- The Washington Times - Saturday, November 4, 2006

COLORADO SPRINGS (AP) — The Rev. Ted Haggard agreed to resign as leader of the New Life Church yesterday after its independent investigative board recommended removal, saying he was guilty “of sexually immoral conduct.”

“We, the Overseer Board of New Life Church, have concluded our deliberations concerning the moral failings of Pastor Ted Haggard,” according to a statement from the church. “Our investigation and Pastor Haggard’s public statements have proven without a doubt that he has committed sexually immoral conduct.”

A man describing himself as an escort told the press this week that Mr. Haggard, who also has resigned as president of the influential National Association of Evangelicals, had been paying him for sex for three years.

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Mr. Haggard denied the accusations, but later acknowledged having paid the man for a massage and to provide methamphetamine.

The church’s statement said the investigation would continue into the extent of Mr. Haggard’s misconduct.

The Rev. Ross Parsley will lead the church until a permanent replacement for Mr. Haggard is chosen, something that should be done by the end of the year, the statement said. A letter explaining Mr. Haggard’s removal and an apology from Mr. Haggard will be read at today’s services.

“The language of our church bylaws states 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 discipline him in any way they deem necessary,’ ” the statement read.

“In consultation with leading evangelical 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 continued.

James Groesbeck, a church elder, said he was glad the investigative board acted quickly.

“I’m saddened by what came out, but I think they’ve done their job,” Mr. Groesbeck said. Church members are drawing strength from one another and are caught up in the activity, but that likely will change, he said.

“I think it’s going to be really difficult in a week or two,” Mr. Groesbeck said.

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