CHICAGO (CBS) — A major apology from a suburban megachurch.
Founding Pastor Bill Hybels stepped down recently amid accusations of misconduct with women.
Now the church is saying sorry for not taking those women’s claims seriously.
CBS 2’s Vince Gerasole has more on the apology letter church leaders wrote to their members.
Since the scandal broke worship at Willow Creek Community Church has gone on. And apparently so has the soul searching.
“We do believe that we owe these women some apologies,” said Willow Creek Elder Board member Pam Orr.
At services Wednesday night, board elders publicly reviewed their initial reactions, when former Pastor Bill Hybels was accused by several women of unwanted kisses, suggestive comments and invitations to hotel rooms.
“The tone of our first response had too much emphasis on defending Bill, and cast some of the women in an unfair and negative light. We are sorry,” said Orr.
Jamie Vallejo is a Willow Creeks worshiper. As a Christian she’s comforted by the news elders have since taken time to meet with some of Hybels’ accusers.
“It takes a lot to do that, to say that they are wrong,” said Vallejo. “I really respect the elders for coming forth and really opening up their hearts and minds to hearing the women’s perspective,” she added.
Hybels, founder of the 25,000 member megachurch, resigned last month insisting the accusations were unfounded.
Now the elders who stood by his side want the faithful to know they’ve reexamined their actions.
“It takes courage for a woman to step forward and share her story and we are doing everything we can to listen,” said Orr.
Church elders went on to acknowledge the grief the situation brought to many members of congregation.
They also say they are continuing to work with Hybels pastorally as they all try to heal.