Around 110 people showed up for a prayer meeting Thursday evening in the home of former megachurch pastor Ted Haggard.
Though the meeting, which Haggard said was arranged to connect with friends and help people, was expected to draw between five and 20 people, it ended up drawing around 80 of Haggard's acquaintances and around 30 people Haggard had never met.
“It’s a ‘Kumbaya’ moment,” Haggard, 58, told the Denver Post afterward.
Thursday’s prayer meeting was held roughly three years after a drugs and sex scandal led to Haggard's resignation from the presidency of the National Association of Evangelicals and forced him out of the church he founded, New Life Church in Colorado Springs.
In November 2006, a former male prostitute claimed Haggard had paid him for sex over the past three years and had also taken methamphetamines. In a letter to New Life members, Haggard called himself "a deceiver and a liar" and described his long struggle as a "repulsive and dark" part of his life.
With that, he said, "I desperately need to be forgiven and healed."
Since then, Haggard and his family have mostly been in seclusion, coming back out only this past year to promote “The Trials of Ted Haggard,” which debuted on HBO late January and aired throughout the month of February.
Though some have criticized Haggard for his return to the spotlight so soon after his fall from grace, Haggard said Thursday’s meeting was a sign that there are many who “believe in the resurrection in me.”
"People love a good comeback story," Haggard told The Associated Press.
Haggard currently works as an insurance salesman and lives in Colorado Springs with his wife of 30 years and two of his five children. The Haggards' remaining three children are over the age of 18.
Although Haggard has stated his intention not to return to ministry, he said he was interested in making more public appearances.
According to Haggard, “loads of New Lifers” have been writing to him on his website, TedHaggard.com, since his return to the public stage, some going as far as telling him they are being healed through his appearances.
In a short statement issued on the eve of Haggard’s prayer gathering, New Life Church’s current pastor, Brady Boyd, said the church “will always be grateful for the many years of dedicated leadership from Ted Haggard and we wish him and his family only the best.”
New Life Church, which started from Haggard’s basement and grew to become one of the nation’s most prominent churches, currently has more than 10,000 members as well as three affiliated churches.