Two Publishers Suspend Publication of Books by Megachurch Pastor Hybels in Wake of Misconduct Allegations

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Two Christian book publishers have suspended publication of books by Bill Hybels, the megachurch pastor and best-selling author who stepped down from the helm of Willow Creek Community Church amid allegations of improper conduct with women.

Tyndale House Publishers in Carol Stream has suspended its plans to publish “Everyone Wins When a Leader Gets Better,” which was scheduled for release in August. That month, Hybels was to have hosted the renowned Global Leadership Summit, a conference sponsored by the related nonprofit Willow Creek Association, but Hybels bowed out of that as well.

“We will make a final decision regarding potential publication after we absorb the facts and implications related to these allegations,” Todd Starowitz, a spokesman for Tyndale House, said in a statement.

“We take allegations of misconduct seriously, and we are deeply concerned for all involved, both those who have brought forth these allegations as well as the Hybels family.”

Westmont-based InterVarsity Press also announced it would not reprint Hybels’ book titled “Who You Are When No One’s Looking,” a book about the importance of maintaining consistent moral character, and its companion study guide.

A third publisher of Hybels’ titles, Zondervan, said in a statement: “We take these allegations seriously and we continue to sort through the information as it is presented.”

The pastor’s resignation from the northwest suburban powerhouse comes less than a month after a Chicago Tribune investigation disclosed allegations of inappropriate conduct by the pastor with women spanning decades. The Tribune examined allegations investigated by elders and other claims by interviewing current and former church members, elders and employees, as well as reviewing hundreds of emails and internal records.

The alleged behavior included suggestive comments, extended hugs, an unwanted kiss and invitations to hotel rooms. It also included an allegation of a prolonged consensual affair with a married woman who later said her claim about the affair was not true, the Tribune found.

Elders of the church — appointed members who oversee Willow Creek’s administration and pastor — had conducted multiple investigations, one of which involved an outside attorney, after claims about Hybels came to their attention more than four years ago. All inquiries cleared the pastor of misconduct.

But three former teaching pastors — one with an allegation of her own – and the wife of a longtime president of the Willow Creek Association faulted those investigations, saying that they were not rigorous or independent enough. At least three leaders of the association’s board resigned over what they believed was an insufficient inquiry.

Compassion International, a humanitarian aid agency, also chose not to renew its sponsorship of the church’s Global Leadership Summit over concerns about the association’s process for reviewing complaints about senior leaders.

Hybels has called allegations against him “flat-out lies.”

Source: Chicago Tribune