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Author Topic: Why The ECC Investigation is Worse than Willow Creek’s Very Bad Investigation  (Read 22962 times)
DarthVader
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« on: April 20, 2018, 10:50:42 am »

Willow Creek’s Board of Elders recently completed an investigation of Bill Hybels concerning multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. It was structured identically to the ECC investigation. The Willow Creek Church hired an attorney (Jeffery Fowler) with a background very similar to Joan Harris’ background to complete the “independent” investigation. What were the results of this “independent” investigation?

Three members of the Willow Creek Association Board resigned in protest that the investigation as structured by the Willow Creek Church Board was NOT independent. Including – Jon Wallace (President, Azuza Pacific University), Kara Powell (Professor, Fuller Seminary, Executive Director Fuller Youth Institute), Nancy Ortberg (Willow Creek Pastor, 13 years,  CEO, Transforming the Bay with Christ)

*Multiple victims chose NOT to participate citing concerns over the independence of the investigation (sound familiar?)
*Shortly after the “independent” investigation “cleared” Bill Hybels, those victims who did not participate shared their stories in the media.
*Bill Hybels then accelerated his planned retirement scheduled for October to immediately.

So when you see ECC supporters cast stones at the victims for chosing not to participate in the ECC investigation, realize these victims are in good company, including the president of a Christian university, a respected seminary professor, a teaching pastor at Willow..They all saw an attorney hired by a church board as not independent and felt strongly enough about it to resign from their Association Board roles.  I don’t think anyone (including Bill Hybles, although he was "cleared") would call the Willow Creek investigation a success in any way..And the sad thing is, as bad as it was, the ECC investigation is worse:

1. At least the Willow Creek Board isn’t anonymous – everyone knows who is on it and, however bad their process was (as revealed by the outcomes above) they put themselves out there (google Willow Creek Board).  The ECC BOT is in hiding and unaccountable. Have the courage of your convictions, whatever they are to face the Church with your decisions and your process without hiding behind anonymity.
2. At least the Willow Creek Board was NOT hand-picked by the pastor(s) under investigation – they have congregational input and a completely transparent process for selection (selection process -also on their website)
3. The Willow Creek Board has ONE staff member of 9, not THREE staff members of 8 (yes, I know for the investigation it is technically 2)
 
How does ECC expect me to continue to contribute financially to a ministry whose oversight is a mystery? Isn't transparency a basic principal of good governance? Isn't knowing who is on an oversight Board a (very) basic requirement of transparency? I called out what I felt was bad behavior on the part of Suzanne on another thread.  DLM, GTA, others, don't you think our church members have a right - if nothing else - to know who is on the Board of our/their church? If the church is "protecting" the Board, does that give lie to the idea that the Board oversees the church and is independent enough to oversee this investigation?  If the Board is protecting themselves with anonymity, does that mean they fear accountability?
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Rebel in a Good Way
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« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2018, 09:43:50 pm »

https://www.willowcreek.org/en/blogs/south-barrington/elder-letter

It looks like they are attempting a "do-over"
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DarthVader
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« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2018, 09:56:26 pm »

Thanks so much for sharing this Rebel...this line below from the Willow Creek Board should be a touchstone for our BOT (but it probably won't be)

"In hindsight, we wish we would have worked harder to collaborate with all parties that were impacted to bring clarity and reconciliation when accusations were first made. While attempts were made, we could have done more"
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AgathaL'Orange
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« Reply #3 on: April 21, 2018, 10:18:30 pm »

Thank you for sharing!  This is fantastic news.


I agree Darth Vader!  That line stood out to me as well.
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araignee19
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« Reply #4 on: April 22, 2018, 07:24:49 am »

"2. We will examine allegations against Bill that have not been previously investigated by the Elder Board. We will respectfully reach out to each woman who has made an accusation, even if she has not brought her concerns directly to the Board. We commit that each woman willing to speak with us will be heard, and that we will respect her story."

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Janet Easson Martin
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« Reply #5 on: April 22, 2018, 10:10:35 am »

Willow Creek’s Board of Elders recently completed an investigation of Bill Hybels concerning multiple allegations of sexual misconduct. It was structured identically to the ECC investigation. The Willow Creek Church hired an attorney (Jeffery Fowler) with a background very similar to Joan Harris’ background to complete the “independent” investigation. What were the results of this “independent” investigation?

