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Willow Creek Community Church Chicago

Willow Creek Community Church

Founder Of Willow Creek Megachurch Resigns Amid Misconduct Allegations
Willow Creek Community Church
67 Algonquin Road, South Barrington, Illinois
Pastor Dave Dummitt

Willow Creek Community Church is an American non-denominationalEvangelicalmegachurch located in the northwestern Chicago suburb of South Barrington, Illinois. It was founded on October 12, 1975 by Dave Holmbo and Bill Hybels, who was its longtime senior pastor. As of February 2020, the church averaged 18,000 attendees each weekend at seven locations, down from a high of 25,000 in 2015. Willow Creek has seven locations in the Chicago area, and their Spanish-speaking congregation, Casa de Luz, meets at the South Barrington campus.

In 2018, the church’s entire senior leadership and elder board resigned, admitting to having mishandled abuse allegations against Hybels. Steve Gillen, the longtime pastor of the church’s North Shore campus, was named interim senior pastor in August 2018. In January 2020, it was announced that Gillen would step down in March and that the two candidates who were being considered for the role of senior pastor had been “released” from the search process. Dave Dummitt became senior pastor in June 2020.

Misconduct Allegations And Resignations

On March 23, 2018, the Chicago Tribune published an article detailing allegations of sexual misconduct by former Senior Pastor Bill Hybels spanning decades, including a prolonged affair with a married woman, though this was retracted by the woman herself. The Tribune wrote that elders of Willow Creek had conducted an internal review of Hybels’ behavior which led to no findings of misconduct, leading to the resignations of at least three leaders of the Willow Creek Associations board over what they believed to be an insufficient inquiry. All accusations have been denied by Hybels.

Hybels had planned to retire in October 2018, to focus his energy on the Willow Creek Association. On April 10, 2018, Hybels announced that he was resigning effective immediately, stating he didn’t want to be a distraction to the church’s ministry. He also announced he would leave the board of the Willow Creek Association and would no longer lead Willow Creeks Global Leadership Summit.

On April 21, 2018, the Chicago Tribune and Christianity Today reported more misconduct allegations not included in the initial investigation. Church elders received reports of other unwanted sexual comments and advances by Hybels that not been previously investigated by the elder board. The elders indicated they would seek wise counsel and work with experts to investigate the allegations, developing a collaborative process.

Willow Creek Pastor Elders Step Down Admit Mishandling Allegations Against Bill Hybels

Answering critics’ calls to let new leaders shepherd northwest suburban Willow Creek Community Church, lead pastor Heather Larson and other church elders resigned Wednesday and apologized for mishandling allegations that church founder Bill Hybels engaged in improper behavior with women.

Larson and the elders announced their resignations Wednesday evening during a packed congregational meeting at the churchs South Barrington campus. Audience members applauded the elders decision. But some people audibly groaned over Larsons announcement, and one even approached the stage in protest.

It has become clear to me that this church needs a fresh start, Larson said.

This is really important, she said. Trust has been broken by leadership, and it doesnt return quickly. There is urgency to move us in a better direction.

Hybels stepped down from the helm of the megachurch in April following a Tribune investigation that revealed allegations of misconduct with women including church employees that spanned decades. Women have continued to come forward with allegations, among them Hybels former executive assistant, who told The New York Times that she was sexually harassed and fondled by the pastor for over two years in the 1980s. Hybels denied those allegations.

READ MORE: Willow Creek to launch another investigation of allegations against Bill Hybels »READ MORE: Willow Creek leadership event struggles without founder Hybels, its star »

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One Church Seven Locations

Finding a church close to home makes it easy to get connected, make new friends, and build relationships with people who live near you. With multiple locations in the Chicago area, there’s likely a Willow near you!Every Willow Creek church offers the same high-caliber teachingexperienced live at South Barrington and via high-definition video stream at regional locations. Each Willow church, led by its own lead pastor and staff, features live worship, robust programs for children and students, and plenty of volunteer opportunities where you can meet people and make a difference in your cityand your world.

Explore each location below to find the church that best fits you.

After almost a year, were so excited to open our doors for weekend services and kids and student programs. Your experience might be a little different: well be smiling with our eyes and well be spaced out in our gathering places, but were looking forward to the energy that comes when Gods people come together. Click here to learn more.

