Weekend preview and Willow update

Dear Enews Friends,

I hope you have fun plans for the long weekend ahead—we sure do at Willow! Albert Tate, a passionate and gifted teacher from Monrovia, California, is bringing a timely message for our church during weekend services. His message, “Beginning Again,” will explore the life of Moses through his journey of fleeing Egypt, rebuilding his life, and being called again to another big journey of faith. Bring any out-of-town guests to join us as we enjoy a fantastic time of worship and learning together.

I have now been in my new role for 23 days, and each day has seen a full span of emotions. I’ve been inspired and encouraged by the faith of our staff and congregation—our services have seen a fresh infusion of the Spirit. I know God is in our midst. And yet I‘ve been saddened by the trust that was broken in the preceding months and the pain that many are experiencing—we have a lot of work ahead of us to heal and rebuild trust. Here are a few updates on our progress:

First, we have hired an outside governance expert to review all of our governance structures, and we have dismantled many so that we can rebuild from a fresh foundation. All of our existing Elders are in the process of stepping down, and we are now accepting nominations for new Elders. Prayerfully consider someone you think could fill this role to help lead Willow into the future. You can nominate them here.

After an initial review of our governance model, we identified one part of that system that needs to be restructured: the Elder Response Team. This team of staff and volunteers worked as an extension of the Elders to help our congregation and staff navigate difficult situations with people in their lives. This team’s effectiveness and integrity has served our church well for almost ten years, but its leader pointed out that it is still part of the larger system, and as such, it should be rebuilt. The leader has decided to step down to help create space for us to do this.

We have also experienced some changing staff roles that I want to celebrate. Matt Wright, lead pastor of Willow South Lake, has transitioned to serve as the acting executive pastor at our South Barrington campus. Matt began on staff at Willow North Shore before launching the South Lake campus, and I am thrilled to work alongside him again. Gina Cherian has stepped up to serve as acting lead pastor at South Lake. She is passionate about helping kids, students, and adults find a life-altering, transforming faith and an authentic, thriving community.

God has been so faithful to us in raising up remarkable leaders for the season ahead. I can't wait to see what He has planned for the future of our church.

With you,

Steve Gillen

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