Citing an “unsustainable financial scenario” Willow Creek Community Church Senior Pastor David Dummitt has announced the shuttering of the multi-campus megachurch’s downtown Chicago campus.
“Over the last few months, we have come to the difficult decision to close that location,” Dummitt said in a video announcement released by the church Monday.
The campus had shown much promise over the years, he said, but as the church and city went through “significant changes” paying the mortgage on property acquired by the congregation on State Street in 2018 became a challenge.
“For years they (the campus) met in a rented theater. After a successful capital campaign they opened their doors in a new, current facility on State Street back in April of 2018. And at that time we had pledges to fund almost the entirety of its purchase with a plan to carry a responsible level of debt in line with the size and budget level of the campus at that time,” Dummitt explained.
“But … since 2018, Willow at large and Chicago went through some pretty significant changes. And while Chicago was a growing congregation, we’re faced with an unsustainable financial scenario.”
Dummitt said they have been working on a plan for the last three years to keep the campus, led by Pastor Thomas Anderson Jr., from closing, but the current economic climate has made that difficult.
“We explored working with a developer to build up and still retain some space for the church. We’ve been working on that plan for nearly three years. But as the economy has shifted and interest rates increased, the time frame for that project continued to extend further and further out. We also looked at renting out spaces, moving the campus, leasing,” he said. “We believe that while difficult, this is the best decision for our immediate future.”
Acknowledging the decision Monday, Willow Chicago noted on Instagram that their final service in the building will be on Feb. 24.
“Willow Chicago, it is with heavy and grateful hearts we share that our last service will be on February 25. Let’s come together and thank God for all He has done during our years together. While this season comes to a close, we will forever be united as brothers and sisters in Christ,” the campus noted in a message.
Dummitt noted that the closure of Willow Chicago is unique in their family of churches, and they have no plans to close any other campuses. With the closure of the Chicago campus, Willow Creek will still have seven physical churches along with an online congregation.
“I just want to say this has not been easy for our entire team. Our Chicago team in particular, they are fantastic, they have built a beautiful multiethnic growing congregation in the South Loop, and we are committed to walking with them in this, and hopefully finding new roles at Willow should they choose to stay,” Dummitt said. “I just want to come to you and invite you to be praying. Praying for that congregation, and if you know any of them, any of the staff team, please just check in on them. I think this is our chance to practice being the church to one another.”