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In what it says will be its “last public statement” about the “traumatic experience” involving church founder Bill Hybels, Willow Creek’s Elder Board said last Friday it believes the women who accused the pastor of sexual harassment. The statement, titled “Elder Update: Reconciliation,” also indicates Hybels “has chosen not to engage in dialogue” with the elders, who “welcome the opportunity to meet with him to aid in healing and reconciliation.”
Hybels, who launched the Chicago-area Willow Creek Community Church in 1975, resigned in April 2018 after the Chicago Tribune published allegations by several women of inappropriate comments and behavior. Hybels denied the claims, and the elders at the time initially supported him. A few months later, those elders apologized and resigned; several other leaders also left the eight-site megachurch.
Allegations - Aftermath - Disbelief - Confusion - Fear
Saying the allegations and their aftermath caused a “fracture…marked by disbelief, confusion, fear, and hurt,” the new Willow Creek elders have been “undertaking a systematic approach to actively listen, learn, and apologize.” After meeting with Hybels’ accusers and various church leaders, the elders say they “recognize that there are some specific harms that must be named.”
First, the nine elders apologized to “the women and their advocates,” who experienced “verbal and written attacks” as a result of Willow Creek’s initial response to the allegations. The board affirms unequivocal support for the March 2019 findings of an Independent Advisory Group, telling the women, “We believe your allegations against Bill.” The elders ask anyone who attacked Hybels’ accusers,...
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