Willow Creek Community Church’s Latest Statement and Response by Vonda Dyer, Hybels’ Victim

It is better to meet danger than to wait for it. He that is on a lee shore, and foresees a hurricane, stands out to sea and encounters a storm to avoid a shipwreck. Charles Caleb Colton

Today, Willow Creek Community Church’s elders released another statement. It is apparent that their initial statement was not cutting it. Here is the latest update.

As a Board, we have been working and praying hard over the past few weeks. We promised frequent updates on our progress and, in that spirit, I come to you now.

Since the posting of our letter to the Willow family, we continue to listen and process.

Our top priority has been reaching out to the women who have made allegations against Bill. We have talked with several of them and are deeply saddened by the experiences they are sharing with us. We do believe 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. Initially, it was stated that the stories were all lies and the individuals involved were colluding against Bill. We apologize for those sweeping statements. We do not believe the stories were all lies or that all the people were colluding against him. It takes courage for a woman to step forward and share her story, and we are doing everything we can to listen respectfully.

Based on the conversations we have had to date, we believe at least some of Bill’s choices were inappropriate. We are grieved that this situation is difficult for so many people. On behalf of the Elders, both past and present, we now see that while we have many policies in place, they did not prevent the situation we are now in. We regret that, and we are looking into what additional safeguards could be implemented in the future.

We still have work to do and we are committed to keeping you updated. We plan to provide an update every other Wednesday through the end of this 45-day period.

There continue to be online stories that reflect our processes inaccurately. We know that leaves many of you wondering why we are not responding, but we are convinced that this will not be resolved by going back and forth in a public way. This Board has made every effort to function with integrity and to address the information we have. We will continue seeking to have personal conversations, in a spirit of humility and listening, to speak directly with those who have raised concerns.

We will continue to humbly extend apologies and accept ownership where appropriate, both privately and publicly. We will continue to take steps toward understanding and toward restoring relationships. We will also continue to walk alongside Bill pastorally, and we will work closely with the WCA board to take appropriate next steps with him.

We know we need outside expertise to help, and we have already consulted with several outside experts who are guiding us with next steps. We are working on reviewing our policies and guidelines as well. Specifically, we are looking at ways we can improve our guidelines for how men and women work together, our email retention policy, and our policy on how someone can raise a concern about senior leaders.

In closing, please allow me to say a few personal words. My term as the chair of the Elder Board is up this month, and I will be passing the baton to Lane Moyer. Lane has been a part of Willow since 1988 and is beginning his 3rd year as an Elder. I will leave the seat with a heart that is broken over the grief this season has brought to so many.

Please join me in continuing to pray for everyone involved in this situation and to pray for our church. We are trusting God to redeem this situation in a way that only He can do, and we are continuing to see God work every day. We are as committed as ever to this church and to what God is doing through all of you here and around the world.

The Chicago Tribune weighs in.

The Chicago Tribune published Willow Creek elders apologize for casting doubt on women’s allegations against founder Hybels. Pam Orr, the head elder, is stepping down at the end of her tenure. I received a report by those in attendance at church on Sunday the the elders and pastors seemed subdues and somewhat depressed. No surprise here. They have a tiger by the tail.

“Based on the conversations we’ve had to date we believe at least some of Bill’s choices were inappropriate,” Orr said. “We are grieved that this situation has been difficult for so many people.”

Orr also told the congregation that her two-year term as chair of the elder board ends this month.

“I will leave this seat with a heart that is broken over the grief this season has brought to so many,” she said.

Steve Carter, the church’s teaching pastor, choked back tears as he asked the congregation to pray for the church, its elders, the women who came forward and the Hybels family.

“God, we’re thankful for the women who shared their stories,” he said. “Can I pray that they would feel seen and known and heard by us?”

Vonda Dyer responds to the WCCC statement.

Vonda Dyer, one of the victims whose story we posted here, penned her response on Facebook. Pay close attention to the persecution that Vonda has experienced since speaking out. (See highlighted section.)

People have been asking for my thoughts on the Willow Creek Community Church statement, yet again. I will post the similar response I gave to a woman in another stream.

Before I do so, I will share that I recently had leadership opportunities taken away from me at a separate event, due to the “concern that people had FOR me” regarding my coming forward to regretfully and (throw up in my mouth) fearfully admit what happened to me regarding leadership misconduct from #billhybels many years ago. It was also suggested that I stop commenting about it on social media.

I would like to say that I will not be silenced on matters of injustice, on matters of theological misuse, and when I believe that others are still being victimized.

Some would like to refer to this justice as “doing the right thing”, others refer to it as ethics, and even others refer to it as “standing on the word of God, or the gospel”. Whichever way we define it, we know that if the Spirit of the Lord is at the helm of an issue, the action taken will bring freedom and life, not just to those with the most power, the biggest PR backing, or those who wield the greatest threats. The heart of the gospel beckons the wounded to come out of hiding to be freed from the weight of injustice. Justice reveals WHAT we worship.

I’ve been in contact with an elder from Willow recently and was aware of this gesture.

