• Betty Schmidt

Updated Statement from Betty Schmidt

I cannot agree to participate in the reconciliation effort currently undertaken by the Willow Creek elder board. This attempt is out of place, time-wise, as what is called for now is truth telling and repentance. Before reconciliation can be attempted, Willow Creek elders and leaders must focus and address their own actions and failings, which have been accruing since the unfortunate family meetings of late March and for the four years prior.

The elders must specifically and thoroughly call out Bill Hybels' abuses. They must acknowledge and apologize for the untrue and damaging statements made about those women who have courageously stepped forward. To push for reconciliation rather than telling the truth and repenting of the lies, cover-up and defensiveness is ill-advised at this time. I strongly resist and resent the elders pursuing a premature process of reconciliation, and especially for hiring someone who has previous mediation experience with Willow Creek leadership.

David Schlachter, of Crossroads Resolution Group, and formerly an officer in Peacemakers Ministries, was hired by the elder board in 2006, during my 30 years of continuously serving as an elder, to help mediate a reconciliation between Senior Pastor Bill Hybels and the volunteer elder board. He was joined by two other mediators, one a psychotherapist and the other a former Willow Creek elder.

After a day and a half of intense, guided discussion, the final session was attended by only five of the participants: the three mediators, Bill Hybels, and one elder, who, as it turned out, became the scapegoat for the fracture that had developed between Bill and the elders. I vehemently protested this meeting and demanded that all of us, but minimally I, be allowed in, but was denied entry…by David Schlachter. The result was tragic, and Bill was never called out for sin of abusive powering-up on certain staff members and others who had raised complaints about him to the elders.

Mr. Schlachter seemed bent on distributing the fault equally among all of us, continuously impelling us to look within and identify the “idols” we were harboring. His was an extremely narrow, simplistic, reductive approach, one that held no understanding of personality disorders or power imbalances. I cannot recommend that anyone sit down to a table of reconciliation set in this manner, with Mr. Schlachter in charge.

David Schlachter has previously given Bill Hybels a pass on other sinful behaviors, so there is little reason to believe that he will display impartiality in this current matter or come to any different conclusion than he did in the previous situation.

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