Bishop Eddie Long announces sabbatical amid divorce proceedings

December 6, 2011

Bishop Eddie Long, the Atlanta megachurch leader whose wife Vanessa Long filed for divorce last week, announced on Sunday that he would take time off to deal with family issues. As Fahima Haque reported:

Megachurch leader Bishop Eddie Long is going to take some time off from his Atlanta-based church, his spokesman announced Sunday.

Long says he plans on focusing on his family, especially after his wife, Vanessa Long filed for divorce Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011.

The couple has been married for 21 years and Mrs. Long planned on withdrawing her divorce petition Friday morning, but later changed her mind to go through with the decision.

Long, who has been in the news for allegedly sexually abusing four young men in his youth ministry, has no specific date of when he plans on returning to his megachurch ministry.

Vanessa Long first filed a petition for divorce Thursday. After reports Friday that she would withdraw the petition, her lawyer said she was indeed moving forward with divorce proceedings. As AP explained:

Long’s wife, Vanessa Long, filed a petition for divorce Thursday in DeKalb County Superior Court to end her 21-year marriage to the embattled minister. The church sent out a press release Friday morning saying Vanessa Long planned to withdraw her petition, but her attorney said later in the day that she had changed her mind.

In her petition, Vanessa Long indicated that the marriage is “irretrievably broken” and that there was “no hope of reconciliation of the parties.” She asked the court for temporary and permanent alimony, as well as attorneys’ fees and an equitable division of marital and non-marital property.

“Vanessa and I are working together in seeking God’s will in our current circumstances,” Eddie Long said in a written statement.

According to the divorce petition, the couple is “currently living in a bona fide state of separation.”

Bishop Long was embroiled in scandal earlier this year when allegations of sexual misconduct with four young men emerged. As Elizabeth Tenety reported:

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.

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