Benjamin Ady has an apology to Pastor Pete Cocos of Word of Grace Church in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin. Word of Grace it appears hosted the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit. This deals with the ongoing Willow Creek scandal with Bill Hybels. But Benjamin wants to apologize for a negative Google and Facebook review.
“Affliction comes to us, not to make us sad but sober; not to make us sorry but wise.”
Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
James 5:16 NIV
Word of Grace Church in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin wants to pray for you!
This is an open letter from Benjamin Ady to Word of Grace Pastor Pete Cocos in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin. This is an apology by an atheist to a pastor about a negative review that was left about the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit.
Dear Pastor Pete Cocos,
In response to your request that I remove my facebook and google reviews of your church (and by implication, I suppose, that I also ask my lovely wife to remove her facebook review of your church), and that I apologise to your staff and congregation for negatively impacting your ability to reach the lost, I offer the following apology:
Dear Pastor Derik Armstrong (firstname.lastname@example.org), Campus Administrator Sandi Herman (email@example.com), Pastor Keith Nix (firstname.lastname@example.org), Pastor Pete Cocos (email@example.com), Pastor Stephen Maris (firstname.lastname@example.org), Team WOG Director Jamie Hubbard (email@example.com), and staff and congregation of Word of Grace Community Church.
I’m sorry. I’m sorry I wasn’t available to you when you were choosing a domain name for your church, so I could help prevent your use of a word that is a racist slur in the UK and Australia for your church’s domain name.
I’m sorry that I ruined your 5.0 star rating on google reviews, thereby impacting your ability to reach me, whom you consider to be lost. I’m sorry that other people are now having the opportunity to see the public complaint of a “lost” person regarding your long persistence in partnering with an organisation which has chosen to side with a perpetrator of sexual assault and sexual harassment, against his victims. I can certainly see how this would impact your ability to reach me and others like me.
I’m in fact sorry–truly, deeply, very sorry–that you chose in both 2018 and 2019 to persist with hosting the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit. You persisted after this organisation emailed thousands of pastors globally lying about their founder’s decades of sexual assault, sexual harssment, and bullying of women, and attacking his victims. You persisted after you learned that they’d sent salesmen out to hundreds and hundreds of churches in the U.S., in the spring and summer of 2018, to tell host site leaders that Bill Hybels’ victims were lying liars with a personal vendetta. You persisted in spite of the fact that you should have known that at a minimum 400,000 Christian women in the United States have been victims of abusive sexual advances by their own trusted pastor (Chaves & Garland, 2009). You persisted in spite of the fact that Willow Creek Association / Global Leadership Network, from whom you purchased “leadership training” in both 2018 and 2019, utterly refuse to even publicly name the sexual assault and sexual harassment perpetrated by Bill Hybels, much less clearly condemn it. You persisted in spite of the fact that victims of sexual abuse consistently state, and the academic literature verifies, that the original abuse did vastly less damage than the institutional and/or familial retraumatisation they experienced when their families and churches protected the perpetrator rather than the victim. You persisted in spite of learning in August 2018 that Bill Hybels not only sexually assaulted and orally raped one of his victims (I note that free consent was impossible to give or receive, when he was simultaneously her employer, landlord, and pastor), but thereafter systematically destroyed her reputation and threw her away, leading directly to a lifetime of living on the edge of poverty for a woman who before she met Bill Hybels was noted to be a powerful, industrious, organised, effective individual who was on track to have a very successful career wherever she ended up.
I’m sorry that after all that persistence, when in the end you finally, very quietly and unobtrusively, even secretly, joined well over 400 other churches and cancelled your association with this organisation, I didn’t give you enough public credit. I’m sorry that in fact I did give far more credit to other churches, who had cancelled their association with Willow Creek Association / Global Leadership Summit much earlier and much more publicly (for example, Christ Church Oak Brook, or Grace Church Indiana). This was totally unfair of me. I confess I allowed your senior pastor’s imperious tone in his email response to me colour my further interaction with you and your congregation. In fact you did much the same thing as many other churches, to whom I publicly gave more credit than I’ve given you. Further in fact I note that more than 400 churches in the U.S. continue to partner with this organisation, and your cancellation of your partnership puts you miles ahead of them–a fact for which I have failed to adequately thank you, publicly and privately. I’m sorry.
I’d like to make amends, if I can, and would be open to your suggestions as to how to proceed. As a “lost” person myself, I reckon I could in fact be profoundly helpful to you towards maximising your ability to reach me and others like me. I’d be willing to travel and attend your church services, although I’d have to insist that you pay for the round trip airfare from Australia, and offer my constructive suggestions on ways you could more effectively reach “lost” people like me. I’d be willing to meet with your staff and/or your congregation, and deliver this apology in person, and I reckon I could even convince my good friend Jim Henderson to come along with me and show you how to implement his 3 practices, which would I reckon vastly elevate your ability to reach “lost” people like me.
I look forward to continuing dialogue.