Independent group to investigate Hybels, Willow Creek
by Mickey McLean
Posted 9/19/18, 05:17 pm
The Willow Creek Association announced Tuesday the formation of an independent committee to investigate accusations of sexual misconduct against Willow Creek Community Church’s founding pastor, Bill Hybels. A statement from the association, an outgrowth of the suburban Chicago church that provides leadership training, said the four-person committee would also “review organizational culture of the church and association” and “make recommendations to the church and association for future actions.”
The Willow Creek Independent Advisory Group is co-chaired by Jo Anne Lyon, general superintendent emerita of the Wesleyan Church, and Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals. The other two members are Margaret Diddams, provost at Wheaton College, and Gary Walter, past president of the Evangelical Covenant Church in Chicago. The group hopes to complete its work by early 2019, according to the statement.
Hybels retired as pastor and stepped down from his role as chairman of the association’s board earlier than planned in April, after the Chicago Tribune and Christianity Today reported he inappropriately touched women, had uncomfortable one-on-one meetings with them, and made remarks about their looks. Last month, The New York Times reported on accusations made by Hybels’ executive assistant in the 1980s, who said her boss fondled her on numerous occasions and once had oral sex with her. Hybels denies all accusations against him. The fallout from the scandal has led to mass resignations by the church’s pastors and its board.
Hybels founded Willow Creek Community Church in 1975. Today, more than 25,000 people attend worship at its seven locations in the Chicago area.
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Mickey is executive editor of WORLD Digital.