Willow is fully aware of what ownership would and should look like if they were to come clean on these matters. Reaching out to me may have also been only a gesture. If it was partially well meaning, it still lacked any intention from Willow Creek to reveal what they are hiding. I have spoken my heartfelt thoughts about the chasm that lies between the allegations and Willow Creek leadership’s longstanding, inadequate investigations in my responses to this elder who reached out, and who happens to also be a 20-year friend in ministry.

As far as I can tell from their statement, they have not moved to say they believe Bill has lied.

If women are telling the truth, then Bill has lied.

If Bill has lied, they are still protecting him and themselves, and the people in response are giving all of their leaders who misled and continue to mislead this charge rousing standing ovations.

These serious allegations call for gut-wrenching, face-on-the-floor sorrow and confession, not standing ovations.

Church, have we no soul? Have we lost our theological minds?

That said,
“Loving everyone always” in the biblical definition of love means laying down self-protection (laying down one’s life) for the good of others in matters where people are wronged. I am not seeing humility, contrition, compassion, or theologically sound action taken on this complex matter, so you will have to be the judge on whether this new statement is helpful or just another generalized apology toward non-specific things.
Feels like more PR to me and less like love.

I do fully believe that the “stick” that willow creek attenders have beaten the women who have come forward with, is the same Matt 18 command that Willow leadership has NOT, themselves, followed.

This issue and many others have been brought to Bill himself, then to the elders repeatedly, then to leaders, also repeatedly, and now the church, through media (as Willow leaders still prove to be hiding what they know). Willow would not address it for 4 years and counting and still have not owned the dark underbelly of what they DO know.
This is not a “slap on the hand” dark, it is an unsurrendered kind of dark.

This is a problem friends.

We cannot force people to tell the truth in full.

Conviction or brokenness is actually the road to reconciliation and healing of injustice. This requires the perpetrators of destruction to surrender to the Holy Spirit on matters of the heart. We know that where our hearts place their confidence, our treasures are found there also.

In case anyone is throwing Matt 18 around without actually knowing its purpose in relational conflict, here it is for review.
(BTW, Matt 18 is not a mandate in abuse situations and should not be misconstrued as such. Sending a victim back to meet alone with an abuser is poor judgment at best)

Matt. 18:15-18

Dealing With Sin in the Church
15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’ 17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; ➡and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector. 👀

18 “Truly I tell you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.

This is a thing still bound up on earth.

Who will step forward in godly leadership to unbind it from within the ranks?

#maytruthrise

The Wartburg Watch is not impressed with the recent update by WCCC. It is obvious to many that WCCC is experiencing a significant loss of support from a diverse groups of former supporters. The fact they released this update and plan to make more is indicative that the know they are losing in the court of public opinion.

Bill Hybels’ reported disturbing activities appear to have taken place over decades. It is difficult for us to believe that the church leadership were in the dark for the entire time. If they were, then they were not paying attention. If they knew and covered it up to protect the ministry, they have stopped functioning as a church.

We’ve received numerous reports that it was well known that Bill Hybels and his wife had serious and significant marital problems throughout the entire existence of WCCC. If this is true then the elders should have intervened. If they didn’t intervene because they were *protecting the ministry* then they failed their church members as well as the Hybels. Hybels and his wife became a means to an end instead of beloved members of the church who needed transparency and help.

TWW stands by Vonda Dyer and the other victims of Bill Hybels. #churchtoo


Comments

Willow Creek Community Church’s Latest Statement and Response by Vonda Dyer, Hybels’ Victim — 70 Comments

  1. Thanks for pulling this together, TWW.

    Ms. Dyer is correct – one cannot have it both ways. Hybels called the testimonies of the women who came forth, “flat-out lies”. IOW, Hybels called the women “flat-out” liars.

    One cannot sympathize or be in accord with both the women and Hybels. Not possible. If that’s where WC leadership stands, then they, actually, are lying to themselves.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  2. “Even though I [a non-victim coworker] had no negative experiences with him [a predator], I thought it better to let an investigation take its course; knowing how painful this was for the women involved, I was not going to doubt those who spoke up. And I’m glad I didn’t. It’s something all of us should consider the next time there are allegations of harassment against someone we might not think capable of such behavior. We owe it to the victims, the accused, and ourselves to make sure that lending support does not cross over into taking sides and intimidating other victims.” – Linda Vester (google her name, various sources)

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  3. Ministering to Bill’s victims should be THE priority.

    Bill’s pastoral care should continue but with another ministry NOT WCCC. His days at WCCC should be over. Period.

    If the board can not SEE or understand those basic concepts they should ALL step down. In fact, For all the damage their inadequate response has been they would best serve WCCC in stepping down.

    We need the healing to start with a new board.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  4. “Since the posting of our letter to the Willow family, we continue to listen and process.”
    This stuff sounds more like Washington politics all the time. When I hear one of them say their earlier story is “inoperable” I’ll know they are former apparatchiks.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  5. JDV,

    Yes. And the more they attempt to manage it without the truth the more people see who they are. The more people see the spin the more they walk away. The full truth would be so much better and take less energy. Ah, pride….

