On Wednesday, May 23, I was out of town coaching church leaders. I checked voicemails late afternoon, and listened to a message from one of the church elders who said she was with another elder. They said they wanted to start to rebuild trust, knowing they have made some missteps. She offered me the opportunity to have conversations with a third party, and gave me the phone number of a mediation group. This is the first time any of the church elders have reached out to me since I met with them in August of 2016 and told them my story.
The elders have said publicly that they are trying to reach out and “care for the women” involved. But what would true caring look like? In my view, this is not the time to enter into any kind of reconciliation process. That is grossly premature. As I have said in prior statements, truth finding must precede reconciliation. The narrative they are putting forward is that this is all about a “dispute” between the Willow leaders and former members that needs to be resolved. Fundamentally, that is not what this is about. It’s about an abusive pastor and church leadership who have not adequately investigated his behavior, have not named it as sin, and have failed to confront and address it, calling for consequences for Bill Hybels. If the elders want to truly care for the women, they would take steps such as these:
- Publicly retract all statements that any of the women are liars – and do so by name.
- Publicly retract that any of us (Ortbergs, Mellados, myself and others) were colluding to bring down the church and the WCA.
- Apologize for how this has been handled from the beginning.
- Do a true, thorough, third-party investigation into ALL of the allegations.
- Don’t just “walk with Bill Hybels and his family” – Call him to repentance.
I want to be clear that I do hope for reconciliation someday. But so much harder, deeper work must come first.