The Board of Overseers who have looked into the events surrounding Ted Haggard have issued a press release. It is nothing but impressive for both its clarity and compassion.
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.
It looks like Ted has confessed to them. There has been sexual immorality, whether heterosexual or homosexual is irrelevent. Even if the man took “a massage” from a male prostitute this would fall under the same banner and the Board have wisely signalled this. More than this, they’ve recognised the Biblical truth that those that oversee the church must be beyond reproach (1Tim3) and have, accordingly removed him from his position.
But, there’s more
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.
This is, of course, not a path that will lead to restoration of his role. That’s over now. I well remember before I got married to Jacqui my church boss in London sat me down and said “David, I want you to decide now that if your marriage fails and it’s even remotely your fault that you will resign your ministry position”. Those were wise words, for we must watch our life and doctrine closely.
But setting these affairs in order is, of course, not the end of the matter. Haggard needs healing. This is the wonder of the gospel, it allows us to be real about who we are – frail and sinful. And then, having been honest, we can look for healing.
The great tragedy of much protestantism, however (and by no means least in the Western Anglican church) is that these things are denied. New Life, however, are living up to their name and I think we have good hope to be confident that Jesus will be glorified even through these sad events.