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  6. My take – It’s all about money and protecting the ca$h cow Hybel$ and the multi-million dollar Willow Creek business entities. Past and present elders and leadership did nothing for YEARS, if not decades, and are still protecting Bill Hybels to this day. Sad. Hey elders, you can’t have it both ways – believing Bill and believing the women. COME CLEAN! Why 4+ years and possibly 4 DECADES of secrets? I’m sure the secrets would have continued had the press not gotten involved. And what about putting Heather Larson in charge? Did B.H. have an encounter with her too? Makes one wonder. All so sad. Expediency of truth is so much better then spinning a political tale that turns in to a hurricane of denials and fibs.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  7. So we see them iterating on their crisis communications plan. As a PR professional who wrote the book on this for a different megachurch, I feel like reverse engineering their statement a bit (all my own opinions of course)….. Actually you know what I went through and did it, and I’m not comfortable teaching them how to do this better. After doing the work on this for a few minutes, I’m pretty sure this was actually written by the board and only lightly edited by a professional. If I’m wrong, sorry mate. This ain’t your gig.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  8. Vonda is on point, and calling them on the matt18 nonsense and how it always seems to come apart when it comes to the end and someone is powerful or well liked.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  9. The statement from Willow was hard to read. Saying that the stories were not *all* lies makes it sound like they were mostly lies and half-truths at best. I object to the statement that Bill behaved inappropriately. No, he behaved like a skilled predator over a long period of time. Let’s not forget that there was a standing ovation at the chuch because really, it is the biblical role of the body of Christ to support and cheer on predators and enablers when they elude to their sin.

    I am waiting for the day wheb Vonda and the other women receive a genuine heartfelt apology from Willow. Any elders who covered. ill’s sin should be removed from their position.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  10. I was talking to a minister friend recently about something. He pointed out to me that we are not seeking revenge in situations, but to right that which is done wrong. I think that is the situation here. Vonda and those ladies who were abused by Bill Hybels and the like, just want to right that which is wrong. To make sure it doesn’t happen to anyone else. We want those that have done us wrong, or protected the ones who have done the deed, to make amends in what ever fashion they can do. I mean true amends. Not just lip service. But true apologies that come from the heart. From there we go one to healing of our soul. We can then forgive. But it takes time. Things that happened years ago can still haunt us in many ways.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  11. Until I read Mrs. Dyer’s statement on Matt 18 it became apparent to me that she smacked that point dead on!!!!

    Using Matt. 18 to deal with abusers is not what that scripture content was meant to be used for. I love how she articulated her point and no one could have said it better. It literally makes me want to send a copy of her statement to every elder in our former church! They abuse Matt 18 and those whom they try to use it on.

    It’s a funny thing when these churches who allow abusers to continue in ministry, they are being forced to now deal with not only the abuse but the aftermath of how they have treated the abused. It’s Christians and unbelievers who are working together to expose them. I say unbelievers meaning the media outlets who are writing about churches who have gotten away with it until now.

    It proves the point that God will not only expose your wrong doing/sin but He will use whom ever He chooses to make that happen. It’s time a lot of their shenanigans are brought to light and dealt with. It’s also becoming an example to other churches that they should be very careful when they are thinking about how to deal with abusers.

    It’s sad that it has to come down to exposing a churches (leadership) bad behavior but it’s also a blessing even to the ones committing the wrong, they are being given an opportunity to see their error’s and have a change of heart.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  12. Yes, the elder(s) did in fact fail (if all was as bad as the women wrote in their statements). Elder, B.Schmidt, was told by Julia W the horrible information in 1986, and Vonda D told BS her horrible information in 1992 and Elder Betty S did nothing with it until 2 years ago?!! WHY??? Maybe she wasn’t actually told? Or maybe the info wasn’t as horrible, but 20-30 years later it is because embellishment and now jumping on #metoo train. Something to think about……..

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  13. truthseeker: Yes, the elder(s) did in fact fail

    By putting the (s) in parentheses, specifying only former elder Schmidt, and stating the failure in the past tense, you’d like us to think the current elders might not be failing right now. One way they are failing right now is their failure to address Betty Schmidt’s 5 specific ways she claims they misrepresented her just within the last 2 months. Do they affirm or deny any of her 5 specifics? She may have done horrible things in the past by doing nothing or covering up abuse and this current failure by the current elders remains.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  14. Julie: Saying that the stories were not *all* lies makes it sound like they were mostly lies and half-truths at best.

    Not ‘all’ lies. But no clarification. No names. No specifics. Still vague enough that you can continue to think most of them are lies…

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  15. Embellish definition: to make something more attractive by adding decorative details or features — (the women’s blog posts) no video, no pictures – no proof, no eyewitnesses to say EXACTLY what happened.

