Eddie Long returns to the pulpit

“2012 is here! Shake off the remorse, shake off the depression, shake off the financial burden, start using your hands again and reconstructing! God is more about your future than he was about your past.”

That is the declaration made by ‘bishop’ Eddie Long upon his return to the pulpit of his New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, in Atlanta, Georgia.

Last December the embattled pastor announced he was taking some time off after his wife of 21 years filed for divorce.

“I’m still your pastor. You’ll still receive my direction,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted Long as saying at the time.

The paper also noted that

Long was sued in September 2010 lawsuit by former New Birth members Anthony Flagg, Spencer LeGrande, Jamal Parris and Maurice Robinson, who alleged the bishop used his influence, trips, gifts and jobs to coerce them into sexual relationships.

The suit was settled in May after months of mediation.

Long was appointed New Birth’s pastor in 1987 when the church had only 300 members. By its 10th anniversary New Birth reported a membership of roughly 18,000, peaking at 25,000. Attendance has declined in the year since the sexual coercion lawsuit was filed.

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