(Photo: AP / David Zalubowski)
"Restoration" begins this week for former megachurch pastor Ted Haggard. His counseling team of three pastors has set out to guide him through what may be a long process toward recovery from a drugs and gay-sex scandal that shocked the nation.
Haggard's first step in restoration is to acknowledge any addictions and come to an honest understanding of his sexuality, the Los Angeles Times reported. After the counseling team assesses his spiritual, emotional and mental condition, a "restoration plan" will require Haggard to go through hours of counseling, Bible study, prayer and frank talks each week.
Also joining Haggard in his restoration process is his wife Gayle, who has committed to stay with him until "death do us part," which she stated in a letter to the women of New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo.
"Ted remains humbly submitted to the authority of the overseers, and he and Gayle are trusting God for healing and direction," Ross Parsley, acting senior pastor for New Life, told the congregants in a Nov. 30 e-mail.
The overseers include H.B. London, focus on the Family's vice president of church and clergy; Jack Hayford of The Church on the Way in Van Nuys, Calif.; and Tommy Barnett of First Assembly of God in Phoenix, Ariz.
Haggard was fired as senior pastor of New Life and stepped down as head of the National Association of Evangelicals after a former male prostitute claimed the pastor had paid him for sex over the last three years and had also taken methamphetamines.
In a letter to New Life members, dated Nov. 5, Haggard called himself "a deceiver and a liar" and also said some of the allegations are untrue. He explained his long struggle with a part of his life he described as "repulsive and dark."
With that, he said, "I desperately need to be forgiven and healed."
While some gay-rights activists believe Haggard is gay and unable to change his sexual orientation, the Rev Mike Ware, a good friend of Haggard's, said, "Ted says he's not a homosexual," according to the LA Times.
But, "the restoration team wants experts to evaluate that," Ware added.
As Haggard begins his recovery journey, New Life's trustees are reportedly working on a severance package to sustain Haggard and his wife, who worked with women's ministries. The Haggards had also received gifts and donations from congregation members.
Meanwhile, New Life is searching for a candidate to replace Haggard and pastor the 14,000-member church. The candidate must be approved by the congregation in a final vote to be hired.