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Letter from the WCASA board

In the past six months, the Willow Creek Association of Southern Africa (WCASA) has been called to a higher level of leadership, and we apologise for the delay in communicating with you.

The news of accusations of alleged inappropriate behaviour of our founder Bill Hybels and the resulting questionable leadership decisions, and management practices, are in the public domain. Although we were not directly responsible for this situation we take collective responsibility with our principal in Chicago.

In mitigation we found ourselves in a very dynamic situation and tried to second guess the correct time to communicate with our constituency.

The aim of this letter is to offer an apology and to bring hope around the heart-breaking issue that these circumstances have brought to the forefront.  Our knowledge of the situation has been restricted to what we have  received via social media and the press.  This partial information has made it extremely difficult to communicate with you without knowing all the facts.

Unfortunately this is still the situation we find ourselves in and we await the final outcome of the independent investigation which is currently in process.

Throughout God has challenged us to discern the way forward.

LOOKING BACK and AROUND US:

This has been a devastating issue. We echo the sentiments expressed by the leadership of both the Willow Creek Association globally (WCA-Global) as well as the Willow Creek Community Church (WCCC) in that this situation was handled poorly and should have been acted on more timeously, compassionately and definitively.

We recognise women and victims of abusive behaviour for their courage in helping the global church grow in greater awareness around these and related issues. We have been challenged to a higher standard that being a Christ-follower requires of us.

Gender-based violence (GBV) is prominent, as can be observed by ever-increasing violence targeted towards woman (further substantiated by SAPS crime statistics released in September 2018) – whether as domestic abuse, sexual assault or harassment in the workplace. We are confronted with this issue in our everyday lives and it ranges from the sad to the horrendous. More needs to be done, and sadly our society offers little or no protection or recourse to justice.

LOOKING UP:

We have been seeking God’s guidance in navigating our way forward.  We and all key stakeholders have had to delve deeply as we considered how to proceed with the Global Leadership Summit in Southern Africa.

We were reminded that the cause that we signed up for remains integral: – To provide world-class Christ-centred leadership development that is annual, affordable and accessible.

WCASA’s purposes are anchored in a relationship with our Creator, and not in a personality.

LOOKING AHEAD:

We would like to leverage our GLS platform to raise awareness around the issue of GBV, and offer opportunities to hear from SA’s experts, plus expose those attending to the resources and staff training that is available to both businesses and churches.

We see this as an opportunity to facilitate further conversation, and we are trusting that it will develop into bi-annual in-depth workshops, that will serve both our country and the rest of Southern Africa.

IN CLOSING:

We want to provide an opportunity for all leaders to learn more about GBV in our own contexts – whether business, church, home, family or wherever we might find ourselves.

And, as always, we want to extend an invitation to join us, to becoming better stewards of the influence God has entrusted us with, in particular around the causes that break His heart.

Lastly we would like to clarify the role of our GLS hosts. They partner with us, by offering their facilities to serve the greater community. Other than that, they are not necessarily aligned to Willow Creek, not theologically, philosophically or by leadership authority.

Thank you for walking with us and praying for us. Your friendship and partnership is invaluable to us at this time.

Yours in Christ,

Gerry Couchman

On behalf of the WCASA Board