Colorado's largest megachurch overwhelmingly approved a suburban Dallas pastor to succeed ousted leader Ted Haggard as senior pastor.
More than 95 percent of members of New Life Church in Colorado Springs voted Monday in support of Brady Boyd, who preached his third and final sermon Sunday as he auditioned for the top pastor post.
Nearly a year after the firing of church founder Haggard over a sex-and-drugs scandal that shocked both the church and the nation, New Life attendance has declined and the now 10,000-member church is looking to bounce back and move toward a bright future.
"We're grateful to Brady for his willingness to serve our church family and we're grateful to God for sustaining us over the last 10 months. We look forward to a bright future serving our community and loving one another," said associate pastor Rob Brendle, according to The Associated Press.
Boyd, 40, had been an associate senior pastor at Gateway Church in Southlake, Texas, another well known megachurch, and said he was ready to be a senior pastor even if it meant taking up the challenge of rebuilding the reputation of New Life.
"This is a great day for New life Church. All of us are excited about writing the next chapter together. God has great plans for New Life and for Colorado Springs, and my family and I are humbled that we get to be a part of this great team," said Boyd in a statement.
And New Life congregants have been anticipating a new start.
"He's a breath of fresh air," said 10-year member Jack Hall, according to The Denver Post. "He's an answer to a prayer. He's the real deal."
In his final audition on Sunday, Boyd preached to thousands about his insecurities as a leader – a sermon that was well received by the New Life congregation.
"I'm not going to hide my humanity from you," he said to applause, according to the local newspaper. "I'm human. I'm flawed. I'm a work in progress."
"But on Tuesday morning, the sun is going to come up out of the eastern sky," Boyd said. "And on Tuesday, no matter what happened, I am going to be ruled by God's peace."
He was the only final candidate asked to try out for senior pastor at New Life.
Congregants showed an appreciation for his openness and honesty. And associate pastor Brendle said the staff likes Boyd's authenticity.
Boyd is New Life's second leader in 23 years, replacing Haggard, who was fired after a former male prostitute accused the pastor last year of paying him for sex for three years and also buying methamphetamine. In addition to leaving New Life, Haggard was also forced to resign as president of the National Association of Evangelicals.
In April, Haggard moved to Phoenix as part of his severance package from New Life Church, which included a year's salary of $138,000. He plans to earn a master's degree in counseling at the University of Phoenix and has recently asked supporters for financial assistance while he and his wife pursue their studies. Haggard predicts it will take two years for them to have "adequate earning power again," he wrote in an e-mail sent last week to KRDO-TV in Colorado Springs.