The following letters from Ted Haggard, former senior pastor of New Life Church in Colorado, and his wife, Gayle, were read to his congregation on Sunday, Nov. 5. I gave Haggard’s written apology 4 stars because he covered every language of apology except making restitution to the church. He didn’t lose any points by making excuses or passing the blame- good for him. I chose not to rate his wife’s apology because she is not an offender. Her letter was simply a kind and caring gesture.
Yesterday, Haggard and his wife were featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Speaking of his former church leaders he gave a one-star apology, saying, “I am SO sorry that I conflicted them and hurt them, and… essentially betrayed them.” Note: Haggard’s apology would have been stronger if he had left out the qualifier ‘essentially’. Haggard added, “one of the reasons we’re here today is to say to the people of the church… I am so sorry for the way I disappointed you.” The Oprah segment can be viewed on You Tube (Haggard’s apologies occur 5:00 minutes along in the 7 minute clip).
Ted Haggard’s letter to his congregation
My Dear New Life Church Family,
I am so sorry. I am sorry for the disappointment, the betrayal, and the hurt. I am sorry for the horrible example I have set for you.
I have an overwhelming, all-consuming sadness in my heart for the pain that you and I and my family have experienced over the past few days. I am so sorry for the circumstances that have caused shame and embarrassment to all of you.
I asked that this note be read to you this morning so I could clarify my heart’s condition to you. The last four days have been so difficult for me, my family and all of you, and I have further confused the situation with some of the things I’ve said during interviews with reporters who would catch me coming or going from my home. But I alone am responsible for the confusion caused by my inconsistent statements. 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 is a part of my life that is so repulsive and dark that I have been warring against it all of my adult life. For extended periods of time, I would enjoy victory and rejoice in freedom. Then, from time to time, the dirt that I thought was gone would resurface, and I would find myself thinking thoughts and experiencing desires that were contrary to everything I believe and teach.
Through the years, I’ve sought assistance in a variety of ways, with none of them proving to be effective in me. Then, because of pride, I began deceiving those I love the most because I didn’t want to hurt or disappoint them.
The public person I was wasn’t a lie; it was just incomplete. When I stopped communicating about my problems, the darkness increased and finally dominated me. As a result, I did things that were contrary to everything I believe.
The accusations that have been leveled against me are not all true, but enough of them are true that I have been appropriately and lovingly removed from ministry. Our church’s overseers have required me to submit to the oversight of Dr. James Dobson, Pastor Jack Hayford, and Pastor Tommy Barnett. Those men will perform a thorough analysis of my mental, spiritual, emotional, and physical life. They will guide me through a program with the goal of healing and restoration for my life, my marriage, and my family.
I created this entire situation. The things I did opened the door for additional allegations. But I am responsible; I alone need to be disciplined and corrected. An example must be set.
It is important that you know how much I love and appreciate my wife, Gayle. What I did should never reflect in a negative way on her relationship with me. She has been and continues to be incredible. The problem was not with her, my children, or any of you. It was created 100% by me.
I have been permanently removed from the office of Senior Pastor of New Life Church. Until a new senior pastor is chosen, our Associate Senior Pastor, Ross Parsley, will assume all of the responsibilities of the office. On the day he accepted this new role, he and his wife, Aimee, had a new baby boy. A new life in the midst of this circumstance – I consider that confluence of events to be prophetic. Please commit to join with Pastor Ross and the others in the church leadership to make their service to you easy and without burden. They are fine leaders. You are blessed.
I appreciate your loving and forgiving nature, and I humbly ask you to do a few things:
1. Please stay faithful to God through service and giving.
2. Please forgive me. I am so embarrassed and ashamed. I caused this and I have no excuse. I am a sinner. I have fallen. I desperately need to be forgiven and healed.
3. Please forgive my accuser. He is revealing the deception and sensuality that was in my life. Those sins, and others, need to be dealt with harshly. So, forgive him and actually, thank God for him. I am trusting that his actions will make me, my wife and family, and ultimately all of you, stronger. He didn’t violate you; I did.
4. Please stay faithful to each other. Perform your functions well. Encourage each other and rejoice in God’s faithfulness. Our church body is a beautiful body, and like every family, our strength is tested and proven in the midst of adversity. Because of the negative publicity I’ve created with my foolishness, we can now demonstrate to the world how our sick and wounded can be healed, and how even disappointed and betrayed church bodies can prosper and rejoice.
Gayle and I need to be gone for a while. We will never return to a leadership role at New Life Church. In our hearts, we will always be members of this body. We love you as our family. I know this situation will put you to the test. I’m sorry I’ve created the test, but please rise to this challenge and demonstrate the incredible grace that is available to all of us.
Dear Women of New Life Church,
I am so sorry for the circumstances that have led me to write this letter to you today. I know your hearts are broken; mine is as well. Yet my hope rests steadfastly in the Lord who is forever faithful.
What I want you to know is that I love my husband, Ted Haggard, with all my heart. I am committed to him until death “do us part.” We started this journey together and with the grace of God, we will finish together.
If I were standing before you today, I would not change one iota of what I have been teaching the women of our church. For those of you who have been concerned that my marriage was so perfect I could not possibly relate to the women who are facing great difficulties, know that this will never again be the case. My test has begun; watch me. I will try to prove myself faithful.
I love you all so much, especially you young women – you were my delight.
To all the church family of New Life Church – Ted and I are so proud of you. You are all we hoped you would be. In our minds, there is no greater church.
As you try to make sense of these past few days, know that Ted believes with all his heart and soul everything he has ever taught you, those things you are putting into practice. He is now the visible and public evidence that every man (woman and child) needs a Savior.
We are grateful for your prayers for our family.
I hold you forever in my heart.