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Willow Creek board, lead pastor to step down

August 9, 2018
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Willow Creek Community Church lead pastor Heather Larson speaks at the church, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2018, in South Barrington, Ill. Larson said she is stepping down, and the entire Board of Elders will do so by the end of the year. Larson said the church needed new leadership in the wake of sexual harassment allegations against church founder Bill Hybels. (Steve Lundy/Daily Herald via AP)

SOUTH BARRINGTON, Ill. (AP) — The lead pastor of a Chicago-area evangelical church that is one of the largest in the nation says she is stepping down, and the entire Board of Elders will do so by the end of the year.

In an announcement posted on the Willow Creek Community Church website late Wednesday, Heather Larson said the church needed new leadership in the wake of sexual harassment allegations against church founder Bill Hybels. In a New York Times story, former assistant Pat Baranowski said Hybels repeatedly groped her in the 1980s. Hybels denies the allegation. He resigned in April.

The announcements come as the Willow Creek Association is scheduled to host its 23rd annual Global Leadership Summit. Several speakers have backed out and over 100 churches cancelled plans to broadcast the event.

The church has eight Chicago-area locations.

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