In order to help people who missed this story, here are what I thought were the key articles that came out from the allegations against Bill Hybels on March 22nd to his resignation from Willow Creek Community Church on April 10, 2018 and beyond.
This post has been updated: It was originally posted in April 2018 but links have been added regularly since then.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ojmS_uEhQRo Video of initial response of Heather Larson, Pam Orr, Steve Carter, and Bill Hybels at Willow Creek to allegations on March 23.
Commentary: https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/time-reckon-celebrity-power/ Andy Crouch commentary about broad climate of celebrity pastors.
Prescient Commentary from 2015: https://religionnews.com/2015/10/16/are-abuse-survivors-best-served-when-institutions-investigate-themselves/ Boz Tchividjian article from 2015 that is relevant to independent vs. internal investigations.
https://www.willowcreek.org/en/willow-creek-announcement Both March 26 point-by-point defense by Bill Hybels and April 10 Bill Hybels resignation videos are available here and at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcTYLKkCwlGvqODnuKvc-1g
By my count, the five allegations explained by Hybels on March 26 include: Nancy Beach (described in Chicago Tribune article above); and Vonda Dyer (described most fully in her statement below); and three anonymous: woman who recanted (oral sex, overnights, 1150 emails, 14 years, suicidal, counseling) described in many of the resources; woman who swam naked with code word moon; recent case of woman who pressed him to bring wine to his room and he has this time email evidence that he rebuffed her.
https://jodiwalle.com/ Jodi Walle says culture of Willow was jokey.
https://vondadyer.weebly.com/blog Vonda Dyer accusation of Bill Hybels
https://veritasbetold.wixsite.com/website Betty Schmidt, former elder statement
https://www.willowcreek.org/en/willow-creek-announcement Both March 26 defense and April 10 resignation videos are available here
https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2018/april/bill-hybels-resigns-willow-creek-misconduct-allegations.html Summary article by Bob Smietana of resignation
http://www.nancylbeach.com/blog/2018/4/11/why-we-cant-move-on Nancy Beach comment
https://www.nancylortberg.com/ Nancy Ortberg allegation (the sixth allegation by my count).
http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-met-willow-creek-hybels-publishers-20180413-story.html Some publishers stop printing some of Bill Hybels’s books
https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2018/april/bill-hybels-willow-creek-promises-investigation-allegations.html "Christianity Today talked with six women who have made allegations against Hybels and reviewed emails and documents about the allegations." Bob Smietana (April 21). Three new allegations here: Maureen “Moe” Girkins, Julia Williams, feet rub anonymous woman.
http://www.juliawilliams.net/blog (April 23) .
There has been a total of 9 women (according to my count) mentioned so far above. Six have talked with Christianity Today.
Willow Creek elders apologize for casting doubt on women's allegations against founder Hybels
Manya Brachear Pashman
May 10, 2018
An update from the Elders on May 9, 2018
Vonda Dyer statement May 10, 2018
Nancy Beach MY RESPONSE TO THE “APOLOGY” May 11, 2018
WCA statement about the Global Leadership Summit. May 17, 2018. https://twitter.com/wcagls/status/997231537232982016
My (Andy Rowell) response to WCA statement is in this thread:
- Sadly, what is missing here is deep regret for the part that the WCA Board played in dismissing allegations and failing to provide accountability. Also, they do not say they will seek out the truth regardless of what the church elders do. So, "restoration" talk painful and scary.
- If one reads through the allegations and watches the defense by Bill Hybels and then the subsequent full descriptions of what occurred by the 8-9 women, it is clear (as Hybels admitted) inappropriate, defensive (abuse of power), and unwise things occurred.
- Recall @NancyOrtberg @KPowellFYI @presjonwallace resigned from the WCA Board @wcagls in 2015 because of "the board’s decision not to pursue another inquiry." The rest of the WCA Board needs to express deep regret for their mistake.
- The WCA letter is signed by @trdevries and @DickDeVos (yes, husband of Betsy). I don't see on the WCA website who the other WCA board members are.
- A reminder that the Willow Creek Association is a separate organization from Willow Creek Community Church. The WCA Board have had to deal with controversies in the past with vetting speakers. They're putting on a public event for hundreds of thousands of people.
