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Hybels denies reports of inappropriate behavior

by Lynde Langdon
Posted 3/23/18, 01:42 pm

The Chicago Tribune, in a lengthy report published Thursday night, accused former megachurch Pastor Bill Hybels of inappropriate behavior toward women. The report states the leadership of Willow Creek Community Church in suburban Chicago investigated the accusations and found them unsubstantiated. Hybels told the Tribune the reports were false and possibly made up to discredit him. “I’m out of explanations,” he said, adding, “I’m so exhausted of hearing so many lies that I’ve stopped playing detective.” Several former church staff members, including Willow Creek’s first female teaching pastor, and others related to the ministry told the newspaper Hybels made suggestive comments, gave long hugs, invited women to his hotel room when his wife was not present, and, in one case, had an extramarital affair. Nancy Ortberg, a Christian author and another former teaching pastor at Willow Creek, and two other former board members said they resigned because they believed the church’s investigation was inadequate. Hybels announced last fall his plan to retire in October 2018 after he transitions his duties to pastors Heather Larson and Steve Carter. Pam Orr, chairwoman of the church’s elder board, defended Hybels in a statement posted Friday on the Willow Creek website: “We have full confidence in Bill’s character, and we look forward to him continuing in his role as Senior Pastor until he transitions as planned in October of this year.” Christianity Today reports the elders also sent an email to church members defending Hybels and announcing a “church family meeting” Friday night at the South Barrington location, where Hybels and the elders will address the accusations in the Tribune article. Hybels founded Willow Creek Community Church in 1975. Today, more than 25,000 people attend worship at its seven locations in the Chicago area, and it provides leadership training to tens of thousands more through the Willow Creek Association.

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Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital’s managing editor and reports on popular and fine arts. She lives in Wichita, Kan., with her husband and two daughters. Follow Lynde on Twitter @lmlangdon.

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  • Joe M
    Posted: Sat, 03/24/2018 01:55 pm

    The charges suggest Hybels struggled with a roving eye for a long time.

    And it truly is hard to believe the accusations are simply "made up."

    On the other hand, what on earth is the point of now persuing them?  His sins were not inappropriate behavior "towards women," like the recipient of a hug, or an invitation, was a victim, for crying out loud. If they happened, they were simply sins. 

    Someone wants to invoke the spirit of #metoo in a public trial, but a least from what's reported that seems laughable.

    The innate problems of the megachurch model is a discussion for another time.

  • momof 13
    Posted: Tue, 03/27/2018 12:13 pm

    It wasn't laughable to the one it happened to. Apparently you've never been touched by someone who has a spirit of lust. It doesn't matter if they brushed past you and just acted as if everything was normal. The intentions of their heart are felt. Remember when Jesus was touched by the woman who had faith to be healed? She didn't even have to touch His body; only the hem of His garment. He said "who touched me?" because the power had left left in responce to the intentions of her heart. The disciples were confused as to how Jesus could ask such a thing as many people were touching him. A man who touches a woman with evil, sinful desires leaves an 'icky' feeling and takes from her purity for his own pleasure. It doesn't matter if it is only a hug. I can assure you they were indeed victims.