Three members of the Willow Creek Association Board resigned in protest that the investigation as structured by the Willow Creek Church Board was NOT independent. Including – Jon Wallace (President, Azuza Pacific University), Kara Powell (Professor, Fuller Seminary, Executive Director Fuller Youth Institute), Nancy Ortberg (Willow Creek Pastor, 13 years,  CEO, Transforming the Bay with Christ)

*Multiple victims chose NOT to participate citing concerns over the independence of the investigation (sound familiar?)
*Shortly after the “independent” investigation “cleared” Bill Hybels, those victims who did not participate shared their stories in the media.
*Bill Hybels then accelerated his planned retirement scheduled for October to immediately.

So when you see ECC supporters cast stones at the victims for chosing not to participate in the ECC investigation, realize these victims are in good company, including the president of a Christian university, a respected seminary professor, a teaching pastor at Willow..They all saw an attorney hired by a church board as not independent and felt strongly enough about it to resign from their Association Board roles.  I don’t think anyone (including Bill Hybles, although he was "cleared") would call the Willow Creek investigation a success in any way..And the sad thing is, as bad as it was, the ECC investigation is worse:

1. At least the Willow Creek Board isn’t anonymous – everyone knows who is on it and, however bad their process was (as revealed by the outcomes above) they put themselves out there (google Willow Creek Board).  The ECC BOT is in hiding and unaccountable. Have the courage of your convictions, whatever they are to face the Church with your decisions and your process without hiding behind anonymity.
2. At least the Willow Creek Board was NOT hand-picked by the pastor(s) under investigation – they have congregational input and a completely transparent process for selection (selection process -also on their website)
3. The Willow Creek Board has ONE staff member of 9, not THREE staff members of 8 (yes, I know for the investigation it is technically 2)
  
How does ECC expect me to continue to contribute financially to a ministry whose oversight is a mystery? Isn't transparency a basic principal of good governance? Isn't knowing who is on an oversight Board a (very) basic requirement of transparency? I called out what I felt was bad behavior on the part of Suzanne on another thread.  DLM, GTA, others, don't you think our church members have a right - if nothing else - to know who is on the Board of our/their church? If the church is "protecting" the Board, does that give lie to the idea that the Board oversees the church and is independent enough to oversee this investigation?  If the Board is protecting themselves with anonymity, does that mean they fear accountability?



THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR FACTUAL AND HONEST POST, DarthVader!  It is VERY helpful to all reading here.  Appreciate your courage to view the "governance" with OPEN eyes.  Thanks for sharing.  Agree with the paramount importance of your post above, Araignee19.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2018, 10:13:02 am by Janet Easson Martin » Logged

For grace is given not because we have done good works, but in order that we may be able to do them.        - Saint Augustine
Greentruth
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« Reply #6 on: April 22, 2018, 07:49:42 pm »

This is NOT Willow Creek, and it is very different in nature and surrounding circumstances in the way the accusations where presented. There are many inaccuracies in the accusations toward ECC, that have not been addressed, and it would seem to me ECC BOT has yet to make a decision what to do, as they have not even been presented with the results of the investigation they paid for. It would look to me there is just a lot more assumptions, caterwauling, and manipulation going on.  How do ANYof you know what the bot will decide to do next?  Do you have personal contact with ECC?
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DarthVader
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« Reply #7 on: April 22, 2018, 09:24:57 pm »

You are correct on one point - Willow Creek kept their investigation of Bill Hybles a secret for 4 years because the victims chose to work through the Willow Creek church leadership &  Board, whereas in the ECC case, the victims were savy enough to use social media which eliminated that option for ECC. Beyond that I am not sure of any relevant differences because you did not provide any.  Using the word caterwauling in every post does not convey information. If you have any relevant facts or new insights beyond complaining about caterwauling I'd love to engage in a meaningful exchange of ideas. I wish you the best.
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Greentruth
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« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2018, 04:54:09 am »

Look up caterwauling, that’s what much of this is. I’ll ask again, how do you know what ECC is going to do? It’s my understanding that they are still waiting for the investigation they paid for. Suzanne refused to participate, so ECC will probably need to make a decision when they get the results at the end of May. Anything else, such as what you assume, is caterwauling.
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DarthVader
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« Reply #9 on: April 23, 2018, 08:16:00 am »

**Post Edited by DV to remove offensive content**
GT, You're absolutely welcome to your opinions.  I stand behind what I said about the comparison between the two investigations.  My hope as someone who loves my ECC location is that ECC will learn from what WC did wrong and adjust course.  That is my reason for posting.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2018, 09:11:50 am by DarthVader » Logged
DarthVader
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« Reply #10 on: April 23, 2018, 09:08:58 am »

Sorry - that last part about "doing the Lord's work" was a bit snarky..Apologies for that. It's a sad situation all around and it was pointed out by a brother that I sounded gleeful about this in some way (probably because of a winking emoji I posted).  I'm going to edit that out, but didn't want to be hiding my sin, so wanted to acknowledge it before I did that.
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Greentruth
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« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2018, 12:59:58 pm »

When the results of the investigation are made known, and ECC decides their response and or action, I would relish a conversation on FACTUAL issues and options. At this point it’s limited to he said she said, and a whole lot of what she said not adding up. Anything else is just speculation. I really don’t understand why it’s so hard for some to not just wait for the FACTS!  I know why, but it escapes logic why a few will try so hard to wreck a mans life with what they have.
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DarthVader
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« Reply #12 on: April 23, 2018, 07:41:30 pm »

GT, we will have to agree to disagree. Willow Creek had an investigation - the results were made known - then disaster happened.  An eminently avoidable disaster because they did not listen to many credible voices along the way (including the 3 who resigned from the Willow Creek Board) about the flaws in their approach to the investigation.

The apology letter they were forced to send to their church this week (link pasted below) & resulting loss of credibility could have been entirely avoided had they taken some of the steps they outline in the letter BEFORE calling their investigation "done" and clearing Bill Hybles such as

1) "In hindsight, we wish we would have worked harder to collaborate with all parties that were impacted to bring clarity and reconciliation when accusations were first made. While attempts were made, we could have done more."

 2) "We will respectfully reach out to each woman who has made an accusation, even if she has not brought her concerns directly to the Board. We commit that each woman willing to speak with us will be heard, and that we will respect her story. We commit that making steps toward understanding and toward restoring relationship will be our primary goals. We will seek wise counsel and work with experts, developing a collaborative process"

These are things ECC could be doing now If they chose not to, it will be very hard for me to remain a member of their ministry. Are the two situations (ECC & WC) EXACTLY the same - no (no two situations are) - are they similar enough that it would be folly for ECC not to learn anything from what is unfolding at Willow Creek literally as we speak - YES (in my opinion, but you're welcome to your own).
   
https://www.willowcreek.org/en/blogs/south-barrington/elder-letter
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Greentruth
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« Reply #13 on: April 23, 2018, 07:57:03 pm »

I thought about this a bit today, and still feel the same. I did some research and still feel we don’t know enough of what is Actually going on at ECC BOT. Way to many variations to start making threats of disconnecting. That too,is between YOU and God. And I really don’t think it is very wise to make that kind of discussion, based on the distorted views coming from this form. I will pray for you DV.  It was a hard discussion for me when we moved, but God made it abundantly clear through positive reinforcement.
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DarthVader
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« Reply #14 on: April 23, 2018, 08:12:18 pm »

I appreciate your prayers, GT thank you. But I would not call it a threat, just a choice I might feel compelled to make, after wrestling for many weeks (months now), and after having multiple conversations with ECC Pastors and staff. A threat seems to imply hostility of intent, or intent to harm.  If I do leave, it will be with great sadness, not with animosity, just a need to not be supporting through my time and money this ministry when there are others that wouldn't treat (alleged?) victims this way.  My church needs to treat potential victims the way Willow Creek said they want to in their apology letter.  I do plan on seeing this through to the end, hoping to be a positive influence in the process and hoping the decisions made and process for making those decisions is one I can live with if not be proud of.
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AgathaL'Orange
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« Reply #15 on: April 23, 2018, 08:20:14 pm »

I do plan on seeing this through to the end, hoping to be a positive influence in the process and hoping the decisions made and process for making those decisions is one I can live with if not be proud of.

I love this.  <3
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DarthVader
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« Reply #16 on: April 23, 2018, 08:22:33 pm »

 Smiley thanks Agatha
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Rebel in a Good Way
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« Reply #17 on: April 24, 2018, 08:47:38 am »

DarthVader, I absolutely agree with you that everything between Willow Creek and Evergreen might not perfectly match detail by detail, but there are too many parallels to ignore.  This is playing out right before the eyes of ECC, I cannot for the life of me understand why they don't see the "writing on the wall" and change course.  Quickly. 