    What are the odds that the two (worst) allegations against BH were told to one and the same elder, BS, some 10 years apart, supposedly. And she swore to secrecy? even though that’s going against her elder responsibility. Something just doesn’t add up here…imo

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  16. Truthseeker: What are the odds that the two (worst) allegations against BH were told to one and the same elder, BS, some 10 years apart, supposedly. And she swore to secrecy? even though that’s going against her elder responsibility. Something just doesn’t add up here…imo

    Society, including the church, is on a learning curve in regard to how iconic men with mainly women behave, privately in sharp contrast to professional public personna. Then how to deal with – almost – unbelievable duplicity. How, and when is the right time and where to go and who to involve.

    Weinstein, Cosby, Lauer, Brokaw, O’Reilly, Ailes, Kalanick, Bolling, Reid, Rose, Choudhury, Parker, Weiner, Caldbeck, Franken, Savino, Halperin, Spacey, Ratner, Oreskes, Louis C.K., Lasseter, Keillor, Simmons, Harry Thomas, and more.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  17. Willow Creek Community Church’s Latest Statement and Response by Vonda Dyer, Hybels’ Victim
    Another update from the WCCC elders. The court of public opinion is not on their side.

    Then they can play the “PERSECUTION!!!!!” Card.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  18. Willow Creek’s latest statement features a lot more of the same spin, liberally sprinkled with Christianese.

    This jumped out at me in particular:

    “I will leave the seat with a heart that is broken over the grief this season has brought to so many.”

    Oh, really, Pam? So, the “season” is what has brought grief to people. Not Hybels, and not the incompetent elders — all this grief and misery is the fault of the season that you’re in, and no fault of yours at all.

    Tell me another joke, Pam, and this time make it funny.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  19. As others and I have said before, the entire elder board needs to resign. Not only did they enable what occurred and botch the original investigation, they became PARTICIPANTS when they wrote in “unified voice” defending Bill and took the stage to stand by his side.

    There is only one way for them to individually and collectively regain their honor: resign.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  20. I continue to see much confusion surrounding the Matt. 18:18 verse. Jesus was using a common phrase of the day. The Pharisees taught that they had the power to bind and loose things in heaven by forbidding or permitting things here on earth. In the Amp bible the phrase reads thus:

    I assure you and most solemnly say to you, whatever you bind [forbid, declare to be improper and unlawful] on earth [a]shall have [already] been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose [permit, declare lawful] on earth [b]shall have [already] been loosed in heaven.

    The Catholic Church claims to have inherited this same power, as does the teachers in the Prophetic movement within the Neo-Charismatic group. However, reading it in the Amplified, Jesus appears to have performed a subtle change in the wording in the Aramaic to the original phrase. The phrase has changed, as far as I can tell, from placing the authority for change on earth and moved it into heaven. Jesus is saying that whatever men on earth bind or loose, must have already been done so in heaven first. Jesus moves the authority off of us (we are not responsible enough to handle it) and back onto God where it rightly belongs. The misunderstanding of this verse had created many Neo-Pharisees who claim power that God has never given them. 2000 years and the abuse of fellow men while claiming the authority of God continues…

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  21. Im afraid this truthseeker has little trust in the innocence of Bill Hybels at this point. I would also like to ask if anyone else sees Vonda making broad hints at something much bigger and darker than what has so far come out? How bout it, deebs? Is she hinting that there is something she wants to be asked about?

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  22. Most of the women Bill Hybels pursued – as reported so far – rejected his advances. I wonder how many other women he pursued that didn’t turn him down but don’t want the public attention of being romantically linked to Bill Hybels, especially if they are now married and have children.

    C’mon WCCC – get your act together, get the facts out there and get beyond this ASAP. Hiding, hedging, word parsing and partial explanations just keep this story going. I hope they have the guts to hire an outside investigator bc the credibility of the Elders is not what it once was.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  23. This has been weighing on my heart, and I thank God in His wisdom in protecting me, and feel this is as a safe place to share. I went to WC for 20 years starting end 80s. I so badly wanted to work there and was very qualified but was turned down every time I applied. It hurt. I was not a stick thin blonde and know I was rejected because of my looks. I knew I did not fit the “mold” of WC but applied anyway multiple times believing my qualifications and experience were good enough. I had felt “less than” when I was there. 20 years, slow learner, and felt that God, too, had rejected me. Thanks for listening.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  24. Much Afraid: Thanks for listening.

    Welcome. Thanks for sharing. Sorry for what you went through at WCC, the rejection for “looks”, which was shallow and hurtful on the part of WCC. Ungodly, really.

    Regarding WC values: “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world — the desires of the flesh, the desires of the eyes, and the pride of life — is not from the Father but from the world. The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God remains forever.…” 1 John 2: 15ff

    Regarding, slow learning, there are quite a few of us. However, thank God that He perseveres with us and we eventually get it.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  25. Julie: the elders who covered his sins

    Seems like Jesus suffered and died (The Passion) for our very real sins with confession and fruit-proven repentance, NOT for parsing words, sissy sin cover-up and phony pretense. They are pretending to play church, on stage with spineless statements.

