold Hybels accountable.
“We trusted Bill, and this clouded our judgment,” she said.
That blindness, Rasmussen said, led to a number of missteps, including a rushed investigation when allegations that Hybels had had an affair first surfaced in 2014. Church leaders did not move quickly enough to secure his’ devices or other forms of communication, she said. When the woman who made …