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Willow Creek Elders Letter

Below is the letter I sent to Bill Hybels.

(Certain portions have been removed from the letter to protect innocent parties)

You can download the entire Elders Letter here.

 Executive Summary

I write you today out of great concern, sadness and disappointment in regards to Jon Klinepeter. My name is Justin Obriecht, and my wife Tara and I have been members of Willow Chicago for a little over a year. My wife and I have been agonizing over writing you this letter for weeks. However the Holy Spirit is convicting us to describe to you what we’ve experienced. This letter will include digital proof of all our concerns. Our motivations for writing you are to do God’s will, have Jon removed as pastor, and in turn strengthen Willow Chicago.

In the following pages we’ve digitally documented eight instances of Jon posting counter biblical messages to his Facebook and Twitter accounts. We also have digital documentation of his personal comments in relation to those posts. Comments that we believe are measured, deliberate, public and deceptive attempts to push his personal agenda of normalizing and condoning homosexuality in the church, while appearing to fall in line with Willow’s Elder’s statement and the Bible.

We’ve also described in detail the Matthew 18 process that we’ve followed and will continue to follow. A process that is months long and has included prayer, my wife and I meeting with Jon personally, and extensive counseling and advisement from other Christians in regards to this letter and the process itself.  The meeting referred to in this letter between Jon, Tara and I was over an hour long and we’ve done our best to describe the tone and details of that meeting in the following pages.

Finally, we’ve included our personal story because we believe it to be an intricate part of understanding our heart and motivations for the actions we’re taking.

We thank you for taking the time to understand our concerns, and we pray that you’ll see our heart in this matter.

Sincerely,

Justin and Tara Obriecht

Dear Board of Elders and Pastor Hybels,

The impetus for writing this letter started about two months ago. About this time some of our Christian friends, including members of Willow, began asking us why Willow rarely talks about homosexuality. We’d try to justify it by saying, “there’s no reason to preach on the most polarizing issues”, or mention that Bill has spoken on it and Willow’s position is clear. They’d retort with, “We know Bill’s talked about it, but don’t you think Jon should too? Seeing as how he’s in downtown Chicago and it’s a prominent issue in the area, not to mention same sex marriage being on the front page?”  We’d again rationalize it and smooth things over, but after a while our Spirit started to convict us on this issue. We realized that we didn’t know why this biblical topic seemed so hands off for Jon and Willow Chicago.

As I defended Jon and Willow, I’d sit there and think about the second meeting I had with Jon around April of 2012. It was soon after I’d come to Christ, about six months before all of these questions were raised. Most of the meeting consisted of me trying to talk him into seeing that the Bible really isn’t against homosexuality. Even though I’m not LGBT, and have never participated in any sort of relationship or sexual experience with someone of the same sex, I came armed with a lifetime spent in the gay community and dozens of gay friends and family members. I also had an audio message by a pastor from the south, who had the most compelling argument I’d heard for rationalizing away what I’d always called the seven clobber passages. I couldn’t understand how the behavior and lifestyle of my honest, caring, committed LGBT friend’s, wasn’t compatible with the Bible and the God whose love I could feel so strongly.

So after throwing every argument in the book at Jon, he finally said, “I hear what you’re saying, but I can’t quite get there”. In other words, I had what seemed like good points, but they didn’t line up with scripture, and he was siding with the Bible. That meeting changed a lot of things for me and I started reading the Bible closely on the subject.

I started to see God’s Truth on the matter. I thought about all the people that I’d sent that counter Biblical audio message to, and realized how much damage I’d done. I repented and decided the only way my friends would be free from this slavery is through Jesus Christ and any avoidance or watering down of His Word would only deceive them further. That my support for my friends was still in full effect, but I would be doing the opposite of loving them, if I didn’t tell them the whole Truth when the Holy Spirit led me to do so.

So for the next couple months I continued researching the issue not only Biblically but also scientifically, and socially. I learned everything I could. While I was doing this research I never once related it to Jon or Willow. I simply wanted to understand the issue in order to help my LGBT friends in a Biblical, loving and compassionate way.

