Colorado Springs – Ted Haggard, the beleaguered pastor of a Colorado Springs evangelical church who had denied having sex with a male prostitute, has been fired by an oversight board, which found him guilty of “sexually immoral conduct.”
The board, called the “Overseer Board of New Life Church,” said in a prepared statement Saturday afternoon: “Our investigation and Pastor Haggard’s public statements have proven without a doubt that he has committed sexually immoral conduct.”
Citing the bylaws of the mega-church Haggard started years ago in his home, the overseers said his conduct required them to remove him from his job.
Mike Jones, of Denver, came forward Wednesday and said Haggard had had a paid sexual relationship with him monthly for three years. Jones also said Haggard used crystal meth. Haggard denied the sex, but admitted he once bought the drug, decided not to use it, and threw it away.
Haggard and his wife, Gayle, have been informed of the decision, the statement said.
Ross Parsley, who had stepped in as interim pastor when Haggard was placed on administrative leave, will continue to run the church until a replacement can be found. The overseers said they hoped to replace Haggard by the end of this year.
A letter of explanation and apology by Haggard as well as a word of encouragement from his wife will be read during services at New Life Church Sunday morning, the statement said.
Full text of Saturday’s press release
“We, the Overseer Board of New Life Church, have concluded our deliberations concerning the moral failings of Pastor Ted Haggard. Our investigation and Pastor Haggard’s public statements have proven without a doubt that he has committed sexually immoral conduct.
The language of our church bylaws state that as Overseers we must decide in cases where the Senior Pastor has “demonstrated immoral conduct” whether we must “remove the pastor from his position or to discipline him in any way they deem necessary.”
In consultation with leading evangelicals and experts familiar with the type of behavior Pastor Haggard has demonstrated, we have decided that the most positive and productive direction for our church is his dismissal and removal.
In addition, the Overseers will continue to explore the depth of Pastor Haggard’s offense so that a plan of healing and restoration can begin.
Pastor Haggard and his wife have been informed of this decision. They have agreed as well that he should be dismissed and that a new pastor for New Life Church should be selected according to the rules of replacement in the bylaws.
That process will begin immediately in hopes that a new pastor can be confirmed by the end of the year 2006. In the interim, Ross Parsley will function as the leader of the church with full support of the Overseers.
A letter of explanation and apology by Pastor Haggard as well as a word of encouragement from Gayle Haggard will be read in the 9:00 and 11:00 service of New Life Church.”