And now for the latest segment from As the Haggard Turns. This episode is called, “Stay in the Ark.” First the highlights, then the Feb. 18 letter from the church Overseers to the congregation.
• Further investigation has determined that Ted Haggard actually may not be “completely heterosexual” after all. Numerous individuals have reported a “pattern of behavior” over time that includes “everything from sordid conversation to overt suggestions to improper activities to improper relationships.”
• In other words, they’re going to be keeping track of Haggard for a long, long time.
• The Overseers report: “We have found a few [church] staff members struggling with unrelated sin issues.”
• Still, to their relief, the Overseers “are finding no culture of immorality among the staff here as we might have initially expected. ”
• They’re still looking for a new, sin-free Pastor Ted to be the permanent new leader.
• Haggard and his wife have expanded the geographic possibilities for their relocation from Colorado Springs, to now include Phoenix and Minneapolis as well as Missouri and Iowa.
• The rest of us are being 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.
See the full letter below.
February 18, 2007
Dear New Life family and friends,
On November 1, 2006, we, as the Board of Overseers for this church, were called upon by the moral default of your former pastor. We have worked diligently since then to restore both Ted and New Life Church.
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. 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. We learned most of those circumstances through confidential pastoral communications that, because of their pastoral character, cannot be disclosed.
However, it was the opinion of the Overseer Board and Restorer Board that our initial action of removing Ted from leadership was not only warranted, but also merciful to him and to the church.
Some of you have wondered why Ted had to leave this church. You know that Ted had an enormous personality. As hard as this action appears, it is the considered and unanimous judgment of the Restorers and Overseers that Ted’s presence is so large and his wrongful conduct so tangled that this church and its leadership would become distracted by his continuing presence. For the sake of Ted’s restoration, it is best for him to move out of Colorado Springs for the recovery of his personal family life and his personal Christian life.
Ted and Gayle have agreed to this counsel and are cooperating fully.
After much prayer and consultation, and after seeking input from the Restorers and Overseers, the church’s Board of Trustees has fairly and compassionately decided to support the Haggard family throughout 2007.
This act of Christian love will provide professional care, counseling, and the financial support they immediately need to continue in their journey of recovery. Ted and Gayle will soon relocate and find a local church to attend and other professional support in their new location. The Overseers and Restorers will continue to provide guidance and direction for Ted and his family.
Also, the Trustees graciously provided the funds for Ted and Gayle to participate in 21 days of analysis and counseling that offered new insights consistent with our initial findings. That time of counseling was quite helpful to Ted and Gayle, and is simply the launching point by which years of counsel and fruits of true repentance may be demonstrated.
There should be no confusion that deliverance from habitual, life-controlling problems is a “journey” and not an “event.” Ted will need years of accountability to demonstrate his victory over both actions and tendencies.
Concerning New Life and the church family, we have been most pleased with the quality of leadership we have witnessed in the elders, the trustees, and the senior staff. In addition, the entire staff of New Life is cooperative and amazing. This church has the potential of fulfilling its dream of “passion for God and compassion for people.”
While our investigation is not complete, I can report that we have found a few staff members struggling with unrelated sin issues. Each such person has been confronted and has submitted to discipline. Based upon what we presently know, we believe that the general culture of this church today is Christ-centered and holy. This process has taken huge amounts of our time to interview, gather facts, and track down rumors. It is not finished. To our relief, we are finding no culture of immorality among the staff here as we might have initially expected.
We, the Overseers, have committed ourselves to serve this church for the rest of the year of 2007. In that time, we will serve in an expanded role appointed by the Trustees as a spiritual “presbytery,” or a spiritual covering, to give the final word on all spiritual decisions and provide other guidance until a new pastor is confirmed by you as the congregation.
On that day, our work will be through. In the meantime, we will work very closely with the executive pastoral team. They have all displayed outstanding character, responsibility and faithfulness. The Interim Pastor will consult with us on the day to day operations, which he will continue to oversee.
The purpose of this continuing role for the Overseers is to provide additional outside stability. The senior pastoral staff has welcomed this development. It will allow adequate time, without pressure, for the Pastoral Selection Committee to consider potential candidates, both inside and outside the church, for the role of Senior Pastor.
We have also recommended Pastor Chris Hodges to be the fifth member of the Board of Overseers.
Joshua said, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord…” (Josh. 24: 15). As we prepare ourselves for the Easter season, we all have a choice today: Will we live as captives of the past, the grave and sin, or will we shake ourselves, cleanse ourselves, and rise up to be a powerful new Body?
The world, the nation, this community, and your families are watching how you respond to crisis: with courage and faithfulness or with cynicism and retreat. To this point, we have seen amazing evidence of the grace of God upon the wonderful family called “New Life Church.” “Where sin does abound, grace does much more abound,” and that means much grace is being poured out upon us right now!
Pray fervently for the staff, as change, restructuring, and reorganization are inevitable. Like any army that suffers a setback, they re-focus, re-tool, and rebound. The Overseers will continue their work with the staff to do long-term master planning, speak in chapels to minister to and pastor the staff, and conduct final interviews to discover any sin that may be present. The Pastoral Selection committee will carefully work through all candidates both within and outside the Body of New Life until the Holy Spirit gives everyone the witness that the new leader has been found.
When God judged the world in the time of Noah, Noah’s family entered the Ark. It was not until five months had gone by the waters began to decrease. It was after seven and a half months the first sign of the tops of the mountains appeared. It was not until one year and ten days had gone by that Noah and his family exited the Ark.
In a similar way, we see the exposure of your pastor as the moment of judgment. Five months from that day will be Easter…seven and a half months will be Father’s Day…one year and ten days will be November 14th. Our encouragement to you today is, “Stay in the Ark.”
The winds may howl, the storms may rage, and the Ark may drift but you are still safe within. We expect that by November of this year, all of you will step out into a “New Life” and a new world with the memories, disappointments, and judgments all behind.
Join us in making 2007 a “Year of Faithfulness.” We will make it to the other side and Jesus will be exalted at New Life Church!
The Overseers of New Life Church