'I Am Guilty of Sexual Immorality ... a Deceiver and a Liar,' Haggard Confesses
In a letter read from the pulpit of Colorado Springs's New Life Church, former pastor Ted Haggard admitted that allegations against him are true.
"The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality," he said. "I am a deceiver and a liar. There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring about it for my entire life. ... The accusations that have been leveled against me are not all true but enough of them are true. ... The things that I did opened the door to additional allegations."
Haggard did not specify what allegations he denies, and did not mention drug use in his letter. On Friday, he told a television reporter that he bought methamphetamine but did not use it. In his letter, he admitted that his statements to the press have been inconsistent.
"I have further confused the situation with some of the things I've said during interviews with reporters who would catch me coming or going from my home. But I alone am responsible for the confusion caused by my inconsistent statements," he said.
Haggard also asked the church to forgive his accuser, Mike Jones, who was unnamed in the letter. "He is revealing the deception and sensuality that was in my life," Haggard wrote. "Forgive him, and, actually, thank God for him."
"Will never return to a leadership role"
On Saturday, the church's overseer board, made up of four pastors from churches around the country, announced that Haggard had been fired from the church.
"In consultation with leading evangelicals and experts familiar with the type of behavior Pastor Haggard has demonstrated, we have decided that the most positive and productive direction for our church is his dismissal and removal."
While the church bylaws state that in cases of immoral conduct the overseers may choose either to "remove the pastor from his position or to discipline him in any way they deem necessary," Overseer Board member Larry Stockstill, pastor of Bethany World Prayer Center in Baker, Louisiana, said the board decided that they would help the church to recover, but that they would not be involved in Haggard's counseling.
"We have decided that we cannot possibly help you and help Pastor Ted like we should at the same time," Stockstill told the congregation. "It was our job not to discipline and restore, but to dismiss Pastor Ted permanently from the senior pastor leadership of this church. That is not a harsh thing. That is in fact a wonderful thing for him."
Stockstill announced that Jack Hayford, pastor of Church on the Way in Van Nuys, California, Tommy Barnett, senior pastor of Phoenix First Assembly of God, and others would oversee Haggard's pastoral care.
While Haggard's letter stated that he and his wife will "will never return to a leadership role at New Life Church," he was referred to as "Pastor Ted" throughout the televised service, and Stockstill told the congregation that Haggard, after getting "full, long-term, therapeutic restoration, one day can minister in the larger body of Christ with joy, with dignity, and with hope in his heart. That is our goal."
A statement from the National Association of Evangelicals' executive committee on Friday similarly said, "We pray that the overseers' ministry to him will lead to his eventual moral healing, restoration in Christ, and service in the Church."
Haggard's letter also defended his wife, Gayle. "What I did should never reflect in a negative way on her relationship with me. She has been and continues to be incredible. The problem was not with her, my children, or any of you. It was created 100 percent by me."Our earlier coverage includes: