Elder Affirmation

We are pleased to announce that the 2019 Elder Board has been installed. Thank you for your input, participation, and prayers throughout this process. The following individuals are serving as the new Willow Creek Elder Board:

  • Shoji Boldt
  • Barb Butz
  • Jeff Choh
  • Silvia Escobar
  • Steve Kang
  • Jeff Mason
  • Michael Roth
  • John Sleeting
  • Mary Square

Click here to read bios for each Elder.

Final words from the Elder Selection Committee

It has been our privilege to serve for the past four months on the Elder Selection Committee.  Our team of 24 members—16 congregants, 6 staff, and 2 current elders—was formed in September as a response to the need for a new Elder Board that could give Willow a fresh start in leadership starting in 2019. While we didn’t know each other prior to this assignment, and we all came from different backgrounds, we had one thing in common: we all love God and love our church. 

In addition to the biblical qualifications for Elders, which Willow has always upheld, we added several important criteria to the selection process unique to this season. In order to make sure the candidates met and exceeded these expectations, we used a multistep process. Read here and here to learn more about the qualifications and our process:  

  • We wanted to select people in this season who had no ties to those involved in the allegations that surfaced last year.
  • In the process of starting fresh, we didn’t want to sweep away all of the thinking and practice of the past. We believe that it is the future Elders’ place to make those decisions, not a selection committee. On issues on which the Elders have spoken in the past, such as the ability of women to serve in leadership, marriage and divorce, and others covered in Elder statements, we sought to select candidates who aligned with Willow’s positions.
  • We wanted to select a pool of candidates who would reflect the diversity of Willow’s members.

We also used a multistep process to get to this outcome: 

  • We solicited nominees from all congregations of Willow Creek Community Church. You responded generously, faithfully, and thoughtfully by nominating more than 100 candidates.
  • Candidates were invited into the selection process that consisted of a written application, three interviews, reference checks, staff input, social media audit, and personality assessments along with several other in-person interactions.  
  • Each step assessed a different set of qualifications that helped us build a picture of the candidates, always with the question in mind: “Is this a person whom God is calling to serve Willow as an Elder at this unique time?”
  • In order for a candidate to move forward in this process, all 24 Selection Committee members had to agree with the decision.

All the nominees, including those who we decided not to put forward, are outstanding people. We feel humbled by the opportunity to hear their stories.

In early December, we presented 11 candidates to the church. Even though the ESC spent months evaluating and trying to discern who will be on this future Board, we knew the affirmation period would be a critical part of the process in finalizing the Elder Board. You were invited to submit any comments and concerns you might have about these candidates. 

We received input from a number of congregants and staff. Over the past month, we’ve been working with those of you who submitted input and with our Elder candidates to carefully consider all the information provided to us. 

We realize that while our process has been excellent, it has not been perfect.

In hindsight, it was premature to have the Elder candidates be physically present when we announced them the weekend of December 1 & 2 before the process was completed. Waiting until the affirmation period was over to have them physically present would have been much better.  

Additionally, because we were operating on a short timeline, we did not have the process of information gathering fully complete prior to the beginning of the affirmation period, which put each candidate in a difficult position. We learned more about the candidates through our auditing process, in addition to the feedback from the staff and congregation, which better informed our decision on who should serve. Making sure this process was fully complete prior to December 1 & 2 would have eliminated any pain or embarrassment for the candidates. Again, this a lesson on our end, and for any pain it caused our candidates, we are truly sorry. 

During the affirmation period, we realized through the final steps of our process and the comments of congregants and staff that two of our nominees are passionate advocates of social and political causes.

As a general rule, Willow has been very cautious about aligning politically or socially with any party or individual. This is especially important for the role of an Elder, which is a position we believe should not show any favoritism or take any public stance. The role of an Elder is to manage the church and shepherd the people toward Christ. To this end, we prayerfully contemplated and decided to ask 9 of the 11 candidates to officially become the new Elder Board. These were difficult decisions that were made prayerfully and with great care.

The two candidates who did not move forward are exemplary members of our church. They have important things to say and to contribute to crucial conversations in our culture and in our church. We honor them and hope they will continue contributing to our church in other capacities, as we know they have much to offer our church.

We have a group of nine Elders in whom we have great confidence. As individuals and as a group, they meet the qualifications we set out at the beginning of the process. We welcome them into service and invite all of you to support them and pray for them as we seek God’s guidance in navigating the church we love through this next season.