Two years after the tumultuous resignation of their longtime pastor and founder Bill Hybels under a cloud of sexual misconduct allegations, Willow Creek Community Church in suburban Chicago announced Wednesday that they have selected Michigan megachurch pastor David Dummitt to replace him at the helm.
“We’re thrilled to share that our Elder Board has selected Dave Dummitt as our new Senior Pastor! We can't wait to welcome him into the Willow family,” the church announced on their website.
Dummitt, who has four children with his wife, Rachel, is the founding and lead pastor of the 10,000-member 2|42 Community Church in Southeast Michigan which he has been operating for more than 15 years.
“David Dummitt is an innovative, entrepreneurial pastor and leader with a strong passion to help people take first and next steps with God. He is known for his collaborative leadership style and ability to develop strong teams,” Willow Creek’s Elder Board said.
The 2|42 Community Church, which was launched with just 35 people in Dummitt’s living room, now has seven different campuses that meet each weekend. Willow Creek meets in eight locations.
“He is passionate about the kingdom of God advancing through church planting. Dave previously held the role of North American director of NewThing, a global church-planting organization. He also sat on the board of the Solomon Foundation, the fastest-growing church extension fund, for four years. Additionally, Dave partnered with two gifted technology developers to create Gyve, an innovative technology platform for churches and nonprofits,” Willow Creek noted.
William Vanderbloemen of Vanderbloemen Search Group, which was retained by Willow Creek to assist in finding a successor to Hybels, said Dummitt is “the right person to lead Willow in this moment.”
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“I’ve known Dave for many years. His humble spirit, and his focus on the local church — rather than a national platform — is one of many reasons we believe he is precisely the right person to lead Willow in this moment,” Vanderbloemen said in a release.
“Sarah and I want to extend our sincere congratulations to Dave and Rachel Dummitt and the entire Willow community in welcoming their new senior pastor. The people of Willow are some of the best on the planet. We have always wanted Willow to thrive and we believe God is actively empowering that reality. We believe Pastor Dummitt can help Willow rebuild and recast a new and vibrant future. And we continue to pray for the health, peace, and strength for the entire global Church as our world faces these unprecedented times. Now, more than ever, is a time for unity, grace, and the hope found only in Jesus. Cheering you all on,” Carter wrote.
Dummitt, who attended Wheaton College and Asbury Theological Seminary, said he has admired the church, which he will begin leading in June, for a long time.
“As a freshman at Wheaton College, I’d heard about this church that was doing creative things to reach lost people. We attended, and I can almost point to the seats we sat in that day. The service opened with a Beatles song. I was a church kid who played in the handbell choir at my church. That service opened my eyes to new ways of doing church. I don’t know of a pastor or leader in America that has not in some way been shaped by the ministry of Willow Creek,” Dummitt said.
Hybels was forced to resign as lead pastor at Willow Creek Community Church after an extensive investigation published by the Chicago Tribune in March 2018 detailed a pattern of sexual misconduct allegations. He denied a number of the allegations, including a consensual affair with a married woman who retracted her claims. The Tribune report also alleged a pattern of behavior against Hybels that included suggestive comments, extended hugs, an unwanted kiss, and invitations to some female staffers to hotel rooms.
In July 2019, Willow Creek publicly closed the chapter on their flawed former leader while urging him to “repent” as needed.
“God has blessed Willow Creek Community Church to have a profound impact for His kingdom. Bill Hybels served and contributed to Willow for more than 40 years. Simultaneously, unchecked sin and intimidating behavior resulted in harm that is still felt in this present day. Christ died to free us from the power of sin. It is in that spirit that we appeal to Bill to reflect on his years in ministry, repent where necessary, and seek to live out the ministry of reconciliation,” the church’s new elder board led by Jeff Mason said in a statement.
That same year, an Independent Advisory Group that investigated the sexual misconduct allegations against Hybels called them “credible” and recommended counseling for him as well as a raft of changes to improve the organizational culture at the church and Willow Creek Association, rebranded as the Global Leadership Network.