Low Tithe At New Life

The Denver Post is reporting that the largest church in Colorado – referred to in the headline as “Haggard’s church” – is laying off 44 people, or about 12 percent of its workers.

“These are all fine people who have served faithfully and have done wonderful work,” Associate Pastor Rob Brendle was quoted saying. “We are simply not able to pay people to do those functions now.”

The drop in income – by an estimated 10 percent – and resulting layoffs may signal another trend that might be in store at the megachurch: it appears to be the first time New Life has not notified the general public on its Website and via mass e-mail whenever a change of some import occurs in the months-long aftermath since former Pastor Ted Haggard was stripped of his position at the church he founded.The news of the layoffs, the Post reports, was announced to the congregation during this Sunday’s services. The last time the church’s Overseer’s weighed in on the state of affairs at the church was on Feb. 18, with a letter, currently posted at New Life’s Website, notifying the public of its findings of an investigation into Haggard, as well as “a few staff members,” who were found to be “struggling with unrelated sin issues.”

“Concerning Ted and his family, we have done extensive fact-finding into his lifelong battle with a ‘dark side’ which he said in his confession letter has been a struggle for years,” the Overseers wrote. “We have verified the reality of that struggle through numerous individuals who reported to us firsthand knowledge of everything from sordid conversation to overt suggestions to improper activities to improper relationships. These findings established a pattern of behavior that culminated in the final relationship in which Ted was, as a matter of grace, caught.”

Among the other findings and reports in the Feb. 18 letter:

• The Overseers “are finding no culture of immorality among the staff here as we might have initially expected.”

• They were continuing their quest for a new, sin-free Pastor Ted to be the permanent new leader.

• Haggard and his wife had expanded the geographic possibilities for their relocation from Colorado Springs, to include Phoenix and Minneapolis as well as Missouri and Iowa.

• The congregation was advised to “Stay in the Ark” for many more months — possibly until Nov. 14, the date that marks exactly one year and 10 days after Haggard was fired.

Meanwhile. this weekend the Colorado Springs Gazette reported that overall revenues at the church increased from $14.4 million in 2003 to $24.4 million in 2005. Expenditures during that time period rose from $13.3 million to $23.4 million. The 2006 figures are not yet available. Haggard was fired in early November in the midst of a gay sex and meth scandal.

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Cara Degette

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