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Eddie Long Takes Leave From Atlanta Megachurch Due to 'Family Issues'


Sept. 26, 2010: In this file photo, Bishop Eddie Long speaks at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Ga. (AP)

Atlanta megachurch pastor Bishop Eddie Long said Sunday he is taking a leave from his church to deal with "family issues."

He made the announcement during services at New Birth Missionary Church, WSB-TV reported. He did not specify how long he would be on leave.

His wife Vanessa Long released a statement early Friday saying she had filed for divorce a day earlier, reported.

She released another statement Friday afternoon indicating she had withdrawn the petition "upon prayerful reflection," but on Friday night, her attorney released a statement saying the divorce was back on.

A spokesman from New Birth Missionary denied rumors Long was stepping down from his position as senior pastor in a statement to WSB.

"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," it said.

In September 2010, four young men connected to Long's church -- based in the Atlanta suburb of Lithonia -- accused the pastor of coercing them into having sex.

He denied the allegations and a settlement was reached in May before the matters were dismissed.

A fifth man, Centino Kemp, said he had been sexually involved with Long for years and was paid a $150,000 settlement despite not being involved in the four other accusers' lawsuit, according to

Long boasts a membership at his church of between 25,000 and 30,000 people. He has spoken vehemently in the past of his opposition to homosexuality and called for a ban on same-sex marriage.

His church also hosts seminars promising to "cure" homosexuality.

Vanessa and Eddie Long were married in 1990. They have three children together.

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