    They pretended Hybels was OK for many years, with his flavor-of-the-week chick etc. Now they continue to pretend church and church network (didn’t they claim “most influential in the world”?) They better hope that they are not spreading their fake leadership and fake church practice everywhere. That’s a lot of confessing to do if they ever come conscience-clean.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  26. We don’t like believing that our Christian leaders/idols can fail. So, we minimize, we deny, we say it wasn’t all that bad…and the shadow of that person never seems to go away. Some will always try to defend the person, and that leads to more conflict. I have a feeling that WCC may not be here in five years if they can’t break away from Bill’s shadow. Others might even blame those who came forward with the truth for the ‘failure”, which is even worse.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  27. “Before I do so, I will share that I recently had leadership opportunities taken away from me at a separate event, due to the “concern that people had FOR me” regarding my coming forward to regretfully and (throw up in my mouth) fearfully admit what happened to me regarding leadership misconduct from #billhybels many years ago.”

    Yeah, that’s the “Christian” way to manipulate while lying to themselves that it is for the manipulated’s benefit. Disgusting.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  28. To much afraid: I went to Willow in the 90s and did some volunteer work there. It was the worst church experience I’ve ever had. Everything was surface, appearance, and PR. If your experience wasn’t good, then you were given to understand it was your problem because the church was terrific. Rah! Rah! No one ever wanted to hear about, let alone admit, there was anything ever wrong there. A huge emphasis on success, money, fame, etc.

    The leader of the first small group I was in took me aside and told me that others were complaining about me. Why? I had watched members of my family (Christians) go through terrible things, not their fault, and die. So I was asking questions about why good people go through terrible things, but others in the group only wanted to talk about how God had wanted them to have this furniture or that house or a wonderful vacation. (I am not making this up.)

    I left that group and was quieter in the next, until two more family members were suddenly in the hospital, one in a coma (brain aneurysm) and not expected to recover. That group told me to go talk to someone else. They didn’t want to hear about it. And not once in the ten years it took my mother to die did anyone from willow ever ask how she was or even offer prayer. Their whole attitude was, if bad things happen, you’re either doing something wrong or you need to learn a lesson. Cold, cold, cold.

    As for “Much Afraid” what I can say is, that I doubt you were alone. People were very much judged on appearance, money, etc, as I mentioned earlier. The church looks at the surface, not the heart. They want everything to look great, never mind the reality. The singles in my second small group told horror stories about the singles group, referring to it as a “meat market.” I do remember reading a printed interview with Hybels back in the day in which he said he urged guys to come to Willow because it was a great place to meet girls(!).

    I never heard anything about misconduct by Hybels at the time, but when I read about it, I was somehow not that surprised. (I would believe the Ortbergs and Nancy Beach over Hybels any day.)

    Leadership will never admit that anything is wrong with Willow. It is a church willfully blind about itself. They will always try to blame someone else.

    I have nothing but high regard for the women who have come forward and no regard left for the Willow Creek leaders.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  29. Truthseeker: Embellish definition: to make something more attractive by adding decorative details or features — (the women’s blog posts) no video, no pictures – no proof, no eyewitnesses to say EXACTLY what happened.

    So it’s up to you to tell us WHICH decorative details or features you believe the women likely added in (made up later) to make a story more attractive. They ARE the eyewitnesses. You think Vonda should have said “Thanks for the belly rub, boss– let me run and get my camera and I’ll get a pic for the type B leader back home”?

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  30. Much Afraid,

    Much Afraid,
    I am so sorry to hear of your story. I attended WCC in the late 80’s too and accepted Christ there. I did not know until we moved and went to another church how much that WCC culture based on appearance and wealth crept into my soul and caused damage, even in a small group I was in where my husband and I were marginalized because we were more average than perfect according to the world’s standards. But know that you are enough and God loves you so very much.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  31. Truthseeker:
    Embellish definition:to make something more attractive by adding decorative details or features — (the women’s blog posts) no video, no pictures – no proof, no eyewitnesses to say EXACTLY what happened.

    So if there are no pictures, video or eyewitnesses, then it should be dismissed AND it should be assumed that it is all embellishment? Sounds like the type of thing that WCCC would say. It plays directly into the hands of people who prey on others as the situations are specifically setup to be in the absence of witnesses.

    The problem with your position (along with the statements from Hybels and WCCC) is that there are now several women telling their own stories but significant details align. It paints a narrative where “embellish” is very unlikely.

    The other problem is the mechanics of how memory works. Strong emotion cements a memory. So when a woman is able to pull up very specific actions and words from years ago, it is because it was an emotionally charged and significant event. The odds of Bill Hybels being able to recall the same details if it was a non-event and normal thing are minimal, yet he claims to remember it all clearly.

