An independent investigative group comprised of Jo Anne Lyon, general superintendent emerita of The Wesleyan Church, Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, Margaret Diddams, provost of Wheaton College and Gary Walter, former president of the Evangelical Covenant Church in Chicago has concluded their investigation into accusations of misconduct by former Willow Creek pastor Bill Hybels.
Hybels, who is now retired, was accused by several former female leaders at the Chicago megachurch of inappropriate actions over the course of several years.
After months of looking at forensic IT information and conducting interviews, the investigative team has determined the allegations against Hybels are credible.
In their report, the team wrote, “Allegations of sexually inappropriate words and actions by Bill Hybels in the context of his ministry and leadership of Willow Creek Community Church and Willow Creek Association are credible. The creditability of the allegations would have been sufficient for Willow Creek Community Church to initiate disciplinary action if Bill Hybels had continued as pastor of the church … Bill Hybels verbally and emotionally intimidated both female and male employees.”
The Independent Advisory Group (IAG) does not directly regulate the church. However, the new Willow Creek elders said in a statement, “We commit to honor and respect the work of the IAG and the entirety of their report … We commit to provide ongoing communication regarding our deliberations on this report’s findings and recommendations …We are prayerfully looking at our church culture, policies, and governance model in light of the IAG’s report in order to better honor Jesus Christ and His testimony in and through our church.”
In a statement, the elders wrote, “While we cannot change the events of the past, we grieve what has happened, ask for forgiveness, and commit ourselves to pursuing healing and reconciliation.”