New Life Church’s former pastor Ted Haggard, who has made at least $338,000 since the beginning of 2006 and owns a house in Colorado Springs valued at more than $700,000, is asking for donations to keep his family afloat.
He told the media that he will be living with and ministering to the downtrodden in Phoenix while he goes to college, and that his family needs financial help while he studies. But one of the three pastors who have responsibility over his spiritual restoration said that Haggard’s statements about his plans are “premature.” Haggard resigned in late 2006 from the 10,000-member New Life Church and as head of the National Association of Evangelicals after admitting to “sexual immorality.” Haggard, in an e-mail posted on KRDO Channel 13’s Web site, said he and his family will move into an apartment in the Dream Center in Phoenix in October. It’s a faith-based halfway house for former prisoners, drug and alcohol abusers, prostitutes and street kids. Haggard said two of his children will also have a room there. Haggard and his wife, Gayle, are enrolled at the University of Phoenix, he said, where he is pursuing a master of science in counseling and she is studying psychology. “It looks as though it will take two years for us to have adequate earning power again, so we are looking for people who will help us monthly f or t wo years,” Haggard said in the e-mail. “During that time w e will continue as full-time students, and then, when I graduate, we won’t need outside support any longer.” Haggard received a salary of $115,000 for the 10 months he worked in 2006 and an $85,000 anniversary bonus before the scandal broke, according to church officials. The church’s board of trustees gave him a severance package that included a year’s salary ($138,000). He also collects royalties on his many book titles. Haggard owns a home in Colorado Springs that has been for sale. It has a market value of $715,051, according to records from the El Paso County assessor. One of Haggard’s overseers, Mike Ware, senior pastor at Victory Church in Westminster, said he had not spoken to Haggard since the e-mail came out a couple of days ago. “We will review that his statement was premature, and we will talk to him about that. It is not an official release from us,” Ware said. Ware wouldn’t comment on the propriety of Haggard’s plea for money but said he felt it was premature of Haggard to release the statement without first consulting the overseers. The Dream Center is run by Pastor Tommy Barnett, another of the ministers appointed to oversee Haggard’s spiritual restoration. Barnett heads the 15,000-member megachurch Phoenix First Assembly of God. Several staff and visitors at New Life Church on Thursday said they had not heard of Haggard’s financial appeal. Rob Brendle, New Life spokesman, said he had read the e-mail but that the board of overseers now provides comments on anything pertaining to Haggard. A new pastor, Brady Boyd of Texas, is trying out for Haggard’s old job this month at New Life Church with several sermons and town hall meetings. Church members will vote Monday on whether to accept him as their senior pastor.