    If anyone is “embellishing”, it isn’t the women.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  32. wondering,

    I say this with all love in Christ and admit I’m broken and in need of a savior like everyone else, but I in good conscience I cannot agree and did not agree when Bill put a woman as the of the church as I understand a man should be the head of the church as the Bible teaches the way I understand it and I know Pastor Bill did consult RC Sproul as I heard RC Sproul discuss on a podcast that Bill asked him his opinion about making a woman the head of the church and RC Sproul said he was in direct violation of what the Bible teaches for a woman should not be lead pastor or elder. I know that also is a Hot Topic and women want equal rights and I believe women have great gifts just like men but there is a fundamental difference between men and women and that’s why there’s Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts and if we as Christians continue to blur the lines between men and women society’s view is going to continue to be confused and allow Satan sexual agenda to come in as we already see and if it weren’t for God’s original view for man and woman none of us would be here we were not designed to be birthed from test tubes or surrogates. After wise counsel and prayer I attend another church but I attended Willow Creek since the Sun City days and study the Bible everyday and in the end of all this I Pray most importantly God be GLORIFIED and all involved be heard comforted loved and corrected by our heavenly father as I know he will not be mocked .

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  33. My opinion, Vonda is spot on in her comments, as is Dee. Vonda’s words below especially hit the heart of the WC Elders’ deceptions.

    “This issue and many others have been brought to Bill himself, then to the elders repeatedly, then to leaders, also repeatedly, and now the church, through media (as Willow leaders still prove to be hiding what they know). Willow would not address it for 4 years and counting and still have not owned the dark underbelly of what they DO know.
    This is not a “slap on the hand” dark, it is an unsurrendered kind of dark.”

    WCCC leadership is continuing to cast their darkness on current attenders, staff, and volunteers. The ‘dark’ is more murky with each day there no real repentance as taught by Jesus.

    For me, as an attender and volunteer of Willow since 2001, I have gone from initially defending the church to ‘seeing the light.’

    Thank you Dee, Vonda, Nancy Beech, the Ortberg’s and the many others. Asking God to forgive my judge-mental responses, and will continue to pray that Willow’s miserable leadership actions are reversed before…Dee said it best with these words:

    “Bill Hybels’ reported disturbing activities appear to have taken place over decades. It is difficult for us to believe that the church leadership were in the dark for the entire time. If they were, then they were not paying attention. If they knew and covered it up to protect the ministry, they have stopped functioning as a church.”

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  34. CJ: wise counsel

    Given how “wise counsel” has become the common denominator in all these recent scandals, it might be a good idea to avoid it…

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  35. CJ,

    This is legalism, plain and simple. The differences between men and women are not the ones that matter in church, nor do arbitrary exclusions of all women from leadership roles mirror how Jesus viewed women.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  36. Powerful words from Nancy Beach.

    Reading Vonda and Nancy’s statements, I recall a couple messages from Willow that seem relevant.

    About 8-10 years ago Bill spoke about David’s sin with Bathsheba. He described the fundamental sin that led to all the other sins during that sad episode was “abuse of power.” David refrained from going to war, was on the rooftop, took a woman not his wife and killed her husband all as an abuse of the power he had as king. Sound familiar?

    Second was a message delivered by Henry Cloud on three types of people (the Wise, Fools, and the Evil) and how to deal with them. A Google search will provide the full message, which I commend. Cloud said the Wise will respond to conversation… “Oh, I didn’t realize I had hurt/offended you. What can I/we do to resolve that and get back having a good relationship?” Fools are clueless/unable to recognize that they had a role in discord in the relationship… “What? I hurt you? What are you talking about? I didn’t do anything.” The Evil seek and enjoy the opportunity to do harm and cause pain and damage.

    The solution to dealing with a fool is consequences. “If you do that again, I will…” For Evil People, one must leverage the authority or power of the police (violence), attorneys (lawsuit) or money (to make the problem go away).

    For Bill, it seems apparent that he does not fall in the category of the Wise, as he has avoided responding to conversation for decades. See Julia Williams’s description of Bill’s response to her confrontation, as well as the “understood” he gave to Vonda when confronted by her. Similarly, neither are Willow’s elders responding as a group of wise individuals with their accusations of lying and conspiracy, followed by the more recent vaguely worded non-apology.

    As much as they are reluctant to do so, the women involved may have to raise the stakes and apply the leverage of consequences to the Fools they are dealing with. Vonda and Nancy’s responses to the “apology” is a good start. They may have to to more closely coordinate their efforts and communications. Might a defamation lawsuit be necessary to secure the attention and cooperation of the parties involved?

    Lastly, I find it interesting that Willow, Heather Larson, and Steve Carter have avoided social media posts regarding the apology. They are learning that reasonable people, like John M above, can read and think and will respond to nonsensical statements that attempt to find some middle ground that seeks resolution without a full and thorough accounting for Bill’s actions and their leadership malpractice.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  37. Vonda wrote more in one of the threads on her Facebook page. The mention of Heather Larsen and that she probably knows the truth is disturbing. Willow Creek Church will be no better off than they were with Bill Hybels if the leaders continue to cover up truth. Hope this is okay to share here:

    “Vonda Dyer Posting here from another stream.
    I understand this dilemma and confusion over the allegations and denials.
    We have similar sentiments as you about the impact of Bill in positive ways (when he was leading in the spirit) and the ministry of Willow Creek throughout the years, even to this day. (My positive comments on much of my experience at Willow we’re included in a tribute at the 40, from what I am hearing). This situation doesn’t negate the poor leadership and destructive behaviors that some have experienced from Bill for more than 30 years. This warning in the new testament about choosing to walk in the spirit is essential for us to understand how to walk in righteousness as humans who sometimes fail. We all do. It is why Christ came to die for what we could not do in our own righteousness.

