Willow Creek Elders Say They’re “Heartbroken” over “Abuse” of Congregant by Church Co-Founder

By Julie Roys

The elders at Willow Creek Community Church tonight sent an email to congregants, stating that the church is “heartbroken” over the “abuse” of a congregant by church co-founder, Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian. The elders said that the victim first told church officials about the alleged abuse approximately 10 years ago. And while Willow’s Elder Response Team (ERT) restricted Bilezikian from serving at that time, “the restriction was not adequately communicated, resulting in Dr. Bilezikian serving and teaching in various capacities over the years.”

This information first came to light over the weekend when the victim, Ann Lindberg, a longtime member at Willow, shared her story on Facebook. In their email, the elders say that the church believed Lindberg’s story when she first came forward. The elders added that the inappropriate behavior included, but was not “limited to hand holding, hugs, kissing, inappropriate touching, and sending overly personal communication.”

The elders state that Bilezikian’s behavior was “sinful,” “harmful and unacceptable for a Christ follower.” 

Here’s the full email Willow Creek sent to congregants:



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8 thoughts on “Willow Creek Elders Say They’re “Heartbroken” over “Abuse” of Congregant by Church Co-Founder”

  1. Julie

    So who signed the letter? Couldn’t the group of current elders have attached their names as confirmation and accountability to the body of Christ?

    1. Calling Ann out on her BS

      Hmm.. If you were a “victim” at the hands of a senior leader at Willow Creek church would you draw attention to yourself every-time you were attending a weekend service? Would you run into the auditorium before service to get the closes seat possible to the stage? Would you present yourself at the Saturday night service, in the front row, closes to the stage in outfits and large hats for the purpose of making heads turn and receive comments from people? I am calling out Ann Lindberg on her BS. A security person was not assigned to Ann Lindberg, security watches EVERYONE near the front of the stage. There is no need for a call of “healing” for Ann Lindberg, her need for “attention” healing is coming from all of the “oh, I am so sorry” post. If you really knew Ann Lindberg, you would of had the same nauseated feeling when you saw her name as a “victim”. There is no doubt she was a wiling participant in her friendship with Dr. Bilezikian. There is no doubt she loved the attention and friendship from a person with status like Dr. B. And I think her keeping and sharing the letters and postcard is irrelevant and a little bit creepy.

      To be clear. I am in no way defending Dr. Bilezikian for pretending to be a spiritual leader all the while, being flirtatious with other women, and young female students. Shame on him! The true victim is Dr. B’s wife and the other young women, not Ann Lindberg who LOVED the attention and participated with a married man willingly.

      Will the drama at our Church every end?

      Recently it was Paul JVR cheating on his wife with another Willow Creek spiritual leader, while he was in Jerusalem teaching other Willow Creek leaders about spirituality and healing. Then Bill Hybels exposed as a serious creep. I am not talking about the long-extended hugs, I am referring to his first assistant and her story that was beyond creepy. Now we have the creep factor of Dr. Bilezikian pausing and staring at young female students at a Bible college and talking long walks with Ann Lindberg, instead of his wife. Next on deck is the accusations from two young women in the young adults ministry at Willow Creek, that Steve Carter was overly flirtatious and inappropriate on several occasions, so bad that they left the church.

      Can the church put a end date for accusations of PAST Willow staff so we as a church can move forward and do what the church is supposed to do?


      I am tired of the BS

      1. What’s your real name? I think Ann Lindberg – and all readers – deserve to know. Easy to sling mud when you’re hiding behind a pseudonym.

        The drama at your church will start to end when the church comes clean about the past and makes all public apologies, by name, to the women they slandered and failed.

  2. Glad to see the church stepping forward and doing this; hopefully they also do what they can to help Mrs. Lindberg be as whole as possible again.

    Regarding the notion that a woman’s presence in the church disproves the notion that she was abusively treated, that’s false. The trick is that this is not an allegation of forcible rape, where the very approach of the man would be traumatic. Rather, it’s where a man cultivated a relationship that he would have known from day one could never go forward–at least not if he wanted to stay in his positions at church and such!

    So what we’ve got here is a woman duped into accepting the advances of a man who could never be her husband, but that reality does not stop her feelings for him. The picture the “BS” commenter draws ironically is evidence of the abuse.

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