Willow Creek acting senior pastor, Steve Gillen, today sent an email to all church staff stating that the church believes that its co-founder, Dr. Gilbert Bilezikian, or Dr. B, “engaged in inappropriate behavior, and the harm he caused was inexcusable.”
Gillen added, “While there are circumstances of the case that should have been handled differently, I believe our staff has taken these allegations seriously.” He said the church is “committed to learning from the missteps that were made in the process” and urged staff to pray for the victim and her family.
The email comes in response to allegations this weekend from longtime Willow Creek member, Ann Lindberg, that Bilezikian repeatedly assaulted her sexually over a period of several years while he was in leadership at the church. Lindberg also alleged that she reported this sexual misconduct to the church in early 2010, but staff told her that “since it didn’t go to sex, it didn’t need to go any further.” Lindberg further alleged that as a result of coming forward, she was “quietly criticized, rejected in leadership, accused falsely of wrong-doing” and also had “one of the security guards watching me while at church.”
I reached out yesterday to the Willow Creek elders for comment, but they have not responded. I also reached out to some of the church staff named in Lindberg’s account, but have not received any comment from them yet either. Dr. Bilezikian and I have corresponded by email and he has agreed to an interview tomorrow.test-edited
UPDATE: I just received the following email from Dr. Bilezikian, cancelling our interview Tuesday morning: