We are incredibly grateful for Gary Schwammlein’s extraordinary leadership and faithfulness in expanding the influence of Christ with faith-centered leaders around the world. As of September 1, 2017, he officially changed roles from Willow Creek Association (WCA) president to president emeritas.
Gary joined the WCA in 1994, after a highly successful thirty-year career at a large multi-national business. He felt God calling him to use his international experience and connections to help churches globally. His vision and tireless work built the infrastructure for the unparalleled global ministry network we enjoy today, working across denominational and cultural lines in 132 countries.
In 2014, around his 70th birthday, Gary was preparing to retire when Bill Hybels implored him to consider serving as WCA president. Despite his initial reluctance, and following a prompting from God to accept the position, Gary engineered a bold new vision to grow The Global Leadership Summit (GLS) and reinvigorate the ministry. Under the four years of his leadership as president, the GLS has experienced exponential growth from 175,000 global attendees to more than 400,000 in 1,225 global and U.S. cities.
Beyond his vision, Gary leads with an intense passion, genuine humility, a positive directness, a commitment to prayer and a disarming sense of humor. He achieved impressive results while, at the same time, building a healthy and thriving culture within WCA staff and global movement.
It was a great honor for our team to create a Grander Vision video about his life, which was recently shared at the 2017 Summit Celebration.
So, many of us are asking, what will Gary be doing in his new role? As president emeritas, he will continue his work with the international ministry at WCA—albeit on a reduced schedule. We are thrilled that the GLS movement will continue to benefit from his passion and wisdom for years to come.
So Gary, on behalf of all who have worked alongside you and felt the influence of your leadership, we would like to say:
We honor you, Gary Schwammlein. Thank you for a job well done in service of the worldwide church on behalf of Jesus Christ. We continue to be blessed by the exceptional way you stewarded your life and ministry. We hold you in the highest regard.