“If you ignore the red flags, embrace the heartache to come.” ― Amanda Mosher
I am still sitting in my board meeting. However, this new article, Willow Creek Promises Investigation Amid New Allegations Against Bill Hybels just appeared at Christianity Today. More women are coming forward with accusations of inappropriate encounters with Bill Hybels.
Here ar some highlights from the article.
- On three occasions, Hybels offered to do interviews with CT about the allegations. All three times he backed out.
- So far, at least seven women have accused Hybels of improper conduct and abuse of power. They include the first woman teaching pastor at Willow Creek, a former worship leader, several former staffers, two church members, and the former head of a prominent evangelical publisher. One other woman accused him of an affair—then recanted that claim.
- Maureen “Moe” Girkins, former president of Zondervan, a major evangelical publisher, told CT that Hybels made no overt sexual advances towards her, but spoke in sexually inappropriate ways and pressured her to meet him alone outside their professional relationship.
- (Julia Williams) loved the church. And she knew something was wrong with the way Hybels interacted with her.“I remember feeling that God was saying, ‘This is not OK,’ ” she said.The worst moment came when she was on a leg extension weight machine at the Y and Hybels surprised her by walking up to her.“He put his two hands on my thighs—started at my knees and rubbed up and down a couple of times,” she told CT. “I remember jumping off and we just started running. It was extremely uncomfortable. And obviously very inappropriate.”
- (Ed. This story appears to demonstrate a pattern to Hybles behavior that has been discussed before.)
The woman—who requested anonymity due to her employment situation—said she met Hybels at a conference for youth pastors in the mid-1980s near Mount Shasta in California.Hybels came up to the pool and began talking to her. He was charming and funny, she said. They eventually went on a run together to a nearby dam.After the run, he asked her up to his room to watch a movie. She says that his attention was flattering. Even then, Hybels was a big deal. And she thought he was trustworthy.Before long, she said, they were sitting on his bed, having a long conversation as the movie played. Hybels allegedly talked about all the pressure he was under while building the church and raising a family.She remembers him saying that her boyfriend was not good for her and that she had great leadership potential.“He told me he could get me a job at Willow Creek,” she said.At some point, he started rubbing her feet.There was no sexual activity, she told CT. Once she left, she never heard from him again.
Willow Creek told CT that the church was aware that Bill Hybels and his wife Lynne held one-on-one meetings at their home. The church did not have a policy banning or approving of such meetings. They called such meetings “rare.”
The church also allowed Hybels to book suites while traveling, so that he could hold private meetings with staff. He admitted in a church meeting that he’d often have staff members stay behind to talk.
There is much, much more in the story, including an assessment by Ross Peterson, who is a counselor who works with troubled pastors.
Folks, do you see a pattern of behavior emerging?