Completely unrelated but parallel to my research, I slowly and organically became friends on Facebook with some of the staff, worship team and congregation at Willow. It was great to get to know people on a more personal level that I’d seen on stage for months.

The “meeting” described in the rest of this letter, included Jon, Tara and myself, and it occurred on Tuesday April 30th 2013. The meeting was at our request, and we ended up having about an hour and half lunch together.

In March of 2013, I noticed a comment (not related to homosexuality) by Jon on the Willow Chicago Facebook page. I hadn’t seen comments from Jon in the past, but I’d only been on the page a couple times over the last month or so. I was surprised and delighted to see that Jon had a personal Facebook page. By this time Tara and I had made the conscious decision to focus on the positive, and on the work God was doing at the church and in our lives, instead of the mixed messages we’d witnessed from Willow Chicago on the issue of homosexuality.

So I sent Jon a friend request, and the next time I went on Facebook, I noticed he’d accepted my request. I proceeded to look at his page in the same manner I do with every new friend. It didn’t take long before I was in complete shock by this posting, the article it contained and most of all, Jon’s comments. As you can see in the link, his comments are as follows, “A fascinating read. This is not any endorsement of a political group or idea. So if you’re going to be rude in comments below, please reconsider. Rudeness will negatively affect our electronic friendship status 🙂

I couldn’t understand what a Christian pastor would find “fascinating” about an article urging Republicans to get on the counter Biblical, gay marriage bandwagon in order to win elections. I also couldn’t understand why he would insult his reader’s intelligence by intentionally putting a passive aggressive disclaimer in the form of “This is not any endorsement of a political group or idea”. Anyone that’s met Jon, knows he’s anything but naïve, and certainly not naïve enough to think a disclaimer like that is appropriate after posting the most politically charged article he could find. And finally the passive aggressive smiley face and veiled threat of a negatively impacted friendship to persuade people to fall in line was so divisive.

This posting, the article, and Jon’s double-minded sentiments toward it, tied all of the promptings from the Holy Spirit together. Promptings from God, we hoped would go away. It was clear that even though Tara and I wanted to let this drop, God didn’t, and he wanted us involved.

So I continued to look through Jon’s page and I couldn’t believe my eyes. There was post after post, article after article and video after video, ranging from sympathetic to the worldly cause of condoning and normalizing homosexuality and same sex marriage, to flat out making God’s plan for marriage look like a joke. I was so alarmed and disturbed. I showed Tara, and she had the same reaction. We consulted the same group of advisors we’d talked to in the past, which included leaders from other churches, members and staff of Willow, and our Christian friends and family. They were shocked.

While I’m not sure of the chronological order of the postings since Jon has selectively and strategically removed some of his posts since our meeting, I don’t think the timing is relevant. Here is a list of what I found.

In an effort to save time, I will not discuss every post Jon made. I will simply include them at this point in order to show the cumulative nature of his posts. As you’ll read about in detail later, Jon told us that he “has no position on gay marriage”. It’s our hope that seeing his posts in one place will help you understand why we believe that not to be the case. Please keep in mind that the posts not discussed aren’t all that concerning on their own, they’re only included to show the clear position Jon has on this issue. There were no posts made by Jon in four years supporting the Biblical position on homosexuality or marriage. Please be patient with the links opening. Once you click the link, it could take as much as twenty seconds to open.

1.Wow! A lot of my Facebook friends are super into math today… but I bet the plus and minus sign feel totally left out.” –This post has been removed since our meeting, and I don’t have a screen shot of it.

2. Dan Kathy article.    Article – This is an amazing article that alone would have been something that could help people understand each other. It’s been included in this letter in an effort to be transparent and thorough, while showing the cumulative nature of the posts and to also show that the issue of homosexuality is something Jon has a definite position on.

3. Ellen DeGeneres video.   Video -This is one of the posts that Jon has removed from his page since our meeting. The two he’s removed so far were obscure and pretty much harmless compared to the rest of the material.

