If you would like to raise a concern about an Elder during this 30-day affirmation period, please call 630-682-9797 ext. 1291 or email [email protected].
View all Elder bios below.
In the spring of 2018, Willow Creek entered into one of the most difficult and painful seasons in our church’s history. The events of that season caused us to re-examine and rebuild the leadership of our church, beginning with our Elder Board.
A new Elder Selection Committee (ESC) was formed to prayerfully and thoroughly select a new Elder board, one with the courage, heart, and commitment to see our church through this next chapter.
In August, this team of 26 was formed. Most of us are congregants, some are staff, and two are current Elders. We were given full authority to create this new process and to make all decisions, separate from Willow Creek senior leadership. Our goal was to select an Elder Board that was representative of our entire church community, suited, as individuals and as a team, to this particular unique and challenging season. New guidelines were developed and include the following:
• A minimum of 5 and maximum of 12 individuals on the Elder Board
• Free from any major conflicts of interest
• No entanglement with prior leadership or events
• Background checks (social media and criminal)
• Personality profile
• Staff references
God’s presence was evident and palpable from day one. We were overwhelmed with joy when we saw so many in our Willow community committed to praying for the future of our church and our new leadership. Over 100 congregants were nominated, representing all of our campus locations!
As a team, we developed an in-depth, comprehensive selection approach. There were four phases to this approach, and each nominee was interviewed by a different group of ESC members in each phase. In addition, a personality assessment, social media background check, and criminal report were conducted to gain a more complete understanding of each nominee. Phase 1 focused on alignment with current Elder Statements, time commitment required, emotional health, ability to operate in complex and ambiguous environments, and leadership skills. Phase 2 focused on biblical requirements and functions of an Elder. Phase 3 focused on group chemistry, relational intelligence, and authenticity. Phase 4 focused on integrity and stability in the areas of finances, relational health, and stress.
As we delved deeper into each phase of the process, we examined spiritual maturity, discernment, wisdom, courage, truthfulness, stewardship, and leadership. All our nominees were incredibly high quality people, with a deep love for Jesus and for Willow, and they truly want the best for our church.
As a committee, we were seeking God’s direction and listening for His voice each step of the way. He gave us unity, He gave us clarity, and He gave us discernment throughout the entire process. God has grown our hope beyond words and proven that He is bringing beauty from ashes.
There was a night in this process that we will never forget. All of us—the nominees, current Elders, senior leaders, and the ESC—gathered to hear stories that held both hope and grief, faith and doubt, love and disappointment of our church. We all held our own individual stories yet together, we came together singing “Our God is good.”
Today, we gratefully present 11 individuals who seek to pursue Jesus in all areas of their lives. They have served our church in significant ways for many years. They represent the rich diversity of our church and are highly qualified and willing to work through a challenging future with perseverance, hope, and trust.
We are grateful to have been given a small part to play in this next step for our church. God has always, and will always be faithful. Thank you for your prayers throughout this process, and please continue praying for the new Elders as they serve our church in the years to come.
Dr. Joanna Betancourt has attended Willow Creek South Barrington for 14 years, serving in Promiseland, Elevate, and the Professional Working Women ministry. Her spiritual gifts include wisdom, discernment, and giving.
Joanna is a Board-Certified Pediatrician and Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, who obtained her Physician Surgeon medical degree from the Central University of Venezuela followed by the completion of her residency program at University of Illinois, Chicago. She has been involved in initiatives that promote health and well-being to the underserved pediatric community of inner-city Chicago. She has served on the board of Two Riverside Head Start Agency and Ingage, advocating for childhood education and communities locally and internationally.
Joanna and her husband, Brandon, live in Streamwood with their three children.
Shoji has attended Willow Creek South Barrington for 20 years, serving in both local and global Compassion and Justice ministries. She has also served in Sections, neighborhood communities, marriage, parenting, small groups, discipleship, and evangelism ministries. Her spiritual gifts include wisdom, mercy, and faith.
Shoji is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who has been in practice for over 18 years. She is the owner and Clinical Director of Awakenings Counseling Center. She holds a Master in Counseling Psychology and an Advanced Counselor Certificate in Trauma and Abuse Counseling.
Shoji and her husband, Ryan, live in Algonquin with their two children.
Barb has attended Willow Creek for 25 years and began attending Willow North Shore in 2017. She currently serves with Safe Families and the Prison Ministry, and previously served with human trafficking, global hospitality, neighborhood tables, global serving teams, Promiseland, marriage, Moms through Adoption, and the infertility support group. Her spiritual gifts include wisdom and discernment.
Barb has worked as a corporate training consultant using her MBA in Marketing, Finance, and Strategy and now works as a homemaker and volunteer. She has served on the boards of Christian Heritage Academy, Bethany Christian Services-Chicago, and Park Industries.
