Bishop Eddie Long returns to the pulpit

View Photo Gallery: The Georgia megachurch pastor built a religious empire just outside Atlanta.and has been a national figure in African … Continued

View Photo Gallery: The Georgia megachurch pastor built a religious empire just outside Atlanta.and has been a national figure in African American church circles since the mid-1990s. He came to national prominence in 2006 when his New Missionary Baptist Church hosted four U.S. presidents for the funeral of Coretta Scott King.

Eddie Long has returned to public ministry. The senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church returned to preach during a New Year’s Eve service at the suburban Atlanta church. He took a leave of absence to deal with family issues. In December, the embattled pastor’s wife of 21 years, filed for divorce, citing “irreconcilable differences” with “no hope of reconciliation.”

“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,” Long said during the service, according to Charisma News.

“I’m still your pastor. You’ll still receive my direction,” the Atlanta Journal-Constitution quoted Long saying. “You’ve given me some weeks to take care of some family business.”

Long will attend weekly services at the church, said his spokesman Art Franklin, according to an Associated Press story.

Long has denied allegations of sexual misconduct by four men, but in May 2011, the minister reached an out-of-court settlement with the former church members following months of mediation.

On Sunday, the church announced plans to reopen New Birth Academy Thursday, according to a report by Rolling The school Long founded closed in December. The church cited the ailing economy and low enrollment as contributing factors for closing the school.

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