As is well known by now, Howard Schultz, Chairman and CEO of Starbucks, withdrew himself as a speaker at the Leadership Summit this week. Starbucks did not say why, but most speculated it was because of an online petition by an activist group accusing Willow Creek of being “anti-gay.”
Bill Hybels ended that speculation and addressed this issue at the Summit on Thursday. His response is a model of combining graciousness with truth and conviction. Here are two key quotes:
“If the organizers of this petition had simply taken the time to call us, we would have taken the time to explain to them that Willow is not only not anti-gay; Willow Creek is not anti-anybody. Our church was founded on the idea that people matter to God — all people. People of all backgrounds, colors, ethnicities, and sexual orientation. The mat at every door on this campus reads “welcome”. . .
“Now what is true is that we challenge homosexuals and heterosexuals to live out the sexual ethics taught in the Scriptures which encourages full sexual expression between a man and a woman in the context of marriage and prescribes sexual abstinence and purity for everybody else. But even as we challenge all of our people to these biblical standards, we do so with grace-filled spirits, knowing the confusion and brokenness that is rampant in our fallen world.”