Entries in Megachurch (2)


Bishop Eddie Long Takes Leave from Church After Wife Files for Divorce

John Amis-Pool/Getty Images(ATLANTA) -- Eddie Long, the anti-gay preacher who was accused of sexually abusing four young men in his youth ministry, announced on Sunday that he is taking a leave from his Atlanta megachurch to spend time with his family.

“I’m still your pastor, you will receive my direction,” Long told the congregation at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church.

Vanessa Long, who has been married to the pastor for 21 years, filed divorce papers last Thursday, but withdrew them a few hours later.  But her change of heart was short-lived.  On Friday, Vanessa Long’s lawyers announced the divorce was back on.

“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,” her attorney said in a statement.

Long’s accusers say he coerced them into sexual relations when they were teenagers.  The preacher settled with the accusers for an undisclosed amount last May.  Some suggest he spent nearly $2.5 million to end the lawsuit.

This summer, at his first public appearance since news of the allegations broke, Vanessa Long stood by her husband’s side.  The two have three children together, and Eddie Long also has a son named Edward from his previous marriage.

New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, which has more than 25,000 members, has been rocked by the scandal involving their bishop.  It is trying to put a good face on the most recent developments, and on Sunday told its Twitter followers, “The enemy wants us to think it isn’t well.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Georgia Megachurch Pastor Reveals He's Gay

Photo Courtesy - ABC News(ATLANTA) -- The pastor of a Georgia megachurch with thousands of followers, who was twice married and is a father of four, is speaking out about his recent decision to publicly declare he is gay.

"I know a lot of straight people think orientation is a choice. I want to tell you that it is not," Jim Swilley said in a video shot in the nondenominational megachuch Swilley founded 25 years ago.

Though Swilley said coming out was a decision he's struggled with since childhood, he made the announcement last month not for personal reasons -- he said he hopes to save lives.

The 52-year-old founder of Church in the Now in Conyers, Georgia, said he's coming out to help stem the recent tide of gay suicides in America and won't be swayed by some hateful messages that have been written about him online.

"To think about saving a teenager, yeah, I'll risk my reputation for that," he told ABC News' Atlanta affiliate WSB-TV before before tearing up. "As a father, thinking about your 16-, 17-year-old killing themselves."

Online, those hateful messages have been drowned out by an outpouring of support. Swilley has recently reached his 5,000-friend limit on Facebook and his wall is adorned with praise for his decision to come out.

"I'm overwhelmed by the outpouring of love and support that I have received in recent days..." Swilley said in a church blog post. "Your words of kindness have been life-giving... hose of you who have had less than supportive things to say, please know that I really do understand where you're coming from, and I'm sure many of you actually mean well, and want to help me... I respect your opinions and viewpoints, and can only ask for the same consideration."

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio