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After Bill Hybels, Willow Creek Still Searching for a Successor

After months of delays in the process, the church’s interim pastor announces plans to resign.

The search for a new leader at Willow Creek Community Church is back to the drawing board.

Elders at the suburban Chicago megachurch announced Thursday that they have released the two finalists they were considering for the role of senior pastor from the search process.

The elders also announced that acting senior pastor Steve Gillen will step down in March.

The church has been without a permanent senior pastor since pastors Heather Larson and Steve Carter resigned in August 2018 as a result of the church’s mishandling of misconduct allegations against founding pastor Bill Hybels. Its previous elder board also resigned at that time.

Earlier this week, Willow Creek was rocked by news that Hybels’ mentor Gilbert Bilezikian—known widely as “Dr. B”—had been accused of misconduct between 1984 and 1988 by a longtime church member.

Bilezikian denied those allegations to Religion News Service. Church elders, however, said they believe they are true.

Gillen acknowledged the “difficult news about one of our founders and someone who’s had a huge impact on many of our lives” before the midweek service Wednesday on Willow Creek’s main campus in South Barrington, Illinois.

“Truthfully, I don’t want to get into it, because in my sadness, I just want to focus on God. I want to sing songs to him, and I want to one more time in my life acknowledge he is the foundation of my life and he is the foundation of our church,” he said.

Elders had planned to announce a new senior pastor by the end of 2019.

In their update Thursday, they wrote: “While both candidates have strong qualities as pastors, we released both from candidacy. Our consensus was that neither candidate is …

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