Willow Creek elders apologize for casting doubt on women’s allegations
The highest-ranking elder of northwest suburban Willow Creek Community Church told the congregation Wednesday that elders owe apologies to women who made allegations of misconduct against church founder Bill Hybels.
Pam Orr, the outgoing chair of the church’s elder board, said it has been the elders’ “top priority” to reach out to women who have come forward with allegations of inappropriate behavior.
“We have talked to several of them and are deeply saddened by the experiences they are sharing with us,” Orr told the congregation during a midweek worship service. “We do believe that we owe these women some apologies. The tone of our first response had too much emphasis on defending Bill and cast some of the women in an unfair and negative light. We are sorry.”
In a reversal, Orr also apologized for initial statements that called the allegations lies and castigated former senior leaders of the church who called for a more robust investigation.
“We do not believe that the stories were all lies,” she said.
Hybels stepped down from the helm of the South Barrington megachurch last month following a Chicago Tribune investigation that revealed allegations of misconduct with women — including church employees — that ran afoul of church teachings and spanned decades.
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