Pastor at Haggard’s church resigns over sexual misconduct

COLORADO SPRINGS – A pastor who worked with young adults at New Life Church has resigned after admitting sexual misconduct and other mistakes just weeks after former church leader Ted Haggard stepped down over sexual immorality, church officials said.

Christopher Beard, who headed the twentyfourseven ministry that taught leadership skills to young adults, resigned Friday after admitting sexual misconduct and other mistakes, said Rob Brendle, an associate pastor at the 14,000-member church.

Brendle said Beard told church officials about “a series of decisions displaying poor judgment, including one incident of sexual misconduct several years ago.” The church said in a statement that the misconduct was with another unmarried adult several years ago. Beard, who worked at the church for nine years, has since married.

Brendle would not elaborate about the nature of the misconduct but said it did not involve Haggard.

The resignation was reported Monday by The Denver Post and The Gazette in Colorado Springs. The church said it wouldn’t comment further. A residential phone number listed in Beard’s name was disconnected.

Church leadership asked its outside Board of Overseers to examine the “spiritual character” of the 200 staff members after Haggard resigned last month from the church and as president of the National Association of Evangelicals. The overseers have also invited anyone who has concerns about the church’s ministers or ministries to come forward.

Haggard acknowledged he paid Mike Jones of Denver for a massage and for methamphetamine, but said he did not have sex with him and did not use the drug. Jones has said Haggard paid him regularly for sex. Haggard and his wife, Gayle Haggard, are undergoing three weeks of counseling at an undisclosed center in Arizona.

Brendle said Beard discussed his “misconduct” during a meeting with the Board of Overseers, which is made up of four pastors from other congregations.

“We recognize there will be increased scrutiny of our church in the wake of the scandal,” Brendle said. “We welcome that process in order to reinforce the high standard of personal integrity and morality that has characterized New Life’s employees for 22 years.”

Ross Parsley, New Life’s acting senior pastor, told congregants Sunday that there would be changes in the coming weeks as a result of the overseers’ investigation to restore integrity.

“The community deserves it and God demands it,” Parsley said.

Beard was reprimanded by the church in 2002, when police came to break up a twentyfourseven training exercise he led in the church’s parking lot involving fake assault rifles.

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Religion News Blog posted this on Monday December 18, 2006.
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