Ted Haggard, the disgraced pastor who resigned from his ministry in 2006 amid an embarrassing gay sex scandal, was back in his home town Wednesday to announce he was starting a new church in Colorado Springs.
Haggard said his new venture would not be a megachurch like New Life Church, the congregation he founded in 1985 and then left in 2006 after a male prostitute said Haggard paid him for sex.
Haggard said he doesn’t know how many people will attend his new church, but he said the ordeal he and his wife, Gayle, went through has prepared them to help others.
“I have an incredible heart for broken people,” he said. “I think we’re qualified to hold people’s hands” in times of trouble.
Haggard, once an outspoken opponent of gay marriage, resigned as the head of his 14,000-member megachurch and as president of the National Association of Evangelicals in 2006 when male prostitute Mike Jones said that the pastor had been paying him for sex for the last three years and had bought methamphetamines from him.
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The 53-year-old married father of five, also confessed to having had an inappropriate sexual relationship with Grant Haas, a 20-year-old male volunteer, in 2006.
Earlier this year, Haggard said he had discovered in therapy that he had been abused by a man when he was a child and that therapy has cured him of his gay “compulsions.”
Haggard said his new Saint James Church will be open to everyone, Republicans and Democrats, heterosexuals and homosexuals alike.