Oh, but don’t think Bishop “Dick Tracie” is admitting to any of the things most of us – including his soon to be ex-wife Vanessa – have figured out are probably true about him.
But yesterday, he told the congregation at New Birth Missionary Birth what he probably should have said around this time last year, when in addition to being a perv, he was being accused of leading the flock into a ponzi scheme: he’s taking the time to “heal his family.”
“I’m still your pastor. You’ll still receive my direction,” Long said Sunday. “You’ve given me some weeks to take care of some family business.”
Long’s wife, Vanessa, filed for divorce late Thursday afternoon. She said Friday morning, via a statement prepared by the church’s spokesman, that she had changed her mind but by day’s end announced the divorce was on.
“Rumors that Bishop Eddie L. Long has stepped down as senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church are completely false,” according to a statement from the church. “As Bishop Long stated in his earlier comments, ‘Vanessa and I are working together in seeking God’s will in our current circumstances.’ As any loving and committed husband would do, Bishop Long will take some time to focus on his family but he will continue to be the senior pastor of New Birth.”
In remarks released Friday evening, Long said his love for his wife of 21 years is “deep and unwavering. It remains our sincere desire to continue working together in seeking God’s will in these circumstances.”
Long, during Sunday’s service, reaffirmed he had no plans to resign, adding he had not “stepped down” but instead “stepped up.”
During his statement on Sunday, Long also said that there was no infidelity or scandal causing him to have to work it out with Vanessa and that they should remain supportive and faithful.
One longtime New Birth observer said the bishop had little choice.
“It’s pretty clear from the payouts in the case, declining membership and divorce proceedings that something is wrong,” said Anthea Butler, an associate professor of religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania. “Clearly it has shaken things up.”
Congregants interviewed after Sunday’s 11 a.m. service said they remain supportive of Long.
“What he does in his personal time, he does,” said Adrian Jackson, a New Birth member for 21 years. “As long as he’s in there preaching, that’s what matters to me.”
Kevin Reddick, a church member since 1994, said Long is simply following the Bible’s instructions.
“I think it’s wise to take time off because Scripture tells us that ministry starts at the home,” Reddick told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“We love Bishop Long and we’re certainly supportive of our family, our spiritual family and we are praying for him and we are praying for those who are in connection with Bishop Long and the Kingdom of God,” Dr. Cathryn Lafayette, a church member of more than 11 years told Channel 2 Action News.
But protesters picketing outside New Birth Sunday morning said Long should have gone further.
“We don’t want him to take a few weeks off … we want a permanent absence,” said demonstrator Isaac Richmond. “Bishop Long has a serious moral character flaw.”
Are you surprised that there are still people supporting Bishop Long???