    The essence of Galatians 5 is to remind us that when our behaviors become hurtful patterns, and when we see destruction around a leaders life, it is a sign of lack of surrender in certain areas that will ultimately be unhealthy for the person exhibiting the behavior and will wound those around them in its wake. It also goes against the essence of the gospel and impacts people’s perception about whether Christ actually makes a difference in people? ➡️Sexual misconduct and abuse of power surely fall in this category.
    Un-surrendered Christians look a lot like unsaved sinners, but the difference is that believers are now a “new creation (with Christ indwelling them as a resource) acting like something they are not”—even with the conscience of the Holy Spirit as their guide. God gives us free will to listen to the spirit on matters of conscience.
    A person without Christ indwelling them is not aware of sin in the same way and does not have the conscience of the Holy Spirit to guide them.
    Dependence upon Christ is utterly important in the hidden areas of our lives, so that these areas that lack submission do not take over and destroy ourselves and others.

    Heather is the sister in law of my closest friend of more than 30 years. I believe that she actually knows my story is true, and yet she has discounted my story to the Willow staff entirely and has stood WITH elders of Willow Creek on the platform to discount it to the entire church world through WCA mediums without ever even giving me a call. She knows my number. I was texting my love and prayer to her husband and family the week after the story broke, when his mother fell ill and I was praying for them. Why would she stand so firmly to support Bill’s claims that I was lying after knowing me since her college days?
    I do not know the answer to this question.

    People have tried to discount this situation by making Bill/Willow all bad OR the women who came forward all bad. We simply know that this isn’t true.

    Christ came for human beings because he knew that we could not live up to complete righteousness by the law. Therefore, Paul explains in Galatians 5 the extreme variance in behaviors that we can see from Christians within the church. One picture displays the deeds of the flesh, which are displayed when Christians act upon their own self interest and self-reliance. These actions bring ultimate destruction to all involved.
    Paul sternly warned us believers not to pick up that yoke of slavery ever again. It is in fact, slavery.
    The fruit of the spirit, born out of surrender, occurs when people rely on Christ, in every moment, to love, be faithful, have self control, and the like. He produces these things.

    People like to assume that the deeds of the flesh are a description of people without Christ. Exactly the opposite. This passage of scripture details the kind of destructive behaviors that occur when people who love Jesus do the most ungodly things. Both can be true.
    Can God use these people in spite of their destructive behaviors? Of course. You can be fighting with your wife in an ungodly way, and go to work and still be used by God in a powerful way. This is why surrender is such a big deal to God.

    Scripture also highlights that things done in the flesh, even though good, if not surrendered to the spirit, will have no bearing in heavenly terms. That can mean a lifetime of un-surrendered self-effort. To what end?
    So the question is, who is doing the work?
    We ourselves, or Christ through us?

    I don’t believe that the things that Bill has done to these women as described in the media and in their blogs, would ever be spirit led behaviors initiated by Christ, through a spiritual leader, in the church. I think that you would agree with me on this.

    God can use people to do great things while they also at the same time exhibit duplicitous and hidden behaviors. The New Testament describes why choosing this form of leadership and behavior is not of God and will not ultimately serve the church nor the people within it.

    This is a thing that cannot be controlled by legal matters, and requires the breaking of the human spirit to a deeper and more trustworthy, faithful God.

    We cannot decide this surrender for others, but when we are wounded by hidden behaviors of leaders, it highlights the problem/lack of spiritual surrender and begs a larger question when they go so far as to deny and hide it.

    Denial digs a deep hole that ultimately creates a more humbling outcomes when truth is revealed.

    Because God loves his bride and because he is sovereign, I believe that ultimately #truthwillrise

    We pray and depend on Jesus to this end.”

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  38. Thank you Thomas0555 and Julie2. Thoughtful, deep and so helpful words about WIllow Creek’s current and past leadership. Your thoughts also helped clarify my own beliefs about how critical ‘surrender’ is. Without true repentance, grace and forgiveness, and love itself, may wither.

    In the coming days, we may see how the WCA Leadership Conference and Willow Creek the Church may be damaged. Thinking of two verses:

    “Consider it pure joy, … whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.” —James 1:2-3

    And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. —Romans 8:28

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  39. A Willow response that I would welcome would be an announcement that BH is receiving inpatient therapy for sexual predator behaviors.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  40. CJ,

    Sorry for any confusion. My comments about leadership roles have nothing to do with the women who are sharing there testimonies. I hope everyone understands that. Sorry for any confusion. I was a member for over 17yrs and new of most of the ladies seeing them regularly around church service. Peace be with you all !

