Another Willow Creek campus pastor resigns, citing conflict in values

Willow Creek Community Church
Eight of the nine members of Willow Creek Community Church's elder board promote unity at a Worship & Reflection Service. |

A second pastor of Willow Creek Community Church has resigned from his position, citing a conflict in values.

Marcus Bieschke, lead pastor of Willow Creek's Crystal Lake campus, announced Sunday during a Core meeting that he is stepping down from his role at the church, stating that his "heart and values are not in full alignment" with the direction the church is taking. He will leave on Dec. 1.

In a Sunday letter to the megachurch, Bieschke acknowledged that his move has likely come as a surprise but that the leadership accepted his decision to leave.

"Over the past 20 months, it has become increasingly clear to me that my heart and values are not in full alignment with Willow's current direction. I cannot pastor and lead to the best of my ability without being fully aligned in these fundamental areas," he wrote.

"I've longed for and encouraged Willow to pursue a different path toward healing. But due to a difference of opinion on what that path should be, I believe I must depart. While this is immensely difficult for me, because I love and will miss you all so very much, I do have a peace that my departure is appropriate and necessary."

Dave Smith, with whom Bieschke has worked closely, will serve as the interim lead pastor, his letter noted.

The outgoing pastor will share during upcoming Sunday services what he announced Sunday.

His resignation comes amid a tumultuous season for the Chicago-area megachurch and mere months after the resignation of pastor Reece Whitehead, who led Willow Creek's Wheaton campus.

In March of last year, the church was rocked by several accusations of sexual misconduct — described in detail in an investigative piece in the Chicago Tribune — against longtime pastor Bill Hybels, which a subsequent independent investigation found to be credible. The pattern of behavior alleged against Hybels included suggestive comments, extended hugs, an unwanted kiss, and invitations to some female staffers to hotel rooms.

After Hybels was ousted the following month, both Tyndale House and InterVarsity Press announced that they would no longer publish books Hybels had written. Earlier this year in June, the new elder board of the church issued a statement in an effort to close the chapter with Hybels, urging him to repent. The elders said at the time that their efforts to engage Hybels were rebuffed.

Hybels denied the allegations against him, including a consensual affair with a married woman who retracted her claims.

Founded in 1975, Willow Creek Community Church has eight locations across the Chicago area.

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