Willow Creek Community Church names new senior pastor: Dave Dummitt

Rocked two years ago by the departures of founder Bill Hybels and his two replacements, Willow Creek Community Church now has a new leader.

Church officials announced Wednesday that Dave Dummitt will be Willow Creek's new senior pastor.

Dummitt comes to Willow Creek from southeast Michigan, where he has served as the founding and senior pastor of 2|42 Community Church for the past 15 years.

What began as a 35-member launch team meeting in Dummitt's living room, 2|42 now encompasses at least 10,000 worshippers meeting at seven different campuses each weekend.

Dummitt attended Wheaton College, where he met his wife, Rachel, and earned a bachelor's degree in Bible and theology. He was featured in a 2004 Daily Herald article in which he discussed plans to move to the Detroit area to launch a new church.

"Many times, denominations are based around a doctrine," Dummitt said at the time. "This is based around a mission."

The church he founded in Michigan has been listed several times among Outreach Magazine's 100 fastest growing churches in the country. Along with contemporary services, Dummitt's church features an indoor soccer field, CrossFit gym, indoor play area and a restaurant, according to Outreach.

Willow Creek officials said they spent several hours with Dummitt and his wife before deciding to hire him as the new leader. He will take over for Acting Senior Pastor Steve Gillen.

"Throughout the evaluation process, we continued to see Dave's ability to lead with humility and strength, as well as his passion to equip and empower strong teams," church elders wrote in a message released to the church community Wednesday. "His vision for the health and growth of Willow Creek and the kingdom at large, his high-caliber teaching ability, his humble and down-to-earth personality, and his willingness to engage in restorative work made it clear that he would be a strong fit for this position."

Hybels resigned from the South Barrington-based megachurch in April 2018 in the wake of misconduct allegations made against him by multiple women.

Lead Teaching Pastor Steve Carter announced his resignation August 2018. Carter quit after he said he was "horrified" by a fresh round of allegations against Hybels made by Hybels' former executive assistant, Pat Baranowski, who claimed Hybels repeatedly groped her in the 1980s.

Hybels denied Baranowski's accusations.

Carter's departure soon was followed by Lead Pastor Heather Larson's announcement that she and the entire elder board would depart by the end of 2018.

Dummitt is expected to relocate to Illinois in May and teach his first weekend message at Willow Creek on June 6 and 7, according to Wednesday's announcement. Officials said Willow Creek members will get to know Dummitt, his wife and four children through email, video and social media in the coming weeks.

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