Willow Creek Community Church's formal relationship with Exodus International has ended.
While the decision to part ways dates back to 2009, news that the South Barrington megachurch had cut ties with Exodus, the world's largest ministry addressing homosexuality, did not surface until late June.
Scott Vaudrey of the elder response team said in writing that Willow Creek's decision was not intended as a social or political statement, but rather an indication of "a season of reviewing and clarifying some of our affiliations with outside organizations."
Alan Chambers, president of Exodus, disagrees. "The choice to end our partnership is definitely something that shines a light on a disappointing trend within parts of the Christian community," he said, "which is that there are Christians who believe like one another who aren't willing to stand with one another, simply because they're afraid of the backlash people will direct their way if they are seen with somebody who might not be politically correct."
Chambers said he sympathizes with Christian organizations that deal with social, political, and financial backlash, but added, "Biblical truth is unpopular, and when you're supporting unpopular truth, you are unpopular too; which means, some days, getting upwards of 10,000 phone calls and emails, and it can be overwhelming."
Willow Creek had been heavily targeted by the group Soulforce, Chambers said, and he believes that the group's 2008-2009 campaign (which included a meeting with pastor Bill Hybels) led to the disassociation.
Willow Creek had affiliated with Exodus throughout the late 1980s and '90s as a church partner. Exodus referred Chicago-area people to Willow Creek's ministries, including the church's "A Safe Place" and "Someone ...