New Life Church Has Chance at Rebirth With New Leader

How a church got back on its feet after a sex scandal and shooting spree.

ByABC News
February 26, 2009, 7:53 PM

Dec. 24, 2007— -- Just one year ago, Ted Haggard, the New Life Church's charismatic founder and pastor was fired after he was accused of paying a male prostitute for sex and drugs. The once thriving church's membership dropped immediately while those who stayed struggled in the aftermath of a huge scandal.

Enter Brady Boyd.

Boyd, New Life's new lead pastor, knew he was taking on a tough job filling the shoes of a disgraced founder and renewing the faith of his church.

"If we're going to take credit away from him for an unfortunate decision that he made, let's give him credit for the good decisions that he did make," says Boyd, who has never before spoken publicly about his predecessor before this interview..

But four months after Boyd arrived, a young man named Matthew Murray stepped into the building with a thousand rounds of ammunition and killed two sisters, Stephanie and Rachel Works, right in front of their parents.

Once again, Boyd found himself with the job of giving his congregation some hope after a major blow.

"To say that I'm doing OK no, I'm not doing OK," says Boyd. "I've been pastoring hurting people for 10 days and I'm kinda squeezed dry right now."

But Boyd is soldiering on, and so is his church, whose membership has risen over the past year and is showing impressive resilience after the shooting several weeks ago.

"The business of Christianity is to wrestle with issues of sin and redemption. And often on a Sunday morning that can feel a little abstract," says Boyd, "But not here. No, it's front and center for us. We have to deal with it. We have to deal with the reality that we've gone through a dark time. That sin has cost us something not only from the inside but from the outside."

It's been a rough 12 months for Boyd and the New Life Church. They are praying the new year is better.

Hanna Siegel and Dan Harris contributed to this report.