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Haggard starring in TLC documentary this month

By: MARK BARNA
January 6, 2011
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photo - Ted Haggard and his wife Gayle walk past the media after a press conference Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at their home in Colorado Springs. During the press conference Haggard announced he was starting a new church, the St. James Church. Photo by THE GAZETTE FILE
Ted Haggard and his wife Gayle walk past the media after a press conference Wednesday, June 2, 2010 at their home in Colorado Springs. During the press conference Haggard announced he was starting a new church, the St. James Church. Photo by THE GAZETTE FILE 

Ted Haggard will star in a documentary debuting Jan. 16 on the TLC cable network.

“Ted Haggard: Scandalous” documents Haggard’s founding of St. James Church in Colorado Springs last June, its first service in a barn and Haggard’s counseling of congregants.

Haggard had no input on the footage used and hasn’t seen the documentary, he said.

“I hope it’s a resurrection story,” Haggard said. “I hope it encourages people to realize that no matter what you are going through, the sun will come up again.”

“Scandalous” is the second cable documentary Haggard has been part of. In January 2009, HBO debuted “The Trials of Ted Haggard,” which documents Haggard during a rough time in 2007.

Haggard resigned as senior pastor of New Life Church in November 2006 in the wake of a gay sex scandal. He and his family left Colorado Springs to start anew, then returned in June 2008.

“That was my time of despair,” Haggard said, “my time in the desert. The intent of the new (documentary) is resurrection, a moving forward.”

Haggard said he was paid a “small amount” for his time during the five-day shoot by Long Pond Media, a Los Angeles-based production company. Relativity Real produced the film.

When Long Pond started the shoot, Haggard was not doing any pastoral counseling, so Long Pond placed ads on Craigslist offering free sessions.

“They wanted to document my counseling method,” Haggard said, “and capture authentic counseling appointments.”

Two who responded were Jessica Williams of Colorado Springs and Mikey Manschot of San Antonio, Texas.

Williams, a 33-year-old massage therapist, was struggling last summer with drug addiction. She said Haggard’s session helped her and that at the end he gave her a reference for a drug-and-alcohol counselor.

“I hope (the film) changes the media’s perspective on him,” Williams said. “I really believe he has a good heart and is trying to make a difference.”

Manschot, who is gay, also praised his session with Haggard.

“When you read about him in the newspapers, it’s easy to pass judgment,” Manschot, 23, said. “But in person he carries himself well. He’s doing it because he cares.”

Since last summer, Haggard has been lying low and refusing most interviews from the media. One interview he did agree to was with GQ magazine in late October. The article will be on newsstands some time in January.

For more on Haggard and “Scandalous,” go to Barna’s blog, The Pulpit, at www.thepulpit.freedomblogging.com.

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