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Tim Chambers held his son while waiting for his wife and daughter to finish dressing for church. He tightened his embrace—a few moments of comfort before the unprecedented service. "Daddy, why is Pastor Ted's picture there?" six-year-old Simeon asked, pointing to Ted Haggard's picture on CBS News Sunday Morning.

"Well," Tim said, searching for answers. "Because he's not going to be our pastor anymore." Haggard had been the family's pastor for almost ten years. "We love Pastor Ted, but he's going to move away."

A mile away, New Life's auditorium filled with more than 7,500 people. Tim and Dacia Chambers sat in the fifth row—not their usual seat. Tim put his arm around Dacia as the "family meeting" began.

Tim, a 43-year-old IT manager for Compassion International and son of a Baptist preacher, had been in the front row before for another church's crumbling. Dacia, a 41-year-old homemaker and former nurse, grew up in a small church. "We knew the dirt on everybody," she said. When they moved to Colorado Springs and found New Life, the anonymity of its large size appealed to them at first.

Three days earlier, Tim had been hunched over his computer at Panera Bread when Dacia called crying. Oh, no, Tim thought. Who died?

News of the allegations against Haggard launched them into a surreal week, hitting Tim, he said, like a gut punch reminiscent of 9/11. Impossible, they thought, but what if it's true? No. The phone rang and rang. They met with friends, prayed, called their small group, worshiped God, and cried. They grieved for the Haggard family, for their church family, and for their own hurt, as they tried to hang on through the rollercoaster of a changing story.

Seeing media camped in the church parking lot triggered Tim's ...

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The Pain at New Life
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January 2007

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