Disgraced Evangelical Leader Ted Haggard Breaks Counseling Ties With His Former Megachurch

The megachurch founded by Pastor Ted Haggard said Tuesday he has prematurely ended a "spiritual restoration" process begun when he was fired for sexual misconduct.

Haggard was fired from New Life Church and resigned as president of the National Association of Evangelicals in November 2006 after a former male prostitute alleged they had a cash-for-sex relationship. The man also said he saw Haggard use methamphetamine.

Haggard confessed to undisclosed "sexual immorality" and said he bought meth but didn't use it.

New Life said in a written statement that "the process of restoring Ted Haggard is incomplete and (New Life) maintains its original stance that he should not return to vocational ministry."

Haggard and his family moved to Phoenix last year. As part of a severance package that paid Haggard through 2007, he agreed to leave Colorado Springs and not talk about the scandal publicly. But Haggard made public an e-mail asking for financial support, drawing a rebuke from the restoration team.

Haggard's phone number was unavailable.

He had agreed shortly after his dismissal to the restoration process, which was expected to include counseling and prayer and last five years or longer. New Life officials made it clear that "restoration" would not include a return to the pulpit.

On Tuesday, New Life said Haggard will maintain an undisclosed "accountability relationship" with Phoenix First Assembly of God and Pastor Tommy Barnett.

Barnett was one of three evangelical elder statesmen who served on the restoration team.

No one answered the phone at Phoenix First Assembly after hours on Tuesday.

New Life's statement said Haggard's leadership of the church had been extraordinary "for many years" and wished him and his family well.

Haggard was replaced in August by Brady Boyd, who had been an associate senior pastor at Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas.

In December, a gunman opened fire at New Life, killing two people before taking his own life.