Just to keep people updated because anyone invested in ECC's handling of their current situation should be paying attention to Willow Creek--

Here is a Christianity Today article.

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2018/april/bill-hybels-willow-creek-promises-investigation-allegations.html?share

This was from Vonda Dyer, one of the women who said Bill Hybels behaved inappropriately with her.  I highlighted the words regarding the participation of victims in Willow Creek's investigation.

https://www.facebook.com/vonda.dyer/posts/10156357363567206

"Friends,
Let me clarify just one false narrative coming, yet again, from the Willow Creek Leadership. The VERY first time that an elder or senior leader at Willow Creek initiated any official attempt to speak with me was last Friday through a mutual friend, A COUPLE OF HOURS before the letter to the congregation went out and less than 24 hours before the Christianity Today article released on Saturday.

The church’s official statement that “many of us have persistently requested meetings with people mentioned or quoted in media accounts” is categorically UNTRUE, at least in my case.

The three new stories in the Christianity Today article of brave women who came forward with allegations of inappropriate behavior by Bill Hybels highlight many of the same destructive patterns that caused me to share my story with the Chicago Tribune, believing that women were still at risk!

We are up to 9 women and counting, ya'll. Is this starting to register with anyone else as a pattern that someone should fully investigate?
Many of these stories happened before the eras of ambien and wine invitations began. Keep your checklists and look for the patterns. They are glaring.

That said, I WOULD ONLY FEEL SAFE TO ENGAGE with Willow Creek leadership through a truly independent third party investigation, with full disclosure of the findings, out on the table.

Can you understand a sister on this?


Four years later is not the time for the Willow Creek Community Church elders to start a conversation or listen (per the article and their new declaration to the staff and members). Now is the time for an actual reckoning; A reckoning of Bill's abuse of power and misconduct and the Willow Creek leadership's complicit and formulated action in covering it up.

This needs to be unearthed and rooted out of the church. It is not the way of Jesus and it is not the gospel we proclaim.

For the women. For my daughters and your daughters. For the church worldwide.

I stand behind my story. (vondadyer.com)

Read the article to the end and hear the accounts of three new women.

#metoo #churchtoo #silenceisnotspiritual"



And, an article from the secular media--which was the push needed to get the church, the bride of Christ, to actually pay attention and address abuse.  That is a sad statement on the state of the church.  But I believe the church can do better, pray the church will do better, and watch with hope and expectation for the church to actually do better.  As much as I disagree with the practices of GCC, it would be great if ECC was part of that.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/breaking/ct-met-more-women-accuse-hybels-20180418-story.html
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Boggs
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« Reply #18 on: April 24, 2018, 09:02:51 am »

I would be so encouraged by ANY church taking a visible stand on this issue! It is time for churches to acknowledge the potential for abuse due to the power and authority differentials inherent in churches of all types. Time to develop reporting procedures, accountable investigation policies that protect the victim and accused, balanced accountability for leaders, and a clear communication of the how's and why's of all of it.

I'm sure it would be quite an undertaking but it is worth every bit of the effort. And what moment like the present to say, "it's clear from the examples of X, Y, and Z that we must be proactive to protect our community from abuse."
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Greentruth
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« Reply #19 on: April 24, 2018, 08:09:54 pm »

I would be so encouraged by ANY church taking a visible stand on this issue! It is time for churches to acknowledge the potential for abuse due to the power and authority differentials inherent in churches of all types. Time to develop reporting procedures, accountable investigation policies that protect the victim and accused, balanced accountability for leaders, and a clear communication of the how's and why's of all of it.

I'm sure it would be quite an undertaking but it is worth every bit of the effort. And what moment like the present to say, "it's clear from the examples of X, Y, and Z that we must be proactive to protect our community from abuse." Quote from Boggs

And so begins. For anyone to throw blanket statements like this over ALL of God’s Churches is a sad slippery slope. But, this is predicted in the Bible. Good will be called bad, and bad will be called evil. To all reading. This is this form. A handful of bitterness that most would not sit face to face with anyone, and say the same as they do here. Just propaganda from a hiding spot with a key board. There are mistakes made in every Church, and a very few who abuse the pulpit. Those that do are found out and removed quite rapidly in most cases. But those that hide behind computer screens with fake names do more damage by far. This form is not rare, and not even close to the largest attended.
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