ATLANTA – The youngest daughter of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. is leaving the Atlanta megachurch where the pastor has been embroiled in scandal, months after she turned down a leadership role with the organization her father co-founded.
In January, Bernice King announced she would not lead the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which her father headed during the height of the civil rights movement. Four months later, she is announcing her departure from her mentor and spiritual father, Bishop Eddie Long, and the church home where she has served for nearly a decade, New Birth Missionary Baptist Church.
King's decision comes days after Long reached a settlement in the sexual misconduct lawsuits he has fought since September. King is expected to address her future ministry plans Tuesday on a local gospel radio station.
Long confirmed Tuesday that King has left New Birth. In a statement e-mailed to The Associated Press by his spokesman, Long said that he and King have been "in discussion and prayer" for some time about her decision to leave the church to continue the legacy of her parents.
King has said her need to do so has grown stronger since the death of her mother, Coretta Scott King, in 2006.
"I am in full support of her decision to leave New Birth in pursuit of this worthy endeavor," the statement reads. "Reverend Bernice King has made tremendous and profound contributions to New Birth as an elder and faithful servant. We ask that you join us in extending unequivocal support and love for Reverend King as she embarks on this new calling."
Long said a farewell tribute for King is planned, but a date has not been set. The church did not announce King's departure on Sunday, instead focusing on a Memorial Day tribute to fallen soldiers and their families.