Vanessa Long’s last 48 hours seem a spiritual saga that only religion could produce.
On Thursday, the wife of embattled megachurch pastor Eddie Long filed for divorce, her attorney announced Friday.
By Friday afternoon, Vanessa had withdrawn her divorce papers “upon prayerful reflection.”
But on Friday evening, her attorney announced that Vanessa had “determined that dismissal of her divorce petition is not appropriate at this time.” In other words, the divorce was on, again.
Eddie Long’s divorce drama is only the latest in a long line of controversies for the preacher.
In May, Eddie Long, pastor of the 25,000-member New Birth Missionary Church in Lithonia, Ga., settled out of court with four young men who had accused him of sexual misconduct. The allegations included claims that Long, then a married father of four, had “abused his spiritual authority to seduce [teenage boys] with cars, money, clothes, jewelry, international trips and access to celebrities.” The settlement with the men included a non-disclosure agreement.
When the allegations first emerged, Long admitted in a sermon that he was “not a perfect man” but added that he planned to fight what he said were false accusations.
Eddie Long is also being sued, the Wall Street Journal reported in October, by ten members of his congregation who say they lost more than $1 million in fraudulent investment schemes orchestrated by the pastor.
Long’s wife is an elder at New Birth, having been confirmed, according to the church’s Web site, by “divine appointment” in October 2004. She runs the women’s ministry, Heart to Heart, and has hosted a number of women’s conferences.
Vanessa Long’s full original statement, sent through her attorney, is below. Church officials would not answer questions about her future ministry, and a church spokesman did not return a phone call requesting comment.
“After a great deal of deliberation and prayer, I have decided to terminate my marriage to Bishop Eddie L. Long. Accordingly, I authorized my attorneys to file for divorce on December 1, 2011.
It is my sincere hope that this matter can be resolved expeditiously, harmoniously, and fairly. I ask that you respect my privacy and that of my family, as my attorneys and I have agreed that we will not try this case in the media, and I do not intend to make any further statements concerning this matter.
I also ask that the public pray for my entire family during this difficult period of transition.
“Thank you, and may God continue to bless and keep each of you.”