Resource Bibliography on Willow Creek Church Situation and Bill Hybels’ Reported Misconduct

These links were initially posted on Twitter by brad/futuristguy. Tentatively, both that thread and this post will be updated with additional links as the situation unfolds.

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Thread Introduction and Twitter Handles

This thread includes statements by and about Willow Creek Church and the reported misconduct of Bill Hybels. These were posted by key individuals and organizations in the situation, and in news articles from the Chicago Tribune, which broke the story.

It also includes critical analysis from other sources — survivor bloggers primarily — also showing reactions and commentary from survivors of spiritual abuse and/or sexual abuse/harassment/violence.

Initial entries are in chronological order; more may be added as the situation unfolds.

Movements to Spotlight and Counteract Abuse



Willow Creek Organizations and People Associated with Them

. Willow Creek Community Church/Willow Creek Church.

. Willow Creek Association – Global Leadership Summit.

@NancyLBeach. Nancy Beach. former staff member at Willow Creek Church as their first female teaching pastor, and served on the board of Willow Creek Association.

@Chelseaker. Vonda Dyer, former employee of Willow Creek Church.

. John Ortberg, former staff member at Willow Creek Church.

Chicago Tribune and Reporters on Willow Creek

@chicagotribune. Chicago Tribune.

@TribSeeker. Manya Brachear Pashman, reporter for Chicago Tribune.

@jeffcoen. Jeff Coen, reporter for Chicago Tribune.

Other Bloggers and Tweeters

@carlygelsinger. Carly Gelsinger, writer at Unfundamentalists.

. Andrew Jones, writer at TallSkinnyKiwi.

. Dee Parsons, writer at The Wartburg Watch.

@futuristguy. Brad Sargent, writer at Futuristguy.

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Blog Posts and Twitter Threads (Chronological)

NOTE: Numbers followed by a slash at the beginning of a line refer to order of entries in the initial Twitter thread of two introductory tweets and 20 items/links, posted by brad/futuristguy on April 12, 2018.

1/ After years of inquiries, Willow Creek pastor denies misconduct allegations.” March 23, 2018. Chicago Tribune article #1, by Manya Brachear Pashman and Jeff Coen. Details from accounts of Vonda Dyer, Nancy Beach, Leanne Mellado, John and Nancy Ortberg, others.

2/ Willow Creek congregation comes together to support pastor accused of misconduct, cleared in inquiries.” March 25, 2018. Chicago Tribune article #2, by Manya Brachear Pashman.

3/ Bill Hybels Of Willow Creek Accused of Sexual Misconduct: Why I Believe There Is a Problem.” March 26, 2018. Dee Parsons. The Wartburg Watch “survivor blog” covers a wide range of situations. Articles often draw 100s of comments.

4/ Willow Creek and Bill Hybels on Twitter.” March 30, 2018. Andrew Jones, pioneer blogger (20 years) and missional minister. Focuses on Twitter giving voices to women in this situation. Updated on how this plays out on social media.

5/ Observations on the Chicago Tribune article re: Willow Creek Leadership.” April 2, 2018. John Ortberg is a former staff member at Willow Creek Church. He addresses lack of independence in the investigation, and concern for victims.

6/ Breaking: John Ortberg Responds to the Willow Creek/Bill Hybels Situation.” April 2, 2018. Dee Parsons. Summary of Mr Ortberg’s statement, plus analysis and community comments.

7/ Willow Creek Response: Frequently Asked Questions.” Early April 2018. This series of 37 FAQs covers 3 general questions, and the rest are grouped in chronological Phases of Willow Creek’s responses to allegations, from April 2014 to March 2018.

8/ Did Willow Creek Community Church Really Have an Independent Investigation? April 4, 2018. Dee Parsons. Independent investigations into reported abuse/misconduct have been a key issue in survivor communities like The Wartburg Watch.

9/ Vonda Dyer’s Statement re: Chicago Tribune and Bill Hybels.” April 8, 2018. Vonda Dyer is a former employee of Willow Creek Church, and one of the women who reported misconduct as first detailed in the initial Chicago Tribute article.

10/ Was Vonda Dyer Fired From Her Position at Willow Creek Because She Confronted Bill Hybels? #churchtoo.” April 9, 2018. Dee Parsons.

11/ Statement from Betty Schmidt: Shining the Light on the Truth.” April 10, 2018. Betty Schmidt is a former elder at Willow Creek Church. She corrects 5 false statements she says were made about her in Willow Creek’s FAQ point #13.

12/ Update: Hybels Out! Betty Schmidt, Former Elder at Willow Creek, Says Current Elder Board Mishandled Her Testimony. Will Bill Hybels Resign Tonight? April 10, 2018. Dee Parsons. Includes Dee’s prediction of essence of Bill Hybels’ resignation speech.

13/ Willow Creek Announcement,” with statement from Bill Hybels regarding his immediate resignation, remarks by Pam Orr on behalf of their elder board, and statement from executive pastor Heather Larson. April 10, 2018, on Willow Creek Church’s website.

14/ Regarding Willow Creek and Bill Hybels’ resignation.” April 10, 2018. Brad Sargent. Twitter thread, My own reflections on problematic issues, written immediately after watching Willow Creek family meeting in which Mr Hybels resigned.

15/ Hybels steps down from Willow Creek following allegations of misconduct.” April 11, 2018. Chicago Tribune article #3, by Manya Brachear Pashman and Jeff Coen.

16/ Why We Can’t Move On.” April 11, 2018. Nancy Beach was Willow Creek Church’s first female teaching pastor. She addresses 2 unresolved issues that hinder healing/reconciliation, and gives 3 ways to help sustain constructive movement.

17/ Nancy Beach Responds to Bill Hybels’ Resignation: Why We Can’t Move On.” April 11, 2018. Dee Parsons. Summarizes Ms Beach’s response, and urges Willow Creek members/friends to learn from this. [Some of them have posted comments on TWW.]

18/ 9 Responses to the Willow Creek Accusations That Reveal Everything Wrong with Evangelicalism.” April 11, 2018. Carly Gelsinger. Screenshots of social media responses to situation and analysis on how these perpetuate secrecy systems.

19/ After Hybels resigns at Willow Creek, some say they wanted to see more contrition.” April 12, 2018. Chicago Tribune article #4, by Manya Brachear Pashman and Jeff Coen.

20/ Flawed Process, Wounded Women.” April 12, 2018. Nancy Ortberg served on the board of Willow Creek Association and staff at Willow Creek Church. She addresses concerns about “the process and church governance that brought us all to this point.”

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The following entries were added after the initial Twitter thread of 20 items was posted. They are still numbered for easier reference in that thread.

21/ Nancy Ortberg Claims She Endured an Unwanted Physical Encounter with Bill Hybels and Raises Some Serious Questions About His Behavior.” April 12, 2018. Dee Parsons. This post summarizes some points from Ms Ortberg’s post (see #20 above) and then ties in other issues and testimonies.

22/ Two publishers suspend publication of books by megachurch pastor Hybels in wake of misconduct allegations.” April 13, 2018. Chicago Tribune article #5, by Manya Brachear Pashman. Tyndale House Publishers is suspending publication of a forthcoming new book from Bill Hybels, and InterVarsity Press is suspending reprint of one of his books. His third publisher, Zondervan, has not yet responded to inquiries.

23/ VIDEOS. Brandy Betts’ YouTube channel has posted a series of videos from Willow Creek responses to the unfolding situation with Bill Hybels. Each video is labeled with the date Willow Creek presented it, along with a short description of the particular context for that video. Currently available:

  • 03-23-18 WC Response to CT Re: BH Allegations Part 1
  • 03-23-18 WC Response to CT Re: BH Allegations Part 2
  • 03-26-18 WC Response to CT Re: BH Allegations
  • 04-10-18 Willow Creek Bill Hybels Early Retirement Mtg
  • 04-10-18 WGN News Story Re: Bill Hybels’ Retirement

24/ Willow Creek Elders Send Letter to Church Members: Are They Starting to Realize They Have a Problem? April 21, 2018. Dee Parsons. This post includes “a letter from the Elders” of Willow Creek Church from April 20th, sharing issues they’ve realized they fell short on earlier, and their plan to “resolve any shadow of doubt in the trustworthiness” of the church.

25/ Willow Creek Promises Investigation Amid New Allegations Against Bill Hybels. April 21, 2018. Bob Smietana.

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.

Their accounts follow similar patterns: that Hybels pressured women into spending time alone with him.

26/ Willow Creek elders will renew inquiry into Hybels as more allegations of misconduct surface. April 21, 2018. Chicago Tribune article #6, by Manya Brachear Pashman and Jeff Coen. Summarizes April 20th letter from WCCC Elders, new allegations, and continuing fallout that includes cancellation of book publishing for Bill Hybels and changes in speakers for the upcoming Global Leadership Summit.

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The following are select posts that offer important analysis/responses on lessons to learn from the situation at Willow Creek. They have not been added to the numbered Twitter thread.

Bill Hybels, Willow Creek and Truth, by Ray Carroll. April 16, 2018. The Aquila Report. Expands upon three essential lessons from the problems embodied in this situation:

  • External checks are not enough to prevent failure or accusations of failure.
  • Before the first hint of moral failure arrives, your church must have a plan in place.
  • Take every accusation seriously and create an environment where people who feel threatened are comfortable reporting their issues.


7 comments on “Resource Bibliography on Willow Creek Church Situation and Bill Hybels’ Reported Misconduct

  1. Pingback: Some Thoughts on Supposedly Feminist Men Who Reportedly Abuse/Harass Women | futuristguy

  2. I didn’t do a thing, Andrew. I just got home from school and, voila!, I see Brad’s amazing work! Thank you, Brad! It looks great. What a shame there is a need to compile resources like this, but it is what it is, and we’ll keep doing our thang, blogging and compiling, as needed.


  3. Pingback: Resource Bibliography on Willow Creek Church Situation and Bill Hybels’ Reported Misconduct | Speakingtruthinlove's Blog

  4. Thanks … when situations like this have major developments, I compile posts like this so I can easily find the links to official statements, news, and analysis. Otherwise, I tend to lose track of the chronology of what happened. So, voila indeed — glad it’s of use. B-

    Liked by 1 person

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