It grieves us to share that we will be closing our Willow Chicago location on February 25. God has been faithful to our church and has used our Willow Chicago location to make a tremendous impact in the city. This decision was incredibly difficult, and we know it greatly affects our Willow Chicago staff, volunteers, and congregation. We want to acknowledge and show appreciation to the tremendous team at Chicago, who have cultivated a beautiful church family with a vision to make an impact in their city—we are committed to walking alongside them well during the coming weeks and months.
We believe good stewardship is one way we honor God, so we regularly review our giving, operating expenses, debts, and reserves as we plan for the future. For years, our Chicago congregation met in a rented theater with the dream of owning a building. After a successful capital campaign, Willow Chicago opened its doors to our current facility on State Street in April 2018.
We had pledges to fund almost the entirety of its purchase with a plan to carry a responsible level of debt in line with the size and budget level of the campus at that time. Since then, Willow Chicago and Willow at large went through significant changes, and the amount of debt being carried for the Chicago facility was too large for the new congregational size and budget. After COVID, we found a creative solution for this: We planned to work with a developer to build up while still retaining some space for church purposes. We have been working on this plan for nearly three years and had identified a potential partner for this project. However, as the economy shifted and interest rates increased, the time frame for this project to come to fruition continued to extend farther and farther out. Even with the strong growth and health we’ve seen at Willow Chicago in the past few years, we were faced with the difficult, but necessary, decision to close.
We have turned over every stone in this process. We have explored selling, renting out spaces, moving, and leasing. And we believe that, while difficult, this is the best decision for our immediate future. The situation at Willow Chicago is unique, considering the size of the debt and congregation size, and we do not have plans or intentions to close additional Willow locations.
For those who have given and made the last six years in this location possible, thank you. We’ve seen new people get connected, lives transformed and faith proclaimed through Baptism, and people take next steps through groups and serving. We are tremendously grateful for the impact made in and through Willow Chicago.
We invite you to pray for our Willow Chicago staff and congregation. This is undoubtedly a loss, and we are committed to pastoring well. We are trusting that good will come from the difficult decision and, regardless of what church we attend, we will be unified as brothers and sisters in Christ, committed to making an impact in our city.
Dave Dummitt, Senior Pastor
Megan Bagnall, Executive Pastor of Campuses
Matt Sundstedt, Executive Pastor of Operations
Thomas Anderson Jr., Willow Chicago Campus Pastor