Elders: Willow Creek founder's choices were 'inappropriate'

SOUTH BARRINGTON, Ill. (AP) - Leaders of a Chicago-area evangelical church that became one of the largest in the nation are apologizing for some of its founder's choices, calling them "inappropriate."

The Rev. Bill Hybels retired from Willow Creek Community Church last month after allegations he touched and made lewd comments to female congregants.

Hybels denied the allegations and at the time of his retirement, Willow Creek's Elder Board claimed they were "lies" and that "the individuals involved were colluding against Bill." In comments posted Wednesday on the church's website, the elders apologized for their initial reaction.

The elders say they have been reaching out to the women who have made allegations against Hybels. They wrote they are "saddened by the experiences they are sharing with us."

Hybels founded the church in Palatine, Illinois, in 1975, now has eight Chicago-area locations. Leaders say it draws 25,000 people each week.

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