Georgia pastor Eddie Long, accused of coercing young males into sexual relationships, told his congregation Sunday that “this is probably the most difficult time” of his entire life, but that he intends to fight the allegations against him.
He said his first responsibility was 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.”
“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.”
“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 turned on his heel and walked away from the pulpit, ending his 20-minute address.
Long, who led the growth of the Atlanta-area New Birth Missionary Baptist Church to 25,000 members, spoke about the matter during the 8 a.m. worship service. He also scheduled a 10 a.m. news conference. The church also has an 11 a.m. service.
Throngs of worshippers packed into the church auditorium early Sunday, with lines of vehicles backed up for half a mile along the streets. Drivers said the turnout was unprecedented for the massive church.
The pastor, on the advice of his lawyers, has had little to say publicly until now.
“Let me be clear: The charges against me and New Birth are false,” Long said in a statement released Thursday. “I have devoted my life to helping others and these false allegations hurt me deeply, but my faith is strong and the truth will emerge.”