Ministry Offers Spiritual Restoration for Unseated Pastors
- Allie Martin & Jenni Parker AgapePress
- 2006 11 Nov
Also, Focus Official Joins Team Ministering to Haggard
The recent removal of high pro-file Pastor Ted Haggard from his church, New Life Church in Colorado Springs, as well as his leadership of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE) has put the spotlight on ministries that counsel and help restore pastors who leave their ministry posts in disgrace or due to conflict [Haggard's parishioners not the only ones feeling let down; see related article].
Pastors in Residence is one such ministry, formed to help ministers that have either been fired or have had to leave their positions unexpectedly, often under unhappy circumstances. Through this ministry, clergy who find themselves without a church for various reasons can tap into a supervised, restoration-oriented program for comfort, rest, and refuge.
Dr. Charles Wickman is founder of Pastors in Residence, which pairs pastors who have left the ministry with churches or other areas of ministerial service. He says restoration is often a long process, during which the objective is "to try and get that pastor aligned with a church that's willing to receive him for a period of time -- to build a support team around him -- then, in that church, to find some portfolio of responsibility again."
In the new church or ministry environment, Wickman explains, a pastor is provided with service opportunities, accountability and other "things that he's used to," in a setting "where he can agonize in front of people that are sympathetic and understanding." The supportive surroundings are important, he points out, as pastors who have to leave their churches unexpectedly often face a variety of emotions.
"They go through agony unparalleled, I think, depending upon how the thing happened and how he lost ministry," the ministry founder observes. All at once, clergy who go through this "lose their identity, their work, their hopes and dreams and all sorts of things," he says.
"And to be called of God and to have no place to go is agonizing," Wickman adds. And this is true "particularly for his wife," he notes, "whom we have found always takes longer to recover than the husband."
Pastors in Residence is conducting an online survey in an effort to discover what kinds of things indicate that pastors are "at risk" before they are forced out of their churches. Wickman says a study by Christianity Today magazine found that 23 percent of pastors will be forced to leave churches during their lifetime.
'Pastor's Pastor' Joins Team Overseeing Haggard's Restoration Process
Ted Haggard's very public departure from the ministry in early November was met with shock and sadness from the evangelical Christian community, but members of his church, the NAE, and others in Christian leadership were quick to voice concern for the disgraced minister and his family. Among those calling for prayer over Haggard's situation was Focus on the Family chairman Dr. James Dobson, who urged his ministry's constituency and "Christians everywhere to pray for Ted and his loved ones."
Focus on the Family's Vice President of Church and Clergy H.B. London recently accepted an invitation from the New Life Church Board of Overseers to join the team of Dr. Jack Hayford and Pastor Tommy Barnett in overseeing the former New Life pastor's spiritual restoration.
Dr. Dobson issued a statement today about London's participation, calling him "an excellent choice for this important duty."
The Focus on the Family founder and chairman describes Haggard as a "close friend and colleague," and says he had "wanted to assist Ted and New Life Church personally through this difficult period, but there was no way I could devote the kind of time and attention to the process that it deserves." In his statement, however, Dobson noted London's "vast experience as a pastor to pastors" and said the Church and Clergy vice president "understands the unique spiritual needs and challenges of those who serve in the ministry."
With H.B. London joining the team, Dobson observed, "Ted's care and restoration could not be in more capable hands."
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