- Making tough decisions that involve millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of people so that Christ is represented well is what the WCA Board signed up for.
- I'm concerned because I used to believe in the GLS and Hybels. Our church hosted GLS last year and I attended. And I am a professor of ministry leadership at Bethel Seminary which has advertised at the GLS in the past.
Elders Update #3 (May 23, 2018)
Vonda Dyer statement May 24, 2018: THE CART BEFORE THE HORSE
Betty Schmidt, May 25, 2018
Nancy Ortberg, May 24, 2018, Sequence Matters
As Willow Creek seeks reconciliation, pastor’s accusers seek independent inquiry
Manya Brachear Pashman
May 27, 2018
Elder Update #4 (June 6, 2018)
Scot McKnight reflection (June 27, 2018)
Comment from Andy Rowell (June 27, 2018)
I agree with Scot's take here. Thanks for this reflection, Scot. I was concerned, then open to the accusations being explained properly, but then more and more similar accusations came out and the explanations began to sound more and more far-fetched, then Hybels resigned, and then more accusations came out. It is a sad situation. Hybels was a hero to me.
It is good to have the conflict confrontation procedure of Matthew 18:15-17 in mind but it teaches proportionate escalation. Sometimes a situation needs to be escalated quickly past some levels because of the seriousness of the offense. For example, abuse of a child being reported to the police. A number of people resigned from the Willow Creek Association board a number of years ago when a proper investigation into these matters was not conducted. Scot is also right that when an organization does not properly deal with a situation, it is appropriate to speak publicly (in the press, on the internet, etc.) about the truth so as to warn others and see if there are more accusations.
None of us envy the responsibility that the elders of WCC or the board of WCA were in or are in because of Hybels's behavior. But the priority should be on the WCA and WCC commissioning an independent organization and then giving up control over it. It will seek out the truth of what has purportedly occurred and investigate the counter-evidence and issue a report to the church and the accusers. They also need to report on the failures of the WCC elders and WCA board and their policies and culture (email, private homes, hotel rooms, travel, alcohol, sleeping pills, language about other people's bodies and clothing, appropriate trust, swimming, exercise and fitness, accusations of inappropriate behavior, sidelining of spouses to isolate, and firing people who were raising accusations, denouncement of accusers). Perhaps also there will be words of concern about how the situation was handled by the accusers or recommendations for the future about how accusations should be reported and how they should be handled if they are not believed. This report should be made available to the accusers and to the accused and those who commissioned the report. Victims should be allowed to remain confidential in the report. It will not be long before Bill Hybels will be back as a speaker and author if Mark Driscoll, Ted Haggard, Tullian Tchividjian, and Percy Noble are any guide. The pain of victims and the distrust of Willow Creek Church and the Willow Creek Association will return when Hybels returns to public ministry--likely he will repeat his claim that much has been exaggerated. Those with concerns are understandably not interested in relational reconciliation with Willow until Willow has energetically attempted to understand what has happened and repent of their part.
Willow Creek leaders issue public apologies for mishandling allegations
by Manya Brachear Pashman
June 29 and updated through July 2, 2018
Statements from Heather Larson, Steve Carter, and the Willow Creek Elders
June 30, 2018
Open Letter to Willow Creek Association Board and Tom De Vries
by me (Andy Rowell)
July 3, 2018
Resource Bibliography on Willow Creek Church Situation and Bill Hybels’ Reported Misconduct
Resource Bibliography on Willow Creek Church Situation – Part 2
July 1, 2018
I should say that I, along with everyone I know, is sad about all of this. I am however a ministry leadership professor. This blog is called Church Leadership Conversations. My fellow seminary professors, seminary students, and pastor friends are all keenly interested in this story because of how much we have learned from Willow Creek Community Church and Bill Hybels.
Note about url: I have this post repeated three times on this blog because I accidentally kept changing the url of the post when I updated the date so I have an April (2018/4), May (2018/5), and June (2018/6) links to this post. The posts are identical. Links to all three are at various places on the internet so I'm updating all three so people don't get a dead link.