- (Photo: New Birth Missionary Baptist Church via The Christian Post)
Bishop Eddie Long's New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, which was previously plagued by allegations of sexual misconduct and financial improprieties, recently announced that it will be closing its Christian Academy at the end of the school year due to a poor economy and low enrollment.
The Faith Community Christian Academy, which is located on the grounds of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga., reportedly has a current enrollment of 40 students, a number far too low to support the school.
"The closing of Faith Community Christian Academy ends an era for one of Georgia's premier Christian schools," school officials said in a written statement, as reported by local news station WSB-TV Channel 2.
The school went on to say that the its closing is a result of dire financial times, and is not related to previous accusations against Bishop Long of sexual misconduct with male minors.
"We understand the impact this decision will have on the students and staff," the school stated, according to WSBT-TV.
"But we are optimistic that the timing of the closing provides students, teachers and staff with sufficient time to transition to other schools."
The Christian Academy also promised students and parents that it would assist in helping families find nearby schools.
As the academy's website states, the school was founded in 1993 by Long, and has since grown from a K-3rd grade school to a pre-K-12th grade school.
At the end of December 2011, the school announced suddenly that it was closing before the school year was complete, citing decreased donations and enrollment, as well as a bad economy.
The school re-opened shortly after, however, after forging a new financial partnership with the private, Atlanta-based Aurora Day School, although it was still able to keep the name Faith Community Christian Academy.
Long, who started as pastor of New Birth church in 1987, has faced allegations relating to sexual misconduct and financial issues.
In September 2010, Long was accused of sexual abuse by five male victims. Four out of the five alleged victims filed lawsuits against Long, and all four lawsuits were settled out of court on undisclosed terms.
Long's wife, Vanessa, filed for divorce in 2011, a petition which she ultimately chose to close and dismiss.
Additionally, it was announced in mid-February that Long, who returned to his church's pulpit in January 2012 after a brief hiatus, is facing a lawsuit by former church members who claim the pastor convinced them to invest in a company that had a $3 million capital deficit.
New Birth Missionary Baptist Church is considered to be a megachurch, boasting an attendance of 25,000 people.