4. While not about the topic at hand, this post was also concerning. Did Jesus have a wife?     Article.

For the remainder of the posts the format will be…

A. The date and name of the article or video.

B. A link to a screen shot of the actual post on Facebook or Twitter.

C. A link to the article or video in the Facebook post.

D. Jon’s comments.

E. A Christian Perspective.

 

  1. A. 2/22/13- Republican Governor calls for same sex marriage support.

B. Facebook link.

C. Article.

D. Jon’s Comments- “A fascinating read. This is not any endorsement of a political group or idea. So if you’re going to be rude in comments below, please reconsider. Rudeness will negatively affect our electronic friendship status :-)”

E. A Christian Perspective- This has been discussed above.

  1. A. 12/3/2009- NYS Senator Diane Savino speaks on the marriage equity bill.

B. Facebook link.

C. Video.

D. Jon’s Comments- “I tend to stay out of political debate on my Facebook page, because I can’t stand the unkind way most people communicate, in faceless dialogue, with little regard for respect and value. So I’m not posting this as a debate tool. Instead, I’m posting it because I believe it is one of the most respectful, wise arguments I have ever heard in the political arena. If I were a New Yorker, I would be proud that this kind of dialogue is going on in my state. PS. Hateful rebuttal will be erased :-)”

E. A Christian Perspective- Long story short, the Senator is saying traditional marriage or God’s plan, is a joke, so blasé and cheap, so broken, that what are we really trying to protect? She explains how a committed homosexual relationship is something to be envied. When the truth is, fornication and adultery in a committed relationship, is just as destructive and sinful as a committed homosexual relationship. Jon finds that sentiment wise. He finds it respectful. Respectful to whom? Certainly not to God.

This was posted almost four years ago and three years before the previous article. This is more than a year before Jon came to Willow. And Jon again makes it clear that it’s not up for discussion, since he’s “not posting it as a debate tool”. It’s clear that homosexuality is not a blind spot for Jon. This is something close to his heart. There is no doubt in my mind that with any amount of discussion, the reason for that closeness would become very clear, and it has nothing to do with Jon’s sexual preference. However, this closeness has clearly clouded his view of scripture and his ability to shepherd Christ’s flock. As dark as that cloud has become, I’m less concerned with his “interpretation” of scripture than I am the public, intentional and deceptive ways in which he tries to hide and push his view of scripture on his congregation. This intentional deception and walking of a tight rope is unacceptable from anyone, nonetheless a pastor.

  1. A. 1/15/13- Steve Chalke Drops the Bomb in Support of Committed, Faithful, Same-Sex Relationships. / Red Letter Christians

B. Twitter Link.

C. Article.

D. Jon’s Comments- None.

E. A Christian Perspective- In our face-to-face meeting on April 30th, Jon volunteered that he was “very familiar” with Tony’s Campolo’s (author of the article) theology and agreed with it. This was also evident by how quickly Jon corrected my definition of a Red Letter Christian, the organization that Tony started. Consider viewing the following links in order to get a better feeling not only for their theology, but also the theology that Jon admittedly identifies with and defended to me, here, here, and here. In the main article posted by Jon on his twitter account, next to letter C above, Tony gives light lip service to being “conservative on the issue” at the very end of the article. This is following paragraph after paragraph of pretty much making any one feel like an idiot if they didn’t support gay marriage and get out of the Stone Age.

Tony’s deceptive style eerily resembles Jon’s style of writing and saying one thing, while barely staying aligned with his proclaimed morals and beliefs. Eerie because I was at the business end of some of the arguments that Tony and Steve (the pastor the article is about) made in this article during our meeting with Jon a few weeks ago.

Like the article, I must have heard five times about how the church isn’t concerned about divorced individuals (Jon knew I was divorced), why should it be concerned about homosexual individuals? I wish I had explained to Jon that the church is very concerned about divorced individuals. I could have pointed to the fact that Willow has entire ministries devoted to preventing divorce, and healing and consoling divorcees. I could have asked Jon why there’s no ministry dedicated to homosexuality, an equally destructive, painful and widespread sin?

