12 Men Vying To Replace Haggard

The latest on Ted Haggard and his wife Gail: The “restoration” continues and they, along with their remaining underage children, have made the move to Phoenix and joined the same church that “helped” fallen evangelist Jimmy Bakker.

Meanwhile, New Life Church, which Haggard founded 23 years ago in the basement of his home and is now the largest mega-church in Colorado, announced today – nearly six months after the gregarious pastor was fired in the midst of a drugs and gay sex scandal – that the field of potential replacement candidates has been narrowed to 12.

That’s right. A dozen candidates are still in the running – and interviews with outside candidates are not even expected to begin for another two to three months.

Keep reading for the full letter from Associate Pastor Lance Coles to New Life Church Family and Friends and see who’s on the short list — and who’s not:

April 20, 2007

Dear New Life Family & Friends,

In the midst of a busy and very fruitful Easter season, the Pastoral Selection Committee continued to meet as often as possible in order to move closer to our goal of selecting a single candidate to be voted on as our next senior pastor.

We have narrowed our list of considerations to 12 men. These include Pastor Ross Parsley as our primary internal consideration along with 11 others from outside.

With regard to timing, outside considerations take much longer to perform due diligence. We must research and acquire biographical information on each man along with reviewing recorded sermon and teaching materials. We have sent inquires to all 12 regarding their interest in being considered but have not yet heard back from everyone. In the mean time, we continue to pray, research and discuss. We hope to acquire completed applications and commence personal interviews within the next 60 – 90 days.

Thank you for being steadfast in this season. Your consistency and prayers are making a significant difference!

Lance Coles
PSC Chairman

Parsley has been serving as New Life’s interim senior pastor since Haggard’s spectacular fall from grace in early November, when he was fired after admitting buying meth and getting massages from male escort Mike Jones. In the months that followed, the 14,000-member church reported a drop in income, resulting in a layoff of 44 employees, or 12 percent of its workers.

Rob Brendle, who has served as the church’s main spokesman since the Haggard scandal broke (and who initially incredulously rejected the claim his boss had engaged in a three-year “sexual business relationship” with Jones) had previously expressed interest in applying to be senior pastor, though it is unclear if he actually applied for the position.

The names of the external Haggard replacement candidates have not been released.

Meanwhile, the all-Haggard-all-the-time news cycle appears to be taking its toll on some. When the report on the move to Phoenix appeared earlier this week, several Colorado Springs Gazette online readers practically begged for relief — including, unsuccessfully, asking the newspaper to remove the front page link to nearly six months worth of scandal coverage.

Here’s just one comment, posted by someone who signed the online post “Springs Local”:

Enough already about Ted Haggard. Remove the front page link. He WAS news now we have to hear about everything he does? Just for the record I don’t care about his favorite color or what he eats for breakfast. When the news effected (sic) our community it was NEWS. Now I have no idea why it shows up as Headline news With so much going on in the world how does his packing up his house make the front page? When I read the front page I expect the most important news effecting our community and nation. Not stuff like this. Move on.

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