Bishop Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church announced Sunday morning that he will be taking some time off from his church.
The televangelist leader of the mega church in Atlanta said to his parishioners in a sermon: "I'm going to take a little time off to work with my family. I do want you to know that this is, for me and my family, especially with me, one of the most difficult times and things I've had to face, and only because my strength, other than God, is in Miss Vanessa," Long said to an applauding church.
Three days ago, Bishop Long’s wife, Vanessa Long, released a statement filing for a divorce.
Following Mrs. Long’s statement, The New Birth Missionary Baptist Church released another statement on Friday claiming Mrs. Long was opting out of the divorce proceedings. Mrs. Long’s attorney quickly rejected their statements saying the wife of the embattled church leader was in fact filing for a divorce from her husband.
In a statement confirming her decision to continue with the divorce proceedings, Mrs. Brown said: "My filing followed years of attacks in the media that frustrated and overwhelmed me. I love my family and church family, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. Therefore, my husband and I have mutually agreed to find healing from these attacks. We ask that you respect our privacy during this time."
Last spring, Long settled a lawsuit involving several young Atlanta men who accused him of luring them into having sexual contact with him in exchange for gifts and money from the church’s funds.
The bishop, a long time opponent of homosexuality, maintains his innocence and denies the sexual allegations have anything to do with his troubled marriage.
On the contrary, Mrs. Long’s divorce papers report that the couple has been "living in a bona fide state of separation” and that Mrs. Long "is entitled to a divorce upon grounds that the marriage between the parties is irretrievably broken, there being no hope of reconciliation of the parties, and it being in the best interest of all parties concerned that this marriage be terminated by divorce."
Michael W. Tyler, Mrs. Long attorney said in a statement: “To avoid any undue confusion, Mrs. Long's future statements, if any, will be issued through her attorneys only. At this time, neither she nor we will have any further comment on this matter.”