Chicago megachurch Willow Creek has appointed a new senior pastor, following two tumultuous years involving innumerable accusations of sexual misconduct against leaders and scores of resignations over the handling of the various allegations.
Earlier this week, the church released a video announcing the installation of a new senior pastor, Dave Dummit.
Introducing their new leader, the church wrote: "David Dummitt is an innovative, entrepreneurial pastor and leader with a strong passion to help people take first and next steps with God. He is known for his collaborative leadership style and ability to develop strong teams.
"Dave is the founding and lead pastor of 2|42 Community Church in Southeast Michigan. Over the last 15 years, 2|42 has grown from a 35-member launch team meeting in Dave’s living room to more than 10,000 people meeting at seven different campuses each weekend.
"He is passionate about the kingdom of God advancing through church planting. Dave previously held the role of North American director of NewThing, a global church-planting organization."
Dummitt said: "I'm so excited to become part of the Willow family… over these last few months we've sensed God leading us to be a part of what He's doing in and through Willow.
"I couldn't be more hopeful and on the edge of my seat for what God is going to do as we journey on mission with him together.
"We can't wait to meet you."
After allegations regarding sexual misconduct were levelled against founding pastor Bill Hybels, Willow Creek went into a tailspin. Over the course of two years, a number of senior leaders quit over the handling of the abuse. One of them was Hybels' replacement -- Pastor Steve Carter -- who resigned via a blog post in August 2018 after reading a report in the New York Times detailing the sexual misconduct perpetrated by his former mentor.
“The new facts and allegations that came to light this morning are horrifying, and my heart goes out to Ms. Baranowski and her family for the pain they have lived with,” he wrote at the time. “These most recent revelations have also compelled me to make public my decision to leave, as much as it grieves me to go.”
A few days later, Carter's co-pastor, Heather Larson, also resigned. Then, the entire board of elders threw in the towel. Since then, the church has been desperately attempting to pick up the pieces. Unfortunately, in January 2020, more sexual misconduct allegations emerged, this time against Hybels' fellow co-founder, Gilbert Bilezikian. Bilezikian denies the accusations, insisting that the church had "violated the Bible's teaching on dealing with accusations against fellow Christians."
Hybels has never formally admitted wrongdoing, nor has he engaged in a reconciliation process, despite a formal request from Willow Creek.
"We have reached out to Bill Hybels; however, he has chosen not to engage in dialogue at this time," the church elders said in July 2019.