New Birth Missionary Baptist Church pastor Eddie Long told his congregation on Sunday that he was taking a brief leave from the Lithonia megachurch. Long said he plans to use the time off to heal his family.
“I’m still your pastor. You’ll still receive my direction,” Bishop Eddie Long said Sunday. “You’ve given me some weeks to take care of some family business.”
As we previously reported, Long’s wife, Vanessa, filed for divorce on Thursday. She later backtracked on the divorce only to have her lawyers release another statement hours later saying the divorce was back on.
Long’s wife, Vanessa, filed for divorce late Thursday afternoon. She said Friday morning, via a statement prepared by the church’s spokesman, that she had changed her mind but by day’s end announced the divorce was on.
After Vanessa’s divorce filing Eddie Long released this statement:
“God has blessed us with a wonderful family. Vanessa is, and has always been, a loving, dedicated and committed wife and Mother. My love for her is deep and unwavering. It remains our sincere desire to continue working together in seeking God’s Will in these circumstances. We will do so as privately as possible and with a spirit of love and sensitivity to our family. We ask that you be in prayer for our family and that we be allowed to privately pursue this important path without need, or request from the media, for further comment.”
In his sermon on Sunday, Long reiterated that he had no plans to resign, saying he had not “stepped down,” but instead had “stepped up.”
Several protesters picketing outside New Birth Sunday morning said Long didn’t go far enough and needs to resign.
Last fall four young men accused Eddie Long of sexual abuse. Although Long vowed to fight the charges, he later settled the matter out of court for an undisclosed sum of money. It was later revealed that a fifth man, Centino Kemp, also received settlement money.
New Birth once boasted a membership of roughly 25,000, but attendance has declined in the year since the sexual coercion lawsuit was filed.