Stranger in a strange land

mikejonesBack in November when the Ted Haggard scandal broke, Terry said he hoped reporters would keep on the story. A service on Sunday provided a good reason to check back in on New Life megachurch in Colorado Springs. That's because Mike Jones, the former prostitute whose allegations about having sex and taking drugs with Haggard broke wide on the eve of the 2006 elections, went there on Sunday. Although Jones didn't notify the media in advance, he did tell church leadership he might be there. Eric Gorski of The Denver Post had the story:

As soon as the visitor from Denver walked through the church doors Sunday morning, heads turned. Word spread quickly: He was here.

Just about every person who offered him a handshake said the same thing: Welcome, thank you and God bless.

Gorski gets a lot of information into the story. Jones went to the church for research on a book he's writing but he was accompanied to the church by members of The Civilians, a New York theater troupe. The Civilians' presence is not explained. Anyway, Jones wasn't impressed by the church:

If the Gospel message is enough, he said, why the loud music and MTV-quality production?

"There seems to be something missing, some realism, in my opinion, because it's so vast, like some kind of self-contained city," said Jones, who said he was raised Methodist but is estranged from organized religion.

The article isn't one-sided, though, and gives associate pastor Rob Brendle the chance to explain why he thinks the church was so receptive to Jones -- who had been invited to attend more than a few times:

Brendle characterized Jones' presence as a reminder of both grief and God's faithfulness.

"I told Mike, 'I don't want to impose my religious beliefs on you, but I believe God used you to correct us, and I appreciate that,"' Brendle said. "The church's response to him was overwhelmingly warm. One of the wonderful and enduring truths of Christianity is to love people the world sets up to be your enemies."

For the take of KUSA, the broadcast outlet that broke the original story, go here. This story will go on.

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