Bishop Eddie Long: This Thing I'M Going to Fight

By Craig Schneider, Shelia M. Poole
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
September 26, 2010

Bishop Eddie Long faced his congregation and the media this morning at 8 a.m. for 20 minutes to address allegations he took advantage, sexually, of young men who at the time were looking to the preacher for friendship and guidance. He also will speak at a 10 a.m. press conference and an 11 a.m. service. Below is a live, minute-by-minute report by AJC reporters and photographers at the church. See photos here. Read the full AP story here.

10:20 a.m. For the 11 a.m. session, media will not have the same access, according to officials at New Birth. Media credentials will be relinquished. Officials won't say whether the service will deviate from the 8 a.m. service, which was streamed live on the web and shown live on television.

10:08 a.m. Bishop Eddie Long's press conference was brief. He did not take questions. His wife was at his side. Here's what he did say: "On the advice of counsel, I am not going to address the allegations and the attacks. I want this to be dealt with in the court of justice not the court of public opinion. I am going to fight. Fight very vigorously. Things New Birth has stood for … we will continue to do." Video.

10:07 a.m. Bishop Eddie Long at the podium addressing the media. Reiterates that he will fight the allegations.

10:04 a.m. We're at the press conference and will have details and photos soon. Keep checking back for the report. Channel 2 Action News will also broadcast live if you're near a TV.

9:39 a.m. There is a press conference scheduled for 10 a.m. Check back for updates. We'll have a transcript of Long's talk.

9:23 a.m. Long spoke to the congregation for about 20 minutes. He did not specifically deny accusations, but he made it clear he would fight the allegations he took advantage, sexually, of young men who at the time were looking to the preacher for friendship and guidance. Long acknowledged the media and perhaps others who were tuning into the service, either live on TV or from the live stream from the church's website. "Good morning to all our other guests," he said. "... I do want to remind. We're here today and every Sunday morning. And I'll be here next week."

9:22 a.m. "I am not going to try this case in the media, it will be tried in the court of justice and decided in the court of justice. Please hear this: I've been accused. I'm under attack. I want you to know as I said earlier I am not a perfect man. ... But this thing I'm going to fight. I feel like David against Goliath, but I've got five rocks and I haven't thrown one yet."

9:21 a.m. "I have never in my life portrayed myself as a perfect man, but I am not the man being portrayed on television That's not me. That is not me."

9:15 a.m. "Without a doubt there are painful situations in life that are inescapable. About painful situations … We can control our response to them. You can curse it, and allow the situation to make you bitter … you can nurse it. You can rehearse it or you can reverse it … and allow the situation to make you better. ... Somehow and someway we will become better. ... We are going after the lost … and some of you who came here that think I'm lost … there will be an opportuntiy for you to come down here to the altar."

9:11 a.m. This is also live on Channel 2 Action News TV and web cast from New Birth.

9:10 a.m. More from Long: "This is difficult for everybody. This is probably the most diffucilt time in my life. Want to talk to you about how to handle painful and difficult situations. And start with scripture from Psalms 34:19. Y'all did know I was going to use my Bible today. I was just going to take a few moments. But I gotta talk to my family." Long reads: "Many are the afflictions of the righteous but the Lord dilevers him out of all of them. Above all this church, the church of the living God and all that is precious and holy at this moment."

9:08 a.m. More from Long: "My first responsibility is to my family.This an extremely difficult time for me and for my family. It's extremely difficult for you. [People] called you and asked you questions. You aint never got this many phone calls in your life. It's a time when you see the veil dropped and you see who's with you and who's not with you. As a pastor I want to help everybody. "

9:07 a.m. "This is an extremely difficult time for me." "... a time when you actually see the veil dropped and you see who's with you."

9 a.m. Long is at the podium. He takes off his glasses. Waits for applause. Walks around. Waits. Music kicks in. A good two minutes now gone by. "Good morning new birth. Good morning to all our other guests. And I would be remiss not to say good morning to the rest of the world. I do want to remind. We're here today and every Sunday morning. And I'll be here next week. First of all let me thank you on behalf on my wife my family for all of your support and prayers. We are certainly humbled by such a loving congregation. I realize many have been waiting on me to say something."

9 a.m. Long is in. Big response from congregation.

8:50 a.m. Scratch that last report. Channel 2 is now saying the Internet feed -- which you can access at New Birth Web site -- will stay up when Bishop Eddie Long addresses his congregation. AJC reporters are also in a media room outside the hall but within the church and they will report on Long's address.

8:45 a.m. Channel 2 Action news is reporting that New Birth will definitely cut feed before Long speaks.

8:45 a.m. New Birth officials are checking on the ambulance. They will not say when Long will address the congregation. There is a press conference scheduled for 10 a.m., so it's presumably before then. Inside the church, Bernice King is speaking, talking about giving money to church.

8:40 a.m. The live stream is showing a video of Bishop Eddie Long's visit to South Africa. We're still not sure whether New Birth will cut the feed before Long speaks live to address allegations.

8:30 a.m. A fire truck and ambulance just entered the grounds with lights going. No word on what it's about. We'll check.

8:18 a.m. The service has started. Plenty of music. Long has not appeared. There is still a steady stream of cars arriving. Access to live streaming video at New Birth or Channel 2 Action News.

7:56 a.m. The live stream of the service is on. Crowd is starting to get excited. Music is playing, man on stage is singing Hallelujah. People are standing, pumping their fists.

7:40 a.m. 20 minutes until Bishop Eddie Long is supposed to address his congregation. At the front of the church, people are gathering near the front of the stage, clustered together -- some slightly swaying.

7:30 a.m. There is a steady flow of traffic heading into New Birth now, but no significant backups at the church's entrance on Woodrow Road in Lithonia. Outside the church grounds, there are three media tents and at least five satellite trucks. Channel 2 Action News is broadcasting live and will be updating the story during their Sunday morning newscast.

7:20 a.m. Just a quick heads up on this morning. Long will speak at 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. services and will hold a press conference at 10 a.m. We'll have reports throughout the morning. You can also follow the AJC Twitter account.

6:45 a.m. Parishioners are already filing into New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia to hear Bishop Eddie Long. Long talked to supporters in conference call Friday, telling them that he was "under attack." But his comments were vague and he didn't take questions because of the pending suits. "We will arise through this situation, and go forward, and we are moving forward," Long said, according WGLC-TV which monitored the phone call. All other responses to the graphic allegations in the suit have come through a spokesman or his lawyer; Long denies the allegations against him.

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