COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Less than 24 hours after he was fired from the pulpit of the evangelical megachurch he founded, the Rev. Ted Haggard confessed to his followers Sunday that he was guilty of sexual immorality.
In a letter that was read to the congregation of the New Life Church by another clergyman, Haggard apologized for his acts and requested forgiveness.
"I am so sorry for the circumstances that have caused shame and embarrassment for all of you," he said, adding that he had confused the situation by giving inconsistent remarks to reporters denying the scandal.
"The fact is I am guilty of sexual immorality. And I take responsibility for the entire problem. I am a deceiver and a liar. There's a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it for all of my adult life," he said.
Haggard resigned last week as president of the National Association of Evangelicals, where he held sway in Washington and condemned homosexuality, after a man claimed to have had drug-fueled homosexual trysts with him. Haggard also placed himself on administrative leave from the New Life Church, which has 14,000 members, but its independent Overseer Board fired him on Saturday.
In his letter, Haggard said "the accusations made against me are not all true but enough of them are that I was appropriately removed from his church leadership position."
He did not give detail details on which accusations were true.
The letter was read to the church by the Rev. Larry Stockstill, senior pastor of Bethany World Prayer Center in Baker, La., and a member of the board that fired Haggard.
Before the letter was read, members of the congregation sang and cheered during their Sunday, singing refrain after refrain of "I will bless the lord at all times."
Youngsters were sent out of the room before elders began speaking about the church crisis.
"Worshippers are always challenged by crisis. And when tragedy and crisis strikes it is at that moment that you truly decide if you are a worshipper of the most high god. And today as the worship pastor of this church I am very proud of you," said the Rev. Ross Parsley, who has replaced Haggard.
"I am so grateful for the government system in place here at this church. ... The speed with which things were dealt with this week has been a testimony to the godliness, to the integrity and authority of the overseers of the board of this church," he said.
"Our church policy is something that makes us safe and secure," Parsley added.