The district hierarchy of the Assemblies of God church in Alexandria, La., has ordered television evangelist Jimmy Swaggart to begin immediately a two-year rehabilitation period that will limit his preaching and place him in counseling, an official said last night.

Louisiana District supervisor Cecil Janway made the announcement about 10 p.m. after meeting for more than 9 1/2 hours with Swaggart, who was accused of sexual misconduct and tearfully confessed Sunday before a congregation of more than 6,000 that he had committed unspecified sins.

"The following action has been taken by the board of the Louisiana District of the Assemblies of God concerning evangelist Jimmy Swaggart: We accept his confession of specific incidents of a moral failure. Based on his detailed confession and the evidence we observed of true humility and repentance, we have offered him rehabilitation, in accordance with the bylaws of the general council and Louisiana District of the Assemblies of God," Janway said.

"Brother Swaggart has submitted to the terms of rehabilitation," he said.

The district action is subject to approval by the church's national board.

Swaggart made no comment as he left the meeting. He was whisked away by guards and left in a van, apparently headed for his twin-engine airplane at Esler Regional Airport in Pineville.

Janway told reporters that Swaggart will be prohibited from preaching for at least three months, "except in fulfillment of present commitments involving foreign governments during that period."

The district supervisor also said Swaggart would be counseled and supervised weekly by three members of the Louisiana District Presbytery during the rehabilitation period. He will be required to submit monthly and quarterly reports to church officials, Janway said.

"We urge Brother Swaggart and his associates to resist the request of those outside the church to respond to questions. Brother Swaggart has been in complete cooperation with the Assemblies of God and has pledged to work within the structure of the church," he added.

Swaggart will be relieved of his duties as copastor of the Family Worship Center in Baton Rouge, but he will be allowed to return to preaching after three months, Janway said.

The board's action seemed to substantiate the judgment of members of the evangelical community, who said in interviews yesterday that Swaggart's public admission was a shrewd move. By begging forgiveness in a broadcast that was replayed nationwide -- and seen by church elders -- Swaggart sought to deflect charges of hypocrisy, of having preached against immoral behavior while practicing it.

A fiery Pentecostal preacher, Swaggart in recent years had played the grand inquisitor, condemning other pastors who he said did not adhere to a strict fundamentalist interpretation of the Gospel. As late as last year, he was accused by some in his denomination of creating a schism within the Assemblies of God, one of the country's largest Protestant churches.

"Mr. Swaggart has been self-righteous, bigoted and loose-lipped in his condemnation of others in the past," said Michael Cromartie, director of Protestant studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, an evangelical think tank. "He will be seen as a total hypocrite and the only way to avoid that is to handle this tragedy with humility and contrition."

Officials of the church's national board in Springfield, Mo., may make a final decision by the end of the week, according to Juleen Turnage, spokeswoman for the national Assemblies of God organization. "{Swaggart's} cooperation is really helping us expedite the investigation," said Turnage. "We appreciate the way he has handled everything."

The evidence against the 52-year-old Swaggart, first presented to the church last week by a rival evangelist, includes a confession from Swaggart that he paid a prostitute to perform pornographic acts, according to sources, and that he has had an obsession with pornography since childhood.

The Rev. Glen Cole, one of 13 members of the national board, did not specifically identify the evangelist's transgression. He said Swaggart had tried to deal with his problem through fasting and prayer, but should have sought counseling as well. "Something got hold of him and he just couldn't shake it," Cole said.

Pornography, in the church's view, is a sin because it demeans women and, in the case of a married couple, interferes in a loving relationship. Evangelical officials said the pornography charges against Swaggart particularly embarrass the Assemblies of God because the denomination has been a leader in the recent political movement by religious conservatives for better enforcement of antipornography laws.

Swaggart has railed against pornography from the pulpit, according to the Rev. Don Gray, founding president of Swaggart's Bible college, and has written about it several times in his ministry's magazine.

"We were certainly surprised to hear the accusations," said Gray, now pastor of an Assemblies of God church in Mobile, Ala. "It was very courageous of him to go before the TV cameras."

Gray, echoing the opinion of several other pastors, commended Swaggart for coming forward. He said he had taken up a special offering for Swaggart at an evening worship service on Sunday and received $3,000 from about 500 worshipers.

Some predicted Swaggart's confessions would badly hurt television evangelism, coming less than a year after former TV evangelist and PTL founder Jim Bakker was defrocked by the Assemblies of God for adultery and alleged homosexuality.

Some ministries had begun to recover from the PTL scandal. For example, the Arbitron Ratings Service showed Swaggart's weekly program was watched by 1.72 million households during one week last November, fewer than November 1986's 2 million but up from 1.69 million in July 1987.

"It's a terrible blow to the whole industry," said Jeffrey Hadden, a University of Virginia sociologist and author of "Prime Time Preachers." "It has the appearance that 'my God, everybody is involved' {in immoral conduct}. As far as {the press} is concerned, it's show time again, and that's got to hurt."

Several evangelical leaders predicted that evangelicals in general will be tarred for a while.

"What is it that {the 'Peanuts' cartoon character} Lucy says? Aaaaargh!" said the Rev. Robert P. Dugan Jr., Washington director of the National Association of Evangelicals. "People will assume all evangelicals are that way. And 'Elmer Gantry' is playing right now here at Ford's Theatre. What timing."

A spokesman for Jerry Falwell, another leading television evangelist, issued this statement: "I am deeply saddened over the tragedy. With the credibility crisis in recent days, involving Wall Street, the world of politics and the arena of religion, many sincere people have had their faith shattered."

Terry Muck, executive editor of Christianity Today, said the controversy may hurt the Republican presidential campaign of Pat Robertson, former president of the Christian Broadcasting Network and former host of the religious program "The 700 Club." Robertson's staunch supporters won't be affected, he said, but more mainstream voters may look elsewhere.

"For people who were considering {Robertson}, this will make it more difficult for {him} to win them over," Muck said.