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  41. wondering:
    My take – It’s all about money and protecting the ca$h cow Hybel$ and the multi-million dollar Willow Creek business entities. Past and present elders and leadership did nothing for YEARS, if not decades, and are still protecting Bill Hybels to this day.Sad. Hey elders, you can’t have it both ways – believing Bill and believing the women.COME CLEAN! Why 4+ years and possibly 4 DECADES of secrets?I’m sure the secrets would have continued had the press not gotten involved. And what about putting Heather Larson in charge? Did B.H. have an encounter with her too?Makes one wonder. All so sad. Expediency of truth is so much better then spinning a political tale that turns in to a hurricane of denials and fibs.

    Regarding putting Heather in charge.
    https://www.gracechurch.org/about/distinctives/role-of-women?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  42. CJ: John is one of the most respected theologans.

    Respected by whom? I personally consider him to be one of the worst of the wolves in sheep’s clothing.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  43. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    Sorry I didn’t mean to bring John into this he is only a man as we are also. Leadership is also not a hapax legomenon either below is one of many verses. Again I come with no intent to argue just discussing openly. Peace in Christ always !

    1 Timothy 3 New Living Translation (NLT)
    Leaders in the Church
    3 This is a trustworthy saying: “If someone aspires to be a church leader,[a] he desires an honorable position.” 2 So a church leader must be a man whose life is above reproach. He must be faithful to his wife.[b] He must exercise self-control, live wisely, and have a good reputation. He must enjoy having guests in his home, and he must be able to teach. 3 He must not be a heavy drinker[c] or be violent. He must be gentle, not quarrelsome, and not love money. 4 He must manage his own family well, having children who respect and obey him. 5 For if a man cannot manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church?

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  44. People who bring serious life damaging accusations must allow questions, investigation, interrogation of their accusations. That’s what happens in a court trial in our Justice system. The Accused is afforded counsel and defense which are what the precepts of our great Justice system are built on. The burden lies with the accusers. In the court of Public Opinion everything is up for grabs. Nothing is verifiable. It the most unfair of trials. Having said that its bothersome to me (who by the way am not taking sides to a party but concerned about the process) that the accusers made their accusations via Media, blogs, FB etc…but then shut off all access to questions, scrutiny, investigation. Here’s hoping for open discussions on both sides which are fair and balanced. Otherwise the quest for Truth and Justice is in vain.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  45. Ken F (aka Tweed),

    Again I apologize for bringing John into this. Sincerely I’m surprised I don’t like any of his teachings though as you know he is calvinist just like wade Burleson from what I have read. Proverbs 27:17 iron sharpens iron as one man sharpens another. Thanks for your encouragement in advance!

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  46. Our Father loves His church. He loves His children. In Christ Jesus people’s lives don’t have to be ruined. The crisis of the church, when placed in His hands in true humility and surrender, can trigger a genuine revival in the individual life which can serve to bring revival to the whole body of Christ. When God tells stories about His people and His church in the Bible, He does not hide their sins. He deals with them as they are.

    Instead of worrying about her “reputation” in the eyes of humans (actually God’s reputation suffers too), WCCC and WCA can let God do His redeeming work during this very critical time by yielding to the Holy Spirit, so they can be transformed from inside out, to reflect God’s greater glory in the future. Then the world shall see: Christianity indeed works! Jesus Christ is real and powerful.

    1 Thessalonians 5:23-24 (NKJV)
    “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.”

    An old pastor said, “Christ in you, NOT YOU, the hope of glory!”

    There is always HOPE in our Resurrected Savior.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  47. Oe comment not allowed. TWW does not believe that Jodi’s attempt at *humor* was appropriate and we no longer will allow links to her stuff on our blog. We care about real victims. Stop playing games.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  48. I see no Christian love from this side. It’s all a me against you thing, just like is going on in the world, in politics. Nothing is ever good enough.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  49. It may not be accurate to say that “Nothing is ever good enough” for the people who had alerted the church and later the public about the reality. My understanding is that they wanted to be treated with honesty and respect, and hoped to see the leader(s) have a desire for humility, then see God’s redemption work in real lives. They have a concern for the health of the church. It’s about God’s kingdom work, not man’s work. It is not the same as the world.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  50. Seekingtruth,

    Within the church, the process of confrontation is spelled out — direct, then with others and finally before the church. But what happens when the matter is taken to the elders/church and they…

    1. Don’t hold a fair investigation
    2. Have part of the elder board resign in protest
    3. Abuse the accusers, publicly calling them liars and saying they are just colluding against an innocent person
    4. Organize a public statement of support along with a standing ovation for the offender
    5. Call for reconciliation or mutual understanding to try and skip past taking responsibility for the wrongs that have been committed

    Now the elders/church stands on the side of sin, so the entire elder board and church needs to be confronted. While it started with a few, there are now several very credible witnesses all telling the same basic story. This is about confronting sin in the hopes that it leads to repentance. Unfortunately, it is playing out in the news, blogs and social media because the church refused to deal with it internally.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  51. Katie Bennett,

    I see no Christian love from this side. It’s all a me against you thing, just like is going on in the world, in politics. Nothing is ever good enough.

    (Quote) (Reply)

    Hi Kate. Do you not feel love from the side of the web site because of comments on jodi walle statement. Sincerely just curious.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *