In a congregational meeting last Friday night, Hybels denied all allegations. The Tribune reports:
The congregation of northwestern suburban Willow Creek Community Church gave the Rev. Bill Hybels standing ovations this weekend after he addressed allegations of improper behavior with women reported Thursday in the Chicago Tribune.
During worship services and a two-hour gathering Friday that the church called a “family meeting,” Hybels and elders walked members through three inquiries overseen by elders over the last four years, all of which cleared Hybels of misconduct.
Hybels rebutted additional allegations reported in the Tribune. Pam Orr, the church’s highest-ranking elder, told the congregation at the family meeting that the elders would decide together how to address those claims.
“The accusations you hear in the Tribune are just flat-out lies,” Hybels told a packed sanctuary Friday night. He said he’s not sure he will be able to repair the strained relationships with former leaders who are pushing for more scrutiny.
Hybels, who has said since May 2012 that he would step down in October of this year, said he still intends to stay until his planned exit.
“I was not afraid to come to this meeting tonight,” he said Friday. “I know the heart of this church. I knew that you would give all of us an even hearing. You wouldn’t rush to judgment.
“I will do my level best if you allow me to continue to serve here until October when I will retire,” he said, bringing the audience to its feet with applause. “I’m going to serve my heart out.”
Read the rest here.
A few people who I respect weighed-in on my Facebook page:
Here is a historian who is a Christian: “John you write frequently about the importance of historical thinking – any historian worth his or her salt would weigh the “primary sources” here and have a hard time finding Hybels to be completely credible…”
A Christian journalist says something similar: “What motive would the Ortbergs have for trying to bring down Hybels?”
We will see how this unfolds. I am actually waiting to hear Scot McKnight on this issue. I believe he is a longtime attendee of Willow Creek. (Perhaps he has already commented and I missed it).