Sister 2 Sister was there as Bishop Eddie Long finally spoke out about the allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against him.
The world has been waiting for Bishop Eddie Long, Senior Pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, to respond to recent allegations of sexual misconduct. Although he released a statement through his attorney, Eddie had not publicly addressed the accusations himself until Sunday.
The popular Pastor was scheduled to address his congregation during two morning services. We weren’t sure what to expect when we arrived at church at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday, but we can say that the anticipation was immediately palpable. News vans lined the nearby streets and there were about 200 people outside of the main entrance waiting to take their seats in the sanctuary. The doors opened at 6:45 a.m. and from that point on people continued to file in until the church reached its seating capacity of 10,000. Many of the members wore black clothing, which invoked a feeling of mourning.
That feeling didn’t last for long. Once inside the church, we could almost see the spirit moving through the members as many stood at the foot of the pulpit praying for their spiritual leader while others sang out in joy. If you hadn’t read the recent headlines about Eddie, you wouldn’t even know that this was not your typical Sunday morning service.
At 8 a.m. sharp, the choir began rejoicing and the entire church was on their feet for the next 30 minutes. In the moments leading up to the bishop’s address, Bernice King led the offering and the church shared a moment of appreciation with Khotso Ratlagone who flew in from South Africa to give thanks and appreciation for the work New Birth has done in their initiative to help the young children in the region. There was also an acknowledgement that this day marked the end of their 21 Days of Confessions, which was implemented to bring the church members into wholeness.
Around 9 a.m., Eddie received a rock star welcome as he walked out in front of his church family with wife Vanessa on his arm. The crowd jumped to their feet and gave him a standing ovation for 10 minutes while he stood on stage beneath the banner toting the church’s motto: “Love like Him, Live like Him, Lead like Him.”
Once the crowd quieted down, Eddie explained that he had an obligation to respond to his church family first before addressing the rest of the world. He chose Psalms 34:19 as the scripture which read, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all. “ How appropriate.
The bishop told his congregation he wanted to help them get through this tough time and how to respond to the questions and accusations that may be directed toward them. He explained that each person had four options on how to handle things. They could curse it, nurse it, rehearse it, or reverse it. Eddie suggested using the tools of P.O.W.E.R. (Prayer, Outreach, Worship, Encouragement, Resolve).
When the time came to address the rumors, shouts echoed from the balcony, saying, “You don’t have to tell us anything. We love you.” It seemed as though every person in the building was showing unconditional and unwavering support for this man.
Eddie said, “I have never claimed to be a perfect man, but I am not the man they are making me out to be.” He announced that he will be fighting the charges in court where he will find justice, not in the media, and the crowd erupted in cheers of encouragement for their Pastor. He continued, “I feel like David against Goliath. I got five rocks and I ain’t thrown one yet.” Again, the crowd erupted and the Pastor and First Lady exited the stage.
While it remains to be seen if Eddie is guilty of the sexual misconduct alleged by four young men, he has the support of many people in his congregation. He has also built a positive reputation for himself outside of his church by doing a lot of good for a lot of people. For example, the bishop is a board member at several esteemed universities, he’s a member of the 100 Black Men of America, and he is Co-Chair of Dekalb Police Alliance,
Eddie has also been honored by the Center for Disease Control and the National HIV/AIDS Partnership (NHAP) for his outstanding and ongoing work in fighting the spread of the disease.
– Stephanie Dayton
Bishop Eddie Long won’t speak on sex scandal