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Willow Creek Community Church announces new leadership

Former Willow Creek Community Church Senior Pastor Bill Hybels | Provided photo

Former Willow Creek Community Church Senior Pastor Bill Hybels | Provided photo

Willow Creek Community Church, a megachurch founded in 1975, has announced a new leadership structure.

Senior Pastor Bill Hybels, who started the Christian church in Palatine, plans to leave the church staff in October 2018. The church, now based in South Barrington, has grown to eight locations in the Chicago area and is one of the largest megachurches in the country.

Hybels is not passing the baton to a single person. Instead, two newly created positions will fill the gap, the church said in a news release. The succession plan was announced to church members Saturday.

Heather Larson, 42, will serve as lead pastor. In her previous role as executive pastor of the church, Larson oversaw 350 employees and annual revenue of $77 million, the church said.

The other newly created position will go to Steve Carter, 38, who will serve lead teaching pastor. For the past five years Carter has worked as Hybels’ teaching associate.

Hybels, who will turn 66 in December, plans to devote more attention to the Global Leadership Summit, which he launched in 1995 to train faith leaders. The summit has featured several well-known figures over the years, including former President Bill Clinton and U2’s lead singer Bono.

According to the church, it draws 25,000 attendees each week at its locations in Chicago, Glenview, South Barrington, Crystal Lake, Huntley, Lincolnshire and Wheaton.

ve Carter (left) and Heather Larson will take on new leadership roles at Willow Creek Community Church.

Steve Carter (left) and Heather Larson will take on new leadership roles at Willow Creek Community Church. | Provided photos