"A day of hope" has come for the 14,000 members at New Life Church after three months of shock and settlement over former senior pastor Ted Haggard's sex and drugs scandal.
The board of overseers who dismissed Haggard in November is scheduled to address the megachurch on Sunday to "give some closure," as associate pastor Rob Brendle told Colorado Springs' The Gazette, to the Haggard case.
New Life congregants will be told that the Haggards will relocate to continue their healing and restoration a "mutual" agreement that they and the church have come to, according to an e-mail sent to church members on Wednesday by interim pastor Ross Parsley. The agreement also includes a pledge by Haggard not to speak publicly about the scandal.
While the church Haggard founded looks toward the day of hope, Mike Jones, the former male prostitute who made the allegations that Haggard paid him for sex and methamphetamine for three years, has raised skepticism about Haggard's healing.
After an intensive three-week spiritual-restoration program, one of the four ministers who oversaw the counseling said Haggard emerged convinced that he is "completely heterosexual."
"He is completely heterosexual," the Rev. Tim Ralph told The Denver Post. "That is something he discovered. It was the acting-out situations where things took place. It wasn't a constant thing."
In an e-mail to New Life members on Feb. 4, Haggard wrote, "We all wanted to know why I developed such incongruity in my life. Thankfully, with the tools we gained there, along with the powerful way God has been illuminating his Word and the Holy Spirit has been convicting me and healing me, we now have growing understanding which is giving me some hope for the future."
Jones, however, was surprised at Haggard's claim.
"Give me a break," he said, according to The Gazette. The former male prostitute stated he is not convinced that Haggard has become completely heterosexual in a matter of three weeks.
Randy Thomas, vice president of the nation's largest ex-gay group Exodus International also raised doubts. Although the Exodus organization believes that it is possible to reorient a person's same-sex attraction through Jesus Christ, Thomas said it typically takes much longer to do so, according to the Associated Baptist Press.
"Sexuality is very complex. So, for many people, depending on what issues they deal with it could be months, it could be years," said Thomas. "So for someone to claim complete healing I find that remarkable."
Brendle, however, clarified the characterization of Haggard that was made this week. He said the statement that Haggard believed himself to be "completely heterosexual," was meant to communicate the idea that "Ted's choice is to be married to his wife and love her and be married to her for the rest of his life," according to Rocky Mountain News.
Human sexuality is a complex issue, the associate pastor and experts agree.
"Human sexuality is a complicated issue and ultimately the only one who can know for sure is Ted, and speculation about that is fruitless," said Brendle.
In any case, Haggard's counseling team recognizes that the restoration process takes year, Brendle said. And Haggard agreed to continue to receive counseling wherever he relocates to and New Life will continue to support them through prayers.
Haggard resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals last year after Jones went public with his allegations. He admitted to "sexual immorality" and buying methamphetamines.