Jewish Journal

Lawsuits settled, Bishop Long returns to pulpit

by Brad A. Greenberg

June 1, 2011 | 11:09 pm

Here’s a bit of news I missed over the weekend: Bishop Eddie Long, the leading candidate for worst pastor of 2010, has settled the sexual abuse lawsuits against him and in his first sermon back said he is moving forward in his ministry.

The AP reports:

The crowd still cheered for Bishop Eddie Long as he took the pulpit Sunday, but gone was the air of defiance that defined his appearance eight months ago when he rallied his congregation to battle amid lawsuits accusing the megachurch pastor of sexual misconduct.

Just days after settling the lawsuits filed by four young men who used to attend New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, the message was one of progress and prosperity to the several hundred gathered. The choir opened the two-hour 8 a.m. service with the gospel hymn “Moving Forward,” which began: “I’m not going back, I’m moving ahead. Here to declare to you my past is over.”

Long addressed a far smaller group than the one gathered back in September, when he compared himself to the Bible’s ultimate underdog and vowed to fight like David versus Goliath against accusations that he abused his spiritual authority and coerced four young men into sexual relationships with gifts including cars, cash and travel. Then, thousands of supporters and observers packed the 10,000-seat sanctuary, which took on the atmosphere of an arena.

Long’s ministry definitely suffered from the allegations. For one thing, “several hundred gathered” doesn’t really sound like a megachurch, certainly not one of the order that New Birth previously belonged. The church also lost one of its most famous congregants, Martin Luther King Jr’s daughter Bernice King.

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