What I did explain to Jon is that 99% of divorcees hate divorce; Born Again Christian divorcees are almost always immensely repentant, unlike most homosexuals. Finally, I explained that divorcees don’t usually go around bragging about their divorce or posting on Facebook how it should be made easier, how it’s normal, how it’s not that damaging, how laws should be passed to make it more acceptable, or how divorce being deemed damaging is all a matter of interpretation.

Not to mention, there are several Biblical reasons for divorce and none for homosexuality. I’d also be interested to hear Jon, Tony and Steve’s opinion on adultery, and if it’s ok to have an emotional or romantic connection to someone other than their spouse, as long as they’re not intimate, as many people condone for homosexuals in the church.

The whole idea of supporting, condoning or trying to rationalize an institution (same sex marriage), who’s sole purpose is to provide a long term, “safe”, “loving” committed environment for the repetitive, sinful, on going, “enjoyment” of acts that are detestable to God, makes no sense, especially coming from Jon, Steve and Tony.

Since the audience for this letter is well versed Biblically, I’ve decided not to include a scriptural foundation to back up my concerns. However I think the founders of the “Red Letter Christians” should pay special attention to Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:7 “Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come!”

In my opinion rationalizing Paul to be in favor of homosexuality as the article attempted, is more than something that could make someone stumble, it’s heresy. And it’s something Jon felt should come from his twitter account.

At one point in our meeting I asked Jon to help me understand what he would do if a legally married gay couple wanted to join the church. He said, “I would let them join”, I said, “ok”. I then asked him, “would you be actively trying to help them dissolve that “marriage”, and to move them away from the sin that relationship harbors”? He said “no”. To me those answers don’t compute. So you’re going to let two members of your flock stay in a very obvious and public sinful condition and not do anything about it. You’re going to allow their union to make a public mockery of the Bible and God’s plan in His house, and not take any action to help them?

The public, obvious and unrepentant nature of homosexuality is the differentiator when comparing it to other sins in society and especially in a church setting. In most cases people don’t walk into church with their mistress. They don’t post on their Facebook page about how great their adulterous relationship is going. People don’t wear shirts announcing they’re divorced, and there’s nothing wrong with it and they’re proud of it. Premarital sex is not only something that most people keep quite in the church, but many times if a person in a leadership position partakes in such behavior; they’re removed from that role.

This is for their own good as Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 5:5. So do we not love gay people enough to at least tell them the Truth and not ignore and normalize their pain? Hidden, slight and unintentional bigotry is the worst. By condoning or not talking boldly about homosexuality in the church, we’re enabling it.

Many people like to marginalize the above paragraphs by claiming that people are born gay. Even if this is the case, it doesn’t excuse them of the responsibility to recognize their sin, seek Christ to remove it, and in the absence of sanctification, control their behavior. We’re all born sinners, and we all have the same responsibilities as homosexuals when it comes to controlling and eliminating sin from our lives.

So if the church isn’t helping them identify their sin, who will? How do we expect them to repent of it and ask Jesus to remove it? Sure Christ can do anything, but are we really following his commands to be the salt and the light, when our light is under a bowl and our salt has lost its saltiness?

There are secular groups, facilities and programs to help with all sorts of sin that are doubled up by the church. Some of these include Divorce, addiction, financial responsibility, homelessness, re-entry for inmates, battered women, and help for disabled individuals. Now the fact that these are doubled up by the church is a beautiful thing, but where is the hope, love and help for homosexuals?

Secular society has no help for them, because the world doesn’t recognize that they need help. So the only group who can help them, the church, has decided it’s too controversial and offensive to be bold in God’s Truth.

Being neutral, silent or double minded on this issue is not an option for Christians and especially pastors. It’s an issue that’s at the core of God’s plan for marriage, children, reproduction and family. This also automatically puts it at the core of Christianity. When pastors are silent from the pulpit or without a public clear position on this sin, they’re doing the gay community and LGBT individuals a disservice.

