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Disgraced Pastor Haggard Leaves New Life Church

Denver, Colo. – Ted Haggard, the Colorado Springs, Colo. minister accused of paying a male escort for sex in 2006, ended his association with the mega church he founded on Feb. 5.

Haggard founded New Life Church in 1984 and served as pastor there until November 2006, when he was fired after admitting to “sexual immorality” – presumably the allegation that he had paid a gay Denver escort for sex for three years. He also resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals, a fellowship of Protestant churches.

“There is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I've been warring against it all of my adult life,” Haggard told his congregation in his resignation speech in 2006. “For extended periods of time, I would enjoy victory and rejoice in freedom. Then, from time to time, the dirt that I thought was gone would resurface, and I would find myself thinking thoughts and experiencing desires that were contrary to everything I believe and teach.”

In January of last year, Haggard agreed to undergo “a process of spiritual restoration” lead by Dr. James Dobson of conservative group Focus on the Family. At the time, a committee of church “overseers” said that the process’ intent was to make Haggard secure in his heterosexuality. Three weeks into the treatment, they announced that Haggard was “completely heterosexual.”

In a statement released Feb. 5, however, the team of “restorers” called Haggard’s restoration “incomplete.”

The statement read: "Ted Haggard's leadership of New Life Church for many years was extraordinary and the depth of spiritual maturity that is found today in the church is in large part attributed to his leadership as the founding senior pastor.

"In January 2007, Ted Haggard voluntarily agreed to enter a process of spiritual restoration. He has selected Phoenix First Assembly and Pastor Tommy Barnett as his local church fellowship and is maintaining an accountability relationship there. He has recently requested to end his official relationship with the New Life Church Restoration Team and this has been accepted by them.

"New Life Church recognizes the process of restoring Ted Haggard is incomplete and maintains its original stance that he should not return to vocational ministry. However, we wish him and his family only success in the future.

"Because spiritual restoration is a necessarily confidential process, the church does not anticipate that it, or its Overseers or Restorers will make further comment about it."

Haggard has not made any public comment about his departure.

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