Multiple women who worked with Bill Hybels, founder of the Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois, accused him of "inappropriate behavior" which led to his resignation. Hybels announced his resignation effective immediately during a “family meeting” with about 1,000 members of the South Barrington church. This was not his original plan, because he planned to retire later this year. Bill Hybels, co-founded the Willow Creek Community Church with his wife in 1975, and it became one of the largest churches in 1975. He was also spiritual advisor to former President Bill Clinton around the time of the POTUS’ sex scandal with Monica Lewinski.
According to Washington post, the Chicago Tribune published allegations that Hybels made suggestive comments, extended hugs, an unwanted kiss and invitations to a staff member to hotel rooms. The newspaper also reported allegations of a consensual affair with a married woman, and the woman who said she had an affair later retracted her allegations. Hybels has denied all the allegations and said on Tuesday again that the church’s investigations found no evidence of misconduct. However, he told his congregation he felt attacked and wished he had responded differently. “I apologize to you, my church, for a response that was defensive instead of one that invited conversation and learning,” he said. Hybels also claimed that former colleagues of his were conspiring against him.
After the Chicago Tribune report, Hybels answered questions at the church and vowed to fight back against the charges, but he decided to resign because the allegations have distracted leaders of his church. As Patheos reports, he received a standing ovation from the congregation. Betty Schmidt, the longtime elder at Willow Creek who has criticized how the church has handled allegations against Hybels, said that she was saddened but not surprised by tonight’s event. She was disappointed that Hybels made no specific mention of people he has hurt or specific things he did wrong. It was all too general, she said.
In his address to his church, Hybels said he would also leave the board of the Willow Creek Association, a network of thousands of churches around the world, and he will no longer lead Willow Creek’s Global Leadership Summit, an annual event that draws popular speakers and authors.
It remains unclear what is the impact of his resignation to the investigation of claims against him. Yes, he resigned, but if he behaved inappropriately he should also accept the consequences of his misconduct. The church conducted its own internal review and, as it could be expected, they found no evidence of misconduct by Hybels.
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