Lots to tweet about at Willow Creek summit

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By Ashok Selvam, Daily Herald Staff

Senior Pastor and Founder Bill Hybels addresses the crowd before Bono and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair speak via videocast at Willow Creek Community Church's annual Leadership Summit.

Did you read the tweets about how Willow Creek Community Church Pastor Bill Hybels challenged U2 frontman Bono about his reluctance to attend church?

Thousands who attended day two of the South Barrington church's 15th annual Leadership Summit made use of the building's Wi-Fi, posting nonstop Twitter updates about interviews with Bono, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, CNN political analyst David Gergen and other speakers.

More than 6,600 people attended the two-day conference at the South Barrington campus. The event also was broadcast to 55 countries in 28 languages; 74,000 people watched it in United States.

A tweet is a short statement posted via cell phone or computer on the Web site Twitter.com. Tweets about Willow Creek ranked in the top five most popular subjects posted on Twitter.com Thursday and Friday.

Twitter.com experienced technical difficulties Thursday and decided to block posts coming from the church's Internet connection in order to eliminate stress to its servers.

Twitter unblocked the church's access Friday morning, church staff said. An e-mail to Twitter seeking comment was not returned.

Bono, sporting orange-tinted glasses, appeared via video; he also was interviewed by Hybels earlier this year.

Hybels said he was shocked by Bono's remarks about the church's apathy toward global poverty and the outbreak of HIV in Africa.

Those comments were made three years ago when Hybels first interviewed the U2 lead singer for the conference.

On Friday, Hybels said God used Bono's "prophetic voice" to awaken many Christians to the problem. Bono said the church now has taken the lead in raising money to supply medicine to citizens of the Third World. The church's reaction also reminded about his time in Ethiopia.

"I woke up in the morning and watched people who walked all through the nights, as the mists lifted, people who walked all through the night and put their children down to die, or they were dead, it was the most astounding thing, and that's 'Where the Streets Have No Name' were," Bono said.

Gergen, who served on the staff of four presidents, appeared in person and broke down the strengths and weaknesses of Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton.

Gergen said Nixon excelled as a strategist, yet allowed his dark side to dictate his actions. Ford's decency made you feel he wouldn't stab you in the back, but he suffered from naiveté. Reagan's optimism was contagious, but his detachment from the job allowed others to make important decisions. Clinton's quick wit and intelligence took him far, but his moral compass led him astray.

Blair also appeared by video and referenced his disdain with his Labour Party's shift toward the left, and said a good leader shouldn't back down from core beliefs,

Willow Creek Association President Jim Mellado said the church has never made a profit from the event since its inception, as the cost of hosting the event - including attracting top-notch speakers - is more than what's generated. Conference tickets cost $185 to $385 in the United States; prices vary in other countries.

Despite the slumping economy, Mellado said attendance is tracking a 10,000 to a 15,000 increase in North America compared to last year.

Copyright © 2009 Daily Herald Inc. All rights reserved.

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This page contains a single entry by Rita published on August 10, 2009 11:03 PM.

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