Steve Carter, the lead teaching pastor of megachurch Willow Creek, has issued a public apology Friday night about the church's handling of allegations of misconduct against its founder Bill Hybels. Carter, not only believe the allegations of the women, he has made apologies to several of these women.
Carter states his position clearly: "Specifically, I do not think it should have been said that the women were lying or that they were colluding against Bill and the church. I believe the women and applaud their courage."
He said he had "personally reached out to and connected with several of the victims" to hear their stories and apologize for the way they and their families have been treated.
"I recognize that I am not blameless in this," he said. "I take full responsibility for my actions that contributed to the injustice that was done to these women. I should not have been on stage for any of the family meetings, to pray or lead any part of those nights. I believe now that what our church needed initially was to practice transparency and repentance, to grieve, and to reflect on what Jesus was inviting us into and to listen to the Holy Spirit. I wish I had done more to prevent the hurtful statements that were made, and to advocate more forcefully for what I believe would have been a more humble and Biblical approach."
On March 23, 2018, the Chicago Tribune published an article detailing allegations of sexual misconduct by Hybels spanning decades. The article reported that Hybels had engaged in a prolonged affair with a married woman; however, this allegation was retracted by the woman herself. All accusations have been denied by Hybels.
Hybels had planned to retire in October 2018 to focus his energy on the Willow Creek Association. On April 10, 2018, Hybels announced that he was resigning effective immediately, stating he didn't want to be a distraction to the church's ministry. He also announced that he would leave the board of the Willow Creek Association and would no longer lead Willow Creek's Global Leadership Summit.