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A Warning For Willow Chicago, Part 4: Big Willow Gets Involved

November 29, 2013

You can read this “Public Letter” in it’s entirety here.

You can download this entire “Public Letter” here.

– June 29th 2013: Contacted By Scott Vaudry.

Six days later, on June 29th, we received an email from Scott Vaudry stating that he worked on the “Elders Response Team” and they would like to meet with Tara and I. I told Scott that it was such a relief to hear from someone, and we would like to meet as well. We exchanged some times and dates and settled on July 10th. The meeting would include myself, Tara, Scott, and another member of the Elders Response Team named Chris. Now the pressure was really on for Tara and I. We were nervous, scared and praying fervently that God would bring resolution to this matter.

– July 10th 2013: Meeting With Scott Vaudry and Chris.

Scott let us know in our initial email exchange that the Willow Creek Barrington campus was closed the week of July 1st as a reward from the executive team for such a successful run. With this in mind, we were grateful that Scott made our meeting happen so quickly.

On that morning, we drove nearly an hour to Willow Creek Barrington for our 11am meeting. After about ten minutes of sitting alone in the waiting room outside of Scott’s office, we were greeted by Scott and asked if we needed anything. Chris arrived soon after, and we all sat down and prayed before the meeting.

Both Scott and Chris were very kind, understanding, and considerate. They made it clear that they’d read the “Elder’s Letter”, and Scott asked if any of our sentiments had changed since we wrote it. We told him no, and in not so many words explained that the letter still spoke for itself.

After about a half an hour of healthy Christian dialogue, Scott began to ask me repeatedly in a very firm and direct way, “Where do you get your confidence from”, “What makes you so confident”, etc. I felt as though he was trying to make me question myself. I explained to him that I get my confidence first and foremost from the Holy Spirit, secondly from the Bible, thirdly from the face-to-face meeting with Jon, and finally from thirty-six years of life, which has equipped me to perceive when someone is being deceptive, evasive, dishonest and hypocritical. I also explained that Jon’s Facebook posts spoke for themselves.

Scott would follow up with comments about how the older he gets, the less sure he becomes about things. He talked about how scholars disagree on interpretations of the Bible, making a vague connection with the way different people view homosexuality in relation to the Bible, but then followed it up by saying that he and Chris were conservative on the issue.

It became clear that Scott was initiating the conversation and Chris was there to wisely listen and add in when necessary. Chris was a very mild mannered, thoughtful and genuine man. Tara and I both felt a warmth from him that made us feel like we could be vulnerable, and we were. There was several times in which Tara and I became emotional during the meeting.

Scott explained that while he thought Jon acted inappropriately and could’ve been more careful, he didn’t think Jon was being deceptive or had an agenda. He told us how people could take what Jon said and be confused by it, but he didn’t think Jon did it intentionally. Scott even admitted in our second meeting that what Jon did was “harmful” to the congregation, but didn’t think anything needed to be done to repair that damage.

It was becoming clear that while both Scott and Chris were very concerned, we didn’t agree on the double-mindedness Jon displayed and the severity of his actions. So we asked a couple questions to gain piece of mind and frame of reference. I asked if Bill had read our letter, and Scott responded that he didn’t know. We asked if Jon was aware of the letter, and they said, not that they know of.

We left that meeting with a promise from Scott that they would meet with Jon and get back in touch with us. Even though very little was sorted out in the meeting, we were hopeful that God would be glorified by Willow’s subsequent actions. We hoped that Jon’s meeting with them would create a repentant heart on Jon’s behalf, change Jon’s heart and mind and lead Jon to rectify the “harm” we talked about in our up coming second meeting with Scott and Chris.

If you’d like to discuss this further you can email me at justinobriecht@gmail.com

From → Willow Creek

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