Magazine article The Christian Century

Bill Hybels

Magazine article The Christian Century

Bill Hybels

Article excerpt

Bill Hybels, cofounder of Willow Creek Community Church in suburban Chicago, one of the nation's largest megachurches, has been investigated because of allegations of inappropriate behavior with women in his congregation and on its staff.

Those inquiries cleared Hybels. He and the church elders posted statements denying the allegations on the Willow Creek website after the Chicago Tribune published a report in late March.

The report included accounts that were the subject of those inquiries, as well as others that women recounted to the Tribune, including the following:

* Vonda Dyer, a former director of vocal ministry at Willow Creek, said Hybels called her to his hotel suite on a trip to Sweden in 1998, where he made comments about her appearance, kissed her, and suggested they could lead Willow Creek together.

* Nancy Beach, the church's first female teaching pastor, said Hybels asked her to extend a European trip in 1999 to coach a church in Spain. While there, he invited her to long dinners; commented on her arms, which he called her most attractive body part; confided he was unhappy in his marriage; and invited her to his hotel room for a glass of wine and an uncomfortably long hug.

* Leanne Mellado said she alerted church elders and former teaching pastors John and Nancy Ortberg when a friend told her in 2013 she had had a consensual affair with Hybels, including intimate email and oral sex. The unnamed woman later denied it when contacted by an elder.

Unsatisfied with elders' investigation into the allegations shared with Mellado, Nancy Ortberg, who was a member of the Willow Creek Association board, and other board members pushed for an independent investigation, according to the Tribune. …

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