Barb and her husband, Marty, live in Mount Prospect and have three children.
Jeff has attended Willow North Shore for 11 years, serving on the prayer team, leading a men’s small group, and as an advisor to the Leadership Advisory Council. His spiritual gifts include teaching, mercy, and intercession.
Jeff is a practicing Interventional Radiologist specializing in Interventional Oncology. He serves on a non-profit board supporting medical education in North Korea.
Jeff and his wife, Ann, live in Long Grove and have three adult children.
Silvia has attended Willow Creek for 18 years, serving as a family pastor and teacher at Casa de Luz and on the Casa de Luz Leadership Advisory Council (LAC) and Latin America Global boards. Her spiritual gifts include teaching, wisdom, leadership, and faith.
Silvia is a Women & Family Life Coach and the Business Director and Home Coach for Escobar Homes at Keller Williams.
Silvia and her husband, Arturo, live in Lake in the Hills and have six children and two grandchildren.
Steve Kang has attended Willow Creek for 8 years and Willow North Shore for 3 years, serving in Promiseland and as a mentor. His spiritual gifts include wisdom, discernment, shepherding, and teaching.
Steve is semi-retired, but works as an independent scholar and spiritual advisor. Previously, he taught at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Gordon-Cornwell Theological Seminary, and Wheaton College. He also served as a pastor in pastoral ministry at a church in the Chicago area. He holds a Bachelor’s degree, an M.Div, MRE degree and a Ph.D. He has served on the boards of Catalyst, Pioneer Clubs, Religious Education Association, and Religious Education (journal), and Society of Professors in Christian Education.
Steve and his wife, Chris, live in Glenview and have two adult children.
Roger has attended Willow Creek South Barrington for 21 years, serving as a discipleship leader, small group leader, service director with Guest Experience, and with sections 103F and 104F at the 11:15 a.m. service. His spiritual gifts include leadership and teaching.
Roger is a Clinical Professor and Director of MS (Master of Science) in Marketing at DePaul University, where he teaches graduate-level courses in Marketing Management and Strategic Planning. Prior to working at DePaul, Roger worked in the Information Technology sector. Roger served on the boards for ASP (Association for Strategic Planning) and GSN (Global Solutions Network). He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics and an MBA.
Roger lives in Algonquin and has two adult children.
Jeff has attended Willow Creek South Barrington for 27 years, serving in Promiseland in the Age 4/Pre-K room. His spiritual gifts include discernment, wisdom, and leadership.
Jeff works as the President of AT&T Capital Services, Inc. and previously served as Chief Financial Officer, Human Resources Vice President, and Regional Director. He has served on the board for the Crystal Lake School District 47 for 14 years, the last six as president.
Jeff and his wife, Karen, live in Crystal Lake and have five daughters, three sons-in-law, and three grandchildren with one on the way.
Michael has attended Willow North Shore for 12 years, serving as a small group leader, prison pen pal, volunteer Baptism coordinator, men’s breakfast speaker, and on the Discipleship board teaching weekly classes. His spiritual gifts include wisdom, teaching, and giving.
Michael is the President of a financial technology firm. He holds a Bachelor’s degree from Bethel University and a MBA in Leadership and Change Management from DePaul. Michael has served on the Discipleship Board for three years, teaching weekly classes for both business and church events.
Michael and his wife, Ashley, live in Lake Forest with their two daughters. Michael grew up with both parents as pastors and has a deep love for reading and teaching on the Christian faith.
John has attended Willow Creek South Barrington for 35 years, with a gap during which he attended university and lived in Michigan and Maryland. He attended Willow Creek Huntley from 2011–2012. He served in Promiseland and as a team strategist on the Willow Huntley Leadership Advisory Council when Crystal Lake launched the Huntley campus. His spiritual gifts include leadership, administration, and giving.
John is a Partner at Clearwater Capital Partners, LLC, with previous experience in strategy, finance, and risk management. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Management from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy and an MBA in Finance from the University of Maryland. He serves on the boards for Clearwater Capital Partners, Cox Family Holdings’, Private Family Foundation & Private Operating Foundation, and National Christian Foundation’s Greater Chicago Advisory Board.
John and his wife, Melissa, live in Barrington Hills and have three adult children.
Mary has attended Willow Creek South Barrington for 8 years, serving in Student Impact, Alpha, and the Prison Ministry. Her spiritual gifts include wisdom, faith, and discernment.
Mary grew up on the south side of Chicago and attended exceptional academic and leadership institutions. She graduated from Culver Academy, studied Cultural Anthropology and Spanish at Davidson College, and spent time abroad researching public health initiatives to combat addiction. She has spent more than 10 years doing project management in non-profit organizations.
Mary lives in Schaumburg with her daughter.