No matter which Willow you call home, you’ll find people seeking to connect with God in deeper ways and to grow in their relationshipswith Him and with one another.

Elders & Policy Governance

Willow Creek Church

Throughout the New Testament, principles of church leadership point to a central theme: plurality. We believes churches are best led with multiple leaders and good systems of accountability. Our Elder Board is a team of volunteers who provide spiritual oversight, direction, and leadership for the church. They entrust the implementation of that direction to ministry leaders and staff, under the leadership of the senior pastor. This system of organizational leadership, known as Policy Governance, allows the Elders to focus their gifts and time on their biblical mandate to lead and shepherd the church, while allowing ministry leaders the opportunity to maximize their gifts and talents as they lead their ministries and make practical decisions on how to implement and carry out the direction provided by the Elders. Learn more about our Elders and Policy Governance here.

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Willow Creek And Harvest Struggle To Move On

Its been 22 months since Bill Hybels resigned from Willow Creek Community Church, and the Chicago-area megachurchone of the biggest in the countryis still without a senior pastor.

The multisite congregation, once celebrated as a model and training ground for Christian leaders, has struggled to transition to steady leadership in the aftermathleaving the well-being of its eight locations and thousands of congregants at stake as attendance and tithes dip.

In the fallout of Hybelss departure over sexual misconduct allegations, the esteemed megachurch lost other top leaders: The churchs elders, as well as Steve Carter and Heather Larson, who were slated to be Hybelss heirs, resigned the same year. Steve Gillen, who has served as interim senior pastor since then, recently announced his plans to step down next month.

And theres no successor in sight. The new elders said in late January that after narrowing a months-long search down to two senior pastor candidates, they decided to release both and start over.

The elder board has passed its goal of naming a senior pastor by the end of 2019 but hasnt announced a public timeline for the continued search, only stating that filling this pastoral role is the top priority.

The current tumult at Willow Creek and at its greater Chicago neighbor, Harvest Bible Chapel, showcase how long lasting the effects of a fallen pastor can be.

The churchs spokeswoman declined to comment on attendance or giving trends.

Chicagos Willow Creek Community Church Purchases T2 Consoles

Chicago-based Willow Creek Community Church has purchased two Jands Vista T2 lighting consoles.

Willow Creek was named the most influential church in America by The Church Report in 2006 and has provided resources, training and encouragement to more than 11,000 like-minded member churches from 90 denominations in 45 countries.

The Church currently has five campuses across Chicagoland the main South Barrington site and regional campuses in Dupage County, McHenry County, North Shore, and Downtown Chicago whose combined weekend attendance tops 20,000.

All regional campuses receive videocast messages from South Barrington, which are hosted by an onsite campus pastor and complemented by live services mixing together drama, multi-media and contemporary music.

McHenry County campus Technical Director, Gary Melder, was looking to expand their Main Auditoriums production capabilities, so approached equipment specialists Intelligent Lighting Creations after they had been involved in a large expansion of South Barringtons technical facilities.

Although Gary wanted to upgrade to a full-scale production lighting console, he was concerned that many of the campuss lighting team, which is primarily made up of volunteers, would find some of the consoles they considered foreign and daunting.

Featuring an intuitive visual interface, innovative timeline editing function and generic fixture model, the Vista is both fast and simple to use.

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Dave Smiths Resignation Announcement:

Jackson Elliott is a Christian journalist trained at Northwestern University. He has worked at The Daily Signal, The Inlander, and The Christian Post, covering topics ranging from D.C. politics to prison ministry. His interests include the Bible, philosophy, theology, Russian literature, and Irish music.

Leading Megachurch Relies On Stornext To Move Worship Services Outside The Walls

Willow Creek Church Settles Two Sexual Abuse Lawsuits For $3 Million

Willow Creek Community Church, one of the largest churches in the United States, has an institutional mission to build life-changing communities of faith to reach the largest number of congregants.Church leaders recognized that video could extend the churchs message.

We capture all our services on video, so that we can provide a service to those unable to attend, or who want to see the message again, or to provide resources to small groups to support different activities around the church, explains Brian McAuliffe, Willow Creek Community Church CFO.

