(Atlanta, GA) Early Sunday morning (September 26) church members, media, and even those hoping to get a first-hand look at the growing controversy, gathered at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia to hear Bishop Eddie L. Long speak publicly for the first time following allegations made against him last week.
Watch: The Streets React to the Allegations
Bishop Long addressed those at New Birth around 9 a.m. and was welcomed by cheers and welcoming claps by the crowd of churchgoers. He quickly addressed rumors that he would be stepping down as the church’s pastor by stating that he would be there next week.
“I realize that many have been waiting for me to do something,” said Bishop Long shortly after beginning his sermon. “My first responsibility was to my family and then my next responsibility is not to address the world before I address my family and New Birth.”
Watch: Video of Bishop Long's Address
Bishop Long referred to various scriptures during his sermon including Psalm 34:19 and even made references to Hurricane Katrina, the 2004 tsunami in Asia, and voting. He did not directly speak on the sexual abuse allegations or the subsequent lawsuits filed against him, but he did refer to what has been going on in the media.
“I have never in my life portrayed myself as a perfect man, but I am not the man that’s being portrayed on the television. That is not me, that is not me…I am not gonna try this case in the media. It will be tried in the court of justice and dealt with in the course of justice,” explained Bishop Long while greeted with a standing ovation.
Bishop Long concluded his sermon, which lasted only minutes, with a comparison to David. “I feel like David against Goliath, but I got five rocks and I haven’t thrown one yet,” said Bishop Long.
“I’m glad he addressed us and his family before the media,” said Marquita Brown, a former New Birth member visiting from Alabama. “It’s really a trying time for Bishop Long. He said exactly what he needed to say today and hopefully the media will leave this man alone and the courts get him justice.”
While the majority of those in attendance at this morning’s service expressed their utmost support for Bishop Long, some remained skeptical following his sermon.
“I think he was kind of negative,” said Talaia Whisenant, 25, who attended this morning’s New Birth service. “I felt nothing spiritual or powerful in his speech and I don’t think it’s smart for his congregation to praise him without knowing all the facts.”
It is still unclear when the four lawsuits against Bishop Long will be taken to court.