On Wednesday, I asked Willow Creek Association how many churches had dropped out of their Global Leadership Summit due to allegations of sexual harassment against Bill Hybels. Two days later, WCA answered the question in the Christian Post yesterday saying 111 host sites dropped out as a “direct result of sexual misconduct allegations” which led to Bill Hybels’ resignation from Willow Creek Church and related ministries.
In contrast to more confident comments made to the Daily Herald in early July by WCA president and CEO Tom DeVries, WCA’s statement yesterday said attendance will be affected. According to the July 2 report, DeVries said that attendance was not expected to suffer due to the controversy over Hybels.
Yesterday, I demonstrated how in Jaunary of this year WCA had advertised 700 host locations for the simulcast of the GLS. Currently, WCA is advertising 600 plus on the front page of the conference website and “over 500 locations” on their location search page. However, the actual number has fluctuated between 494-497 during the past week. Thus, it appears the drop in venues is over 200 venues (almost 29%) since the beginning of the year. Perhaps some have dropped out without giving a reason or for reasons other than the Hybels’ controversy.
Some church leaders have declined to issue a detailed statement simply saying they want to pause their involvement due to the allegations. Others, such as the Vineyard in Cincinnati have posted statements on their website. Here is the opening part of the Vineyard’s statement:
Many of you know that we have been a host site for Willow Creek’s Global Leadership Summit for 14 years. Some of you may have heard that the pastor of Willow Creek Church, Bill Hybels, has recently resigned amid allegations of misconduct with women perpetrated over many years. (See CHRISTIANITY TODAY ARTICLES)
After much thought and prayer, we have decided that Vineyard Cincinnati Church will not be a host site of the Global Leadership Summit this year.
We are reminded from Scripture that God calls us to defend the vulnerable — the orphan, the widow, the oppressed and those who suffer under the misuse of power.
In short, God cares deeply how those who possess power use that power. We pray that women everywhere who have suffered would see that God’s people stand with them and love them and care for them.
If you are associated with a church/venue which has canceled and have a comment please get in touch with me. Likewise, if you are associated with a church/venue and plan to go ahead with the event, let me know why you are doing so.
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Photo: By Ianphilpot at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18726346