Steve Carter, the lead teaching pastor at Willow Creek Church, has resigned in the wake of fresh allegations of sexual misconduct by the church’s founder and former pastor, Bill Hybels. Carter wrote on his blog: “I cannot, in good conscience, appear before you as your Lead Teaching Pastor when my soul is so at odds with the institution.” (Steve Carter is also the co-host of the RELEVANT Sports Podcast along with Sam Acho and and Jesse Carey.)
The new allegations were published in The New York Times, where Pat Baranowski went on the record saying that Hybels had groped her repeatedly while she was employed at Willow Creek. She is the 10th woman to accuse Hybels of sexual misconduct. She also said that she was repeatedly sexually harassed.
Carter wrote a blog post explaining his decision to leave, saying the allegations are “horrifying” and have “compelled me to make public my decision to leave.”
Since the first women came forward with their stories, I have been gravely concerned about our church’s official response, and it’s ongoing approach to these painful issues. After many frank conversations with our elders, it became clear that there is a fundamental difference in judgment between what I believe is necessary for Willow Creek to move in a positive direction, and what they think is best. That is not to say that I am right and they are wrong. But I must follow the path that I believe God has laid out for me to live with integrity, and that path now diverges from Willow Creek.
Carter went on to say that he had tendered his resignation some time ago but had been asked to remain on staff while the church decided how to handle the announcement. The new allegations prompted him to resign “effective immediately,” saying that it “would be misleading of me to stand on that stage as if presenting a unified front.”
Carter’s announcement and the new allegations arrive just days before Willow Creek’s annual Global Leadership Summit, which simulcasts around the world. Christianity Today reports that over 100 churches and other organizations have canceled plans to host the summit in light of the allegations.