'Sexual impurity' is cited in pastor's resignation from Willow Creek Chicago

Rev. Bill Hybels' Willow Creek Community Church won't specify what happened

Chicago Tribune/February 18, 2009

The pastor of Willow Creek Chicago-the city campus of the evangelical megachurch Willow Creek Community Church-has resigned and admitted to "sexual impurity," a church spokesman said.

The pastor, Rev. Steve Wu, could not be reached, and the church would not specify what took place.

Wu, 43, moved from California's Silicon Valley in early 2006, hired by senior pastor Rev. Bill Hybels to lead Willow Creek Chicago, the downtown branch of the South Barrington-based church.

Under Wu, Willow Creek Chicago began holding Sunday services at the historic Auditorium Theatre in October 2006, becoming Willow Creek's fifth campus and drawing a diverse congregation of more than 1,200 worshipers to the new church.

Willow Creek Community Church is one of the most influential evangelical churches in the nation with more than 20,000 members who worship at six locations throughout Illinois, as well as an international church community.

During Sunday services on Jan. 25, one of the church Elders, Greg Haecker, read a brief statement to the Willow Chicago congregation announcing Wu's resignation effective immediately.

The statement said: "He admitted to sexual impurity and has taken full responsibility for his sin. He has expressed a desire to participate in a restoration process."

The statement also said Todd Katter has agreed to serve as interim campus pastor while the church searches for Wu's replacement.

"We would ask you to pray diligently for Steve in these difficult days," the statement concluded.

Willow's director of communication Ted Allen Miller said he could not comment further on the church's definition of sexual impurity. But he said the church learned about the misconduct when Wu came to church leaders and admitted inappropriate actions.

Hybels apparently held high hopes for Wu when he appointed him to the prestigious spot as pastor of Willow Creek Chicago. According to a church press release, Hybels said when he met Wu, "he knew God had spoken."

Wu has a unique background, with roots in corporate and ministry settings. In Silicon Valley, Wu held leadership roles in Genesis Technology Inc. and Twin Peaks Software. After that, he entered religious life and started a church. Before moving to Chicago, he was a pastor at Crosswinds Church in the San Francisco Bay area.

In the 2006 church news release announcing his arrival, Wu expressed excitement about his new role as pastor of Willow Chicago.

"I so look forward to the day we can say, 'Look what God has done in this place,' " he said.

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