(Leonardo Blair – Christian Post) Two weeks after Willow Creek Community Church’s elder board apologized for initially brushing off several women’s sexual misconduct accusations against founder Bill Hybels as lies, some of the pastor’s most vocal accusers have rejected an independent conciliation effort offered by the megachurch as an olive branch.
“The elders have said publicly that they are trying to reach out and ‘care for the women’ involved. But what would true caring look like? In my view, this is not the time to enter into any kind of reconciliation process. That is grossly premature. As I have said in prior statements, truth finding must precede reconciliation,” Nancy Beach, Willow Creek Community Church’s first female teaching pastor, wrote in part in a blog post on Friday.
“The narrative they are putting forward is that this is all about a ‘dispute’ between the Willow leaders and former members that needs to be resolved. Fundamentally, that is not what this is about. It’s about an abusive pastor and church leadership who have not adequately investigated his behavior, have not named it as sin, and have failed to confront and address it, calling for consequences for Bill Hybels,” added Beach, who had reported Hybels to elders in August 2016, for inappropriate conversations and a hug during a trip to Spain.
Hybels was forced to resign as lead pastor at Willow Creek Community Church on April 10, after an extensive investigation published by the Chicago Tribune in March. Hybels denied a number of the sexual misconduct allegations against him, which include a consensual affair with a married woman, who retracted her claims. The Tribune report also alleged a pattern of behavior against Hybels that includes suggestive comments, extended hugs, an unwanted kiss, and invitations to some of the women to hotel rooms. Initial investigations commissioned by the church, however, could not substantiate the allegations and the church’s leadership staunchly defended Hybels.
In an about-face earlier this month, however, Pam Orr, former chair of the church’s elder board, apologized to Hybels’ accusers and said after listening to some of them, “we do not believe the stories were all lies.”
Beach’s reaction came just two days after Lane Moyer, the new chairman of Willow Creek’s elder board, announced that the church had hired Crossroads Resolution Group to “serve as an independent, neutral third party to listen to the women involved and discuss with each of them their requests and desired process outcomes.”
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