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.”
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