T hrongs of worshippers packed into New Birth Missionary Baptist Church early Sunday, with lines starting as early as 5:30 AM to enter the church service. Vehicles were backed up for half a mile along the streets. Bishop Eddie Long spoke for more than 20 minutes to his congregation in the wake of allegations of sexual coercion, dismissing the claims head on.
He said his first responsibility was to his family, and the some 25,000 members of the Atlanta-area New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. However, he added that he would be remiss not to address the world.
“We’re here every Sunday Morning, and I’ll be here next week,” Bishop Long said. “We are humbled by such a loving congregation. This is an extremely difficult time for me and my family,” he went on. “This is an extremely difficult time for you,” he told the congregation. “You ain’t never gotten this many phone calls in your life.”
“I have never in my life portrayed myself as a perfect man. But I am not the man that’s being portrayed on the TV. That’s not me. That is not me,” Bishop Long said. “By the counsel of my lawyers they have advised me not to try this case in the media. It will be tried in a court of justice and dealt with in a court of justice and please understand that’s the only place I think I’ll get justice.”
“I’ve been accused, I’m under attack. I want you to know, as I said earlier, that I am not a perfect man,” he said. “But this thing, I’m going to fight.” he said to cheers.
“And I want you to know one other thing,” he told the cheering crowd Sunday morning. “I feel like David against Goliath, but I’ve got five rocks and I haven’t thrown one yet.” He then drop the mic, turned on his heel and walked away from the pulpit, ending his 20-minute address.