After I posed the question to Jon about a married couple wanting to join the church, I asked him about same-sex couples adopting children. Before he could answer I wanted to optimistically guide his response, and tell him about the mountains of research that proves how important it is for a child to have a mother and father. How it’s God’s plan and that should be all I have to say to my pastor. I thought for sure he’d say something like “you’re absolutely right” or “I couldn’t agree with you more”. Instead I heard about how much child abuse goes on in traditional marriages, and how once all the children are adopted, then we can start to worry about it. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing.

I know that some of the actions taken by Jon and the people he identifies with theologically can be slight and diluted, but it’s that way on purpose, please use your discernment to read between the lines.

  1. A. 4/29/13- NBA player Jason Collins says he is gay.

B. Facebook Link.

C. Article Link.

D. Jon Comments- “This article is really well done. I recommend reading it. It provides understanding and insight that are so important in the time we live.”

E. Comments by others on his post here and here.

F. A Christian Perspective- This article was posted by Jon on 4/29/13, the day before he knew he had a meeting with Tara and I.  A meeting that was initiated by us in the form of the following email: Tara and I were hoping to get an hour of your time to discuss gay marriage and how we and our church should feel about it. ­­­

We have a lot of questions and confusion on the issue and have discussed it with our small group and many other members of the church, and they’ve all suggested we talk to you since it seems to be a complicated issue. 

Now even though the above article isn’t about gay marriage, it’s certainly revolves around homosexuality. It seems a little bold and even tacky to post something like this the day before a meeting with two clearly confused members of your church. Not to mention how we also stated in our email that many more were confused.

At one point in the meeting I told Jon that I’d printed off Willow’s “Elder Statement on Biblical Standards For Marriage, Singleness and Sexual Practices.” (Elder Statement) He immediately and boldly pointed out that “he helped write much of it”. I now wonder why someone with “no position” on an issue became involved in writing the definitive statement for the church?

By this time we’d explained to him how concerned we were about his Facebook posts and that we were very familiar with them. At one point I was forced to pull out my phone and directly quote his comments as he tried to say, “It was all a misunderstanding and that we were misinterpreting things”. Once he was clear that we knew exactly what he’d posted I asked him, “How does what you posted, line up with the Elder’s Statement?” He confidently stated, “Nothing he posted was incongruent with the Elder’s Statement”. This along with everything else told me that he knew exactly what he was posting at the time he made those posts. He’d thought it out and deliberately walked the personal agenda and Biblical tightrope.

I then explained to him how they were very incongruent. During the meal I realized that the only answer we’d received from Jon about his stance on gay marriage was, “he had no position”. I asked him to help me understand, how a pastor with no position, ends up posting eight items to Facebook and Twitter that are counter Biblical and clearly in favor of homosexual behavior and same-sex marriage? He disagreed with my view of what he posted.

So I decided to ask him point blank for about the fifth time in forty minutes if he was in favor of same-sex marriage. Now the answer had changed. He said, “I helped write that statement (elders statement), you can read what it says”. So I asked him at least two more times successively, and each time he would only refer to the document. He would not say he’s against same-sex marriage under any circumstances. Like I said before, when I pressed him on same-sex adoption, he told me about the abuse that happens in traditional marriages and that as long as there were kids to be adopted it was a moot point. When pressed on homosexuality itself, he would talk about all the different interpretations of the Bible and what Willow stance was, but never his own.

So after we’d gone around and around several times almost begging him intellectually and spiritually to do the right thing he finally said, “I’m sorry you guys misinterpreted what I posted”. We were offended but didn’t show it. Tara calmly explained that we were far from the only ones. And he again repeated his apology.

He said, “I’ll be more careful in the future, and be clearer about what I’m saying”. After over an hour of optimistically begging him to make his position clear and line up with the Bible, after trying to rationalize with him and give logical and Biblical arguments as to why he was misguided, after recognizing that our worst fears were unfortunately coming true, I finally was left with no choice but to take this matter to you.

So I told Jon I was taking this to the elders. His face and demeanor immediately changed, and so did the energy in the room. Not in a rude or distasteful way. Jon was still his pleasant and respectful self, but you could clearly feel a different tension in the air. Things went from a little light hearted to very serious. You see, by that point we’d been debating in a very Christian but passionate way for about an hour or more. These aren’t topics Jon takes lightly, he knows his talking points and he knows where he stands. The problem is it’s not with the Bible, God or Willow Creek and he knows it. He knows how to mask that dichotomy very well, and he also knows how to take conversations in different directions as needed.

Soon after telling him we’d be going to the elders, we all finished lunch in a pleasant but tense way. We then walked together a little awkwardly back to the Ministry Center a couple blocks away. Tara was spending that afternoon there as she does every Monday and Tuesday. On the walk Jon was silent and in deep thought until he offered to put us in touch with the elders directly. I said that wouldn’t be necessary. I didn’t say it, but in my mind, it wasn’t offered in the right spirit. When we arrived at the ministry center we all shook hands and went on our separate ways.

Tara and I then took a walk to discuss things before I left. She was scared we would have to voluntarily leave Willow, and it killed me to see her like that. We were both really disappointed and couldn’t understand why it was so hard for Jon to say what he believed. We barely got a straight answer out of him the whole meal.

Since our meeting, Jon has either removed or made private several of his posts. And we have not been contacted in any way.  

******We’ve removed a large part of this letter to protect a few innocent people negatively affected by Jon’s inappropriate decisions.******

Tara and I

As I said in the executive summary, Tara and I feel that this part of the letter is very important. While it doesn’t pertain directly to the issue at hand, it does show our heart and the love we have for Willow and Jesus Christ. When people come out firmly against homosexuality in the church, it’s easy to feel as if those people have personal agendas or biases, and our hope is that by reading the remainder of this letter, that idea will be extinguished in relation to Tara and I. As I stated before our only agenda is to do God’s will, and to remove Jon for the benefit of Willow Chicago. We truly hope that Jon can be restored at some point in the future, but as of now his removal is the only option.

My life was turned upside down in the most amazing way on 3/27/12 when I gave my life to Jesus Christ. You can learn more about my testimony here. Even though I was burning for The Lord, I had no clue where to attend church. I hadn’t been in church without my mom and it being Easter for about twenty years. A friend of mine suggested Willow Chicago. So I attended my first service. I realized immediately that the music really moved my Spirit, but I still wasn’t sure I was in the right place. Then Jon Klinepeter, who I later learned to be the head pastor, got up and introduced Bill Hybels on the big screen. I had no idea who he was, or what he was going to say. All I knew is that after spending the last twenty years of my life as an anti-theist, I was very cautious when it came to pastors.

So as I sat there thinking, “here comes another smooth talker”, Bill said about five words and I found myself in tears as my new found friend, the Holy Spirit, convinced me I was hearing and seeing the real deal. I instantly knew I’d be a member of Willow Creek for the rest of my life. For months after this, for reasons I still don’t understand, anytime I would hear or think about Bill, I would be on the verge of tears. Luckily that has subsided, but I’m still very moved by the messages Bill delivers each weekend.

To be clear, we have no idols, not Willow, not Bill, no one and nothing. Our faith rests solely on the blood of Jesus Christ and Him crucified. We do however have a lot of love for Jon, Willow, Bill and our countless friends, both on the staff and in the congregation.

So after I knew Willow would be my home, Jon baptized me, and my future wife Tara began her own spiritual journey. This ended when she gave her life to Christ as you can read about here. From there we got married on July 22, 2012, and we’ve been so blessed in so many ways.

We have since founded and operate two Christian ministries. The first one is dependent on Willow and is called Worthy of Work. You can read more about it here. The second is called Christ Cares Ministries, which is a Christian Ministry incubator.

I tell you all this in order to show how much we care about Christ, Willow Chicago, and Jon Klinepeter. Until about a month ago, we both loved and respected Jon and couldn’t believe how great he was for our church. While we still love him, the respect has waned significantly. I personally met with Jon twice early in my walk. I enjoyed our conversation so much, that I came home to tell Tara how fast time flew by and how comfortable I felt. Tara has also met with Jon personally and he did a great job answering her questions early in her walk.

Conclusion

As I’ve said, we’ve discussed this with a multitude of counselors throughout this process and since the meeting. Before the meeting one of them suggested that we handle this as Matthew 18 prescribed, and this is the way we’ve decided to move forward. The two of us have brought our concerns to Jon. And except for an apology for our “misunderstandings”, and a promise to be more careful moving forward, it didn’t resolve anything. We also have not been contacted since our meeting with Jon. So we’ve added a step before bringing it to the church, which is bringing it to the elders who represent the church.

I feel compelled to say, this is not about Jon’s interpretation of scripture or theology, even though they are serious concerns. It’s about Jon’s public and damaging practice of deliberately and deceptively masking his motives and “theology”. It’s about his public double-mindedness on a very important Biblical issue. It’s about the damage that public luke warmness does to the Kingdom of God, God’s children, Willow and the LGBT community. This is the type of situation that can arise for a church in the absence of a clear, hard, public, and regularly talked about stance on all of God’s Truth.

At the end of the day I hope you can see this isn’t about content, quality or the amount of posts or articles, it’s about intent. At a glance it could appear as though I scoured Jon’s online identity and over the years I found a couple of accidental lapses of judgment. It could be said he didn’t have all the answers at a meeting, he posted a couple things that were misconstrued, he should have taken a more Biblical stance, etc… However the reality is he had all the answers, and he knew exactly how to phrase them. He measured each post and conversation against Willow’s elder’s statement to make sure he walked that tight rope perfectly.

So after writing this letter and running it by a handful of Christians to make sure that it lines up with their Spirit, I’m sending it off to you with high hopes and expectations. Hopes that you’ll be prayerful about this situation and present it to God. Hopes that the record can be set straight on homosexuality from the Willow Chicago stage at a service in the near future. Hopes that you’ll remove Jon Klinepeter from Willow in the least harmful way possible.

We see no other resolution for this situation. As I stated, this isn’t a blind spot for Jon this is an intentional and measured deception. A pastor should be beyond reproach and Jon is no longer in that position. We feel that while Jon claims to pride himself on transparency, he’s been anything but in his agenda and pastoral duties at our church.

Sincerely,

Justin and Tara Obriecht.

4 Comments
  1. Ann Fredericks permalink

    This is a very brave letter! It’s so awesome to see young Christians filled with the boldness of the Holy Spirit! I hope all turned out well for you and your wife, while I don’t attend any willow churches thank you for your heart for the body of Christ!

  2. June permalink

    Dear Writer,

    You have no idea the damage you have done, not to Jon, but to yourself. Time and time again, I have seen the church inflict harm upon their pastor. You will recognize in due time the error of your ways. God will forgive you, but you will be held accountable for your actions. You see, it was not up to you to avenge the church. That job is God’s and God’s alone.

    • Hi June, Thanks for your thoughts and concern. I’m a bit confused by your note. Did you have a chance to read the whole thing? Did you feel as though Jon did any damage? If so what should be the repercussions of that? Also how do you interpret Matthew 18:15 in regards to “going to the church” and 1 Timothy 5:19-20? It might be easier to discuss this via email so we can understand each other better in the interests of unity in the body of Christ. My email is justinobriecht@gmail.com

      May the peace of Christ rule in your heart!

  3. Jordan permalink

    Sorry to hear that Justin, I had a similiar issue with a Pastor of the college I was at, to make a long story short this pastor lied to my face several times and tried playing games with me, It upsets me so much to see manipulative people who claim the name of Christ, especially those in positions of authority. Of course I will say this though, judging from the pastors facebook, to me he clearly seems liberal, You know I don’t think it’s a coincidence that most of the Pastors and Churches nowadays that are embracing things like homosexuality, are the same churches that embrace Contemporary Christian Music and Modern Bible Translations, you will hardly ever find a Conservative music and KJV only church do that. maybe that’s just something I’ve noticed

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