It’s a painful tragedy, however you look at it. A most influential evangelical pastor retired early yesterday, April 10, 2018. His name was Bill Hybels, who founded the world-renowned Willow Creek Community Church in Chicagoland. There will be many conversations about this in the world of evangelicalism, but significant evangelical pastors and leaders that do participate in online conversations have not weighed in yet.
When nothing is said, people will make up their own stories. This is the elephant in the room du jour. The mainstream media and social media has said much more.
These are the statements posted by people involved in this situation (whether they were written first-person or by professional PR agents is unknown):
- Bill Hybels, church elder board, and new pastor Heather Larson (video of family meeting on April 10, 2018)
- Nancy Beach, a previous staffer at Willow
- Vonda Dyer, a previous staffer at Willow
- John Ortberg, a previous pastor at Willow
- Nancy Ortberg, a previous pastor at Willow
- Betty Schmidt, a previous elder at Willow
- Shauna Niquist’s tweet, daughter of Bill Hybels
The original Chicago Tribute story, “After years of inquiries, Willow Creek pastor denies misconduct allegations,” that broke it all.
American justice values the notion of “innocent until proven guilty.” But in this wave of #metoo and #churchtoo, it seems like allegations are coming across like, “guilty until proven innocent.” What’s going to break this stalemate?
How will this bad situation turn out for good, particular for those who believe God can redeem the worst of dark times and heal all hurts? Hurt people hurt people. Many hurts now surfaced and the Christian witness blemished.
This is a drama that is just beginning to unfold. Stay tuned. Pray hard.
[update about Willow Creek Church #metoo moment, June 30, 2018]
Scot McKnight’s conclusion http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2018/06/27/about-willow-creek-what-do-i-think/
Steve Carter’s apology statement http://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2018/06/29/thank-you-steve-carter/