Bill Hybels' daughter apologises for silence after sexual misconduct allegations

Willow Creek pastor Bill HybelsWikimedia Commons/Ianphilpot

Shauna Niequist has apologised for failing to speak up after her father, Bill Hybels, was accused of sexual misconduct.

Hybels, the influential founder and pastor Willow Creek, resigned in April 2018 after 42 years leading the church.

His resignation was prompted by a 2018 Chicago Tribune investigation into claims of sexual misconduct and harassment by former pastors and staff. These included suggestive comments, extended hugs, an unwanted kiss, invitations to hotel rooms, and an alleged consensual affair with a married woman. 

An independent investigation subsequently concluded that the claims were "credible". 

In a lengthy apology on Instagram, Niequist said she had been trying "for too long" to "find the words" to write about the allegations against her dad. 

"While along the way I've written here about how painful different aspects of it have been, I haven't spoken plainly about the situation, and I'm sorry," she said.

She said she needed time out to "grieve" and recover but had "extended that silence too long". 

"I now understand that my silence communicated to many that I defend my father's actions and his ongoing silence. I don't. I grieve both of those things," she said.

Shauna Niequist

"I now understand that my silence allowed many people to assume that I don't care about the people he hurt. That's not true, and that's something I regret so deeply. I'm so sorry."

She added that she had been "wounded" by the scandal and the way in which some of the anger at her father had been directed towards her "in very public ways". 

"The pain of that pushed me further into retreat. I'm not proud of that," she said. 

"In this area of my life, I've been living according to my fear, not my values. I carry so much regret, & I apologize. I know it might not make sense that someone who writes for a living, literally, could find herself so unable to say what needed to be said. But that's the truth. I was wounded, and I waited too long.

"I apologize for my silence & for all that it communicated. I'm so sorry. I continue to grieve alongside every person who's grieving." 

Niequist, whose husband used to lead worship at Willow Creek, also said she was still "in relationship" with her dad.

"I love him, and I always will," she said.

"I can't apologize for his choices, but I do apologize for mine. I can't make amends for his actions, but today I'm taking the first step in making amends to the people I've wounded by my silence."