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Willow Creek elders respond to new Hybels accusations

Bill Hybels (sixth from left) and leaders of Willow Creek Community Church at an April 10 church meeting Associated Press/Photo by Mark Black/Daily Herald

Willow Creek elders respond to new Hybels accusations

The elders of Willow Creek Community Church in suburban Chicago said in a letter Saturday they could have done a better job holding former Senior Pastor Bill Hybels accountable for inappropriate behavior toward women. “Bill acknowledged that he placed himself in situations that would have been far wiser to avoid,” the elders wrote. “We agree, and now recognize that we didn’t hold him accountable to specific boundaries.” A report Saturday by Christianity Today added to accusations against Hybels of pursuing intimate relationships with women he worked with or ministered to. Former Zondervan publisher Maureen Girkins told the magazine that Hybels insisted they meet alone and commented on her looks. “A good example would be the first time he saw me dressed casually,” she said. “He made a big deal of how I looked in jeans and said I needed to dress sexy more often.” A church member, Julia Williams, told Christianity Today that Hybels came up to her and stroked her thighs while she was using a weight machine at the YMCA. She said she quit going to the gym to avoid him. The accusations against Hybels became public in a report last month by the Chicago Tribune. Since then, Hybels has resigned as pastor of the church and as chairman of the board of the Willow Creek Association, and two publishers have suspended publication of his books. In Saturday’s letter, the Willow Creek elders said they would investigate every new report of inappropriate behavior and “walk alongside Bill in stewarding his season of reflection well and are committed to working together on appropriate next steps with him.”

Lynde Langdon

Lynde is a WORLD Digital's managing editor. She is a graduate of World Journalism Institute, the Missouri School of Journalism, and the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Lynde resides with her family in Wichita, Kansas.



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Deb O

Amen. "Quit ye like men."

Allen Johnson

I agree that it is best to meet with door open or with another person around. This is not always possible in the secular workplace, as I've found out. On numerous occasions in my professional career I as a man had to take a trip with a female. On some occasions these trips were overnight, staying in the same hotel (different rooms of course), and eating meals together. I recognized ahead of time the potential vulnerabilities and made my mind to make every effort to be circumspect in action and word. 
As an employer I've interviewed and hired many people, most of them female due to the line of work I administrated. Ideally I would have my office door open or at least staff near by.
I'm raising this matter because employers have power over their employees or interviewees, and this power can get in their head.  Accountabilty partners and accountabiilty measures could help. But ultimately one must understand and take to heart what Jesus says when he speaks that from within comes evil. (Mark 7:21). In today's workplaces some opposite sex people are going to be in situations together, and at least one of them must keep the situation pure.


The careful boundaries are laughed at when stated but when you do not keep the stated boundaries, again, laughter is the result. The boundaries are a one time, for all time committment;  not a situational standard.