Mega-Church Minister Eddie Long Leaves Church, after wife Files for Divorce

Dec 2, 2011 5:49pm

UPDATE: (Sunday December 4th)  At Sunday services this morning at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, “Bishop” Eddie Long announced he was taking leave from the church. “I’m still your pastor, you will receive my direction,” he said.  The church is trying to put a good face on the development, and today told its Twitter followers, “The enemy wants us to think it isn’t well.”

UPDATE:  The reconciliation did not make it through the night. The divorce is back on. Her lawyers put out the following: “Mrs. Long continues to hope that this matter may be resolved expeditiously, harmoniously and fairly; however, she has determined that dismissal of her divorce petition is not appropriate at this time.”

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Late Thursday night, Vanessa Long confirmed long-standing rumors that she and her husband, megachurch Pastor Eddie Long, were on the brink of divorce. She filed divorce papers Thursday, and in an emailed statement wrote that “After a great deal of deliberation and prayer, I have decided to terminate my marriage to Bishop Eddie L. Long.” In the initial divorce filing, she said the marriage was “irretrievably broken” and had “no hope of reconciliation.”

Eddie Long was accused by four young men of coercing them into sexual relations when the they were teenagers. He settled with the accusers for an undisclosed amount last  May. Some suggest he spent nearly $2.5 million  settling the case. At his first public appearance after news of the allegations broke, Vanessa Long stood by his side. Her divorce filing was the first real sign that there was trouble in the Long marriage.

But this afternoon, Vanessa Long had an apparent, sudden and dramatic change of heart.

“Upon prayerful reflection, I have reconsidered and plan to withdraw my petition for divorce from my husband, Bishop Eddie L. Long,” she wrote. “I love my husband. I believe in him and admire his strength and courage. 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.”

This is Eddie Long’s second marriage. He married Dabara Houston in 1981 and they were divorced four years later. According to court documents, there were allegations that he beat his then wife with his fists when she was more than seven months pregnant.

New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, which has more than 25,000  members, has been rocked by the scandal involving their “bishop.” Elder Bernice King, daughter of slain civil right leader Martin Luther King, left the church this summer  but denied she left because of the allegations surrounding Long having sex with young men in his youth ministry.

Long has a long history of preaching again gays, gay sex and gay marriage. He once led a march against gays through the streets of Atlanta, and described homosexuality as a “spiritual abortion.”

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