Existing Workflow No Longer up to the Task

But as the storage and workflow system aged, it became difficult to use and manage. In the old SAN, content from a service was captured on hard drives in the cameras, explains John Connolly, director of sales and marketing at Key Code Media, the integrator that helped Willow Creek. Drives had to be downloaded before editing could begin, and it could be hours after a service was over before it could be aired. Reusing content meant manually bringing back large files and extracting the portions needed.

Finding the Right Upgrade

Willow Creek decided to replace its workflow system with a new StorNext Pro Studio solution, Reach Engine digital asset management from Levels Beyond, and Telestream Pipeline and Vantage. The Willow Creek StorNext Pro Studio configuration includes StorNext data management software, 100TB of high-performance disk and StorNext AEL500 LTO Archive.

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Willow Creek Community Church Care Center

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How The Willow Creek Church Scandal Has Stunned The Evangelical World

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By Laurie Goodstein

The sudden resignation of Willow Creek Community Churchs top leaders following sexual harassment allegations against Rev. Bill Hybels, their founding pastor, has shaken evangelicals far from the churchs base in the Chicago suburbs.

There are few bigger names in the evangelical world than Mr. Hybels, and few churches more influential than Willow Creek. Christians worldwide looked to it as a model of smart leadership.

When a falling star, a literal star falls out the sky, everyone looks at it, notices it, gasps, said the Rev. Jack Graham, of Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano, Tex., who said he worried that people would view the scandal as evidence that all evangelicals were hypocrites. Yet there are millions and millions of galaxies of stars that stay in their place and keep shining.

Now some evangelicals are talking about turning Willow Creeks painful episode into a teaching moment for churches in the #MeToo era.

The considerations now are far more complex than in the 80s and 90s when showboating televangelists like Jimmy Swaggart were ensnared in sex scandals and the lesson drawn was simple: Pastors should not succumb to temptation.

The effort began at Willow Creeks main site in the Chicago suburbs on Thursday, where thousands of Christians from around the world happened to be gathered for the opening of the churchs annual Global Leadership Summit. The event started with an apology.

Another Campus Pastor Leaves Willow Creek As Church Struggles

Willow Creek Community Church

Another campus pastor is resigning from Willow Creek Community Church as the church continues to reel from the aftermath of scandal and a plan to centralize by new Senior Pastor Dave Dummitt.

Crystal Lake pastor Dave Smith announced this weekend that he is leaving his campus in May, becoming the eighth campus pastor to resign from Willow since the Bill Hybels sex abuse scandal in 2018. Hes the fifth pastor to leave since Dummitt announced the churchs plan to centralize less than six months ago.

Smith has worked for Willow Creek for over a decade. But he just assumed the campus pastor job at Crystal Lake in October 2019, following the resignation of former campus Pastor Marcus Bieschke.

According to a video posted online, Smith said he decided to leave Willow because his vision for the church clashed with Dummitts vision.

It has become apparent that Willow Crystal Lake needs a campus pastor that fully aligns with the new role description that supports our new vision and strategy for our church, Smith said.

Give a gift of $25 or more to The Roys Report this month, and you will receive a copy of Fractured Faith: Finding Your Way Back to God in an Age of Deconstruction To donate, .

In October, Dummitt made sweeping changes to centralize church operations, cutting 92 ministry positions across eight Chicago campuses.

After Smith finished speaking, his congregation quietly applauded for an extended period of time.

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How Willow Creek Church Will Reopen South Barrington Campus Next Month

  • Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington said the timing of its March 7 reopening and the protocols that have been adopted were decided in consultation with experts and after observing similarly sized churches that have already reopened.Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington has set March 7 as its reopening date for worship services and children’s programs since it shut down because of COVID-19 nearly a year ago.Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • For Willow Creek Community Church South Barrington Campus Pastor Shawn Williams, who came to the church during the pandemic and is “pastoring a congregation I’ve never met,” the March 7 reopening is “what I’ve been longing to do for the past six months.”Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Willow Creek Community Church will reopen the doors of its sprawling South Barrington campus for worship services and children’s programs Sunday, March 7, for the first time since the pandemic began.

The facility will implement new and existing COVID-19 protocols to ensure the gatherings are safe, officials said. These include a mask requirement for every person at least 2 years old and 25% capacity for each venue within the building.

For South Barrington Campus Pastor Shawn Williams, who came to the church during the pandemic, the ability to meet in person promises a superior experience for congregation members that goes beyond the music and teaching that have been available virtually.

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