The latest casualty of Colorado’s largest Christian evangelical church is Christopher Beard, whose photo and bio have already been removed from the on-line line-up of 13 all-male executive staffers at New Life Church amid vague charges of “sexual misconduct and other mistakes.”
So now, post-Beard and New Life founder Ted Haggard, 12 senior pastors remain. The Denver Post today reports that Beard, a 9-year employee and the director of twentyfourseven, New Life Church’s leadership training academy, has resigned. From his now-removed biography:
[Beard] has a business degree from Oral Roberts University and a Masters in Christian Counseling. Christopher worked at one of the nation’s leading mental institutions as a psychotherapist before coming to New Life Church and twentyfourseven. Christopher is also the Missions Pastor of New Life Church, and has led mission trips to 53 countries. His heart’s desire is to see young people live effective and successful lives for Jesus Christ.
Rob Brendle, an associate pastor at New Life Church, could not immediately be reached for comment. The Post quoted Brendle saying Beard’s resignation was tied to a “series of decisions displaying poor judgment, including one incident of sexual misconduct several years ago.” Beard wasn’t married then, but is now.
Since Haggard was fired in early November after admitting to buying meth and getting a massage from a male prostitute, the 14,000-member church has encouraged people to report potential “spiritual character” problems involving others at the church, which has a staff of 200.
New Life lists the process for investigating its own on its website:
To assist in both the process of Rev. Haggard’s restoration and the protection of the Church itself, the Overseers are open to receiving current information relevant to either Rev. Haggard’s recovery process or any concerns about New Life Church staff or its leaders. While they cannot promise confidentiality, the Overseers will handle any such information discretely.
Please read the following guidelines that will help you determine what information, if any, would be helpful in this process.
1. The scope of your concern should address current issues regarding Rev. Haggard’s recovery or regarding the ministry or spiritual character of staff or leadership of New Life Church.
2. The information you share must be first-hand, factual, and detailed with as many dates and specifics as possible for your communication to be considered credible (no rumors, please).
3. Please try to limit your communication to no more than 500 words.
While the Overseers will review any information submitted, please understand that there are a variety of reasons that you may not receive a response, including the fact that they may already be aware of your concern.
Details of Beard’s alleged sexual indiscretion have not been identified, but he was reprimanded in 2002 after he armed 50 men and women with fake assault weapons during an hostage training session outside, on the campus of the massive church in northern Colorado Springs. A passing motorist thought the training was real, resulting in a SWAT team being called in. The situation ended peacefully, and Beard was described as having exhibited “poor judgment.”
Cara DeGette is a longtime editor and columnist at the Colorado Springs Independent.