Bernice King, MLK's daughter, leaves Eddie Long's church
The Rev. Bernice King shares the pulpit with Bishop Eddie Long at New Birth Missionary Church in this file photo.
May 31st, 2011
06:30 PM ET

Bernice King, MLK's daughter, leaves Eddie Long's church

By John Blake, CNN

(CNN) - The Rev. Bernice King, daughter of the legendary civil rights leader, is leaving an Atlanta megachurch that’s been rocked by a sex scandal involving its preacher.

King’s announcement came a week after Bishop Eddie Long, senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Church, settled out of court with four young men who filed lawsuits against him last year claiming he coerced them into sexual relationships.

King said her announcement had nothing to do with Long’s legal battles. She said Tuesday she was “tremendously blessed” by Long’s ministry but that now she’s going start her own.

“I’m going to launch a ministry. I’m not calling it a church right now,” King said during an interview with Atlanta radio station Praise 102.5. “What God is showing me doesn’t look like what people are accustomed to.”

King said her ministry would “educate, empower and equip” a new generation of church leaders, and she promised more details in the future. King had been an elder at New Birth for eight years.

During her interview, she said it was incorrect to say that she had “resigned” from New Birth because she was never on the church’s staff.

“I occasionally worked in the pulpit and preached, but that was the extent of it,” she said. "When I came to New Birth, I came for a season.”

King’s stay at New Birth was punctuated by controversy.

In 2004, she and Long led a march to the Atlanta tomb of her father, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., calling for a constitutional ban on gay marriage.

The march was publicly condemned by some members of her father's inner circle. One of her father's closest advisers was gay, and his widow, Coretta Scott King, was a vocal supporter of gay rights.

Bernice King also was criticized for holding the 2006 funeral of her mother at New Birth instead of at Ebenezer Baptist Church, the Atlanta institution once led by her father. Critics said Long’s embrace of the prosperity gospel contradicted the emphasis on social justice that her father preached.

The Rev. Raphael Warnock, senior pastor of Ebenezer, said Bernice King ultimately will be known for more than her association with Long.

“This might be for her a moment of spiritual renewal and serious reflection about what her next steps might be,” Warnock said. “Rev. King has been through a season of transition in many ways.”

The Rev. Gerald L. Durley, senior pastor of Providence Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, said King won’t be tainted by her association with Long.

“New Birth was a bridge,” he said. “I’ve never seen anybody build a house on a bridge. A bridge takes her to another destination.”

During her radio interview, King said she had recently talked with Long about leaving his church.

“He gave me his blessings and supported me,” she said.

Whatever she chooses to do next, Durley said, King will bring many strengths: intelligence, humility and empathy forged by her own unique upbringing.

“She had to go through so much suffering at a young age,” Durley said. “She’s been in the spotlight. She’s expected not just to be Martin Luther King, but to pick up the mantle.”

- CNN Writer

Filed under: Celebrity • Christianity • Pastors

soundoff (276 Responses)
  1. Rev. George Brooks

    If you're talking about some anti-Christ, none of you should certainly NOT leave any and every Jew out of it. But of course, y'all are all so afraid and chicken to even whisper a complaint about the anti-Jesus Jews, who hate not only Jesus, but Christianity, as well. And read John 8:44, where Jesus (a Jew himself) even says that the father of the Jews is the devil. So wake us folks, and stop idolizing Jews, just because Jesus came out of them, and was one. But don't hold your breath waiting for your preachers to say anything about them, either, because they are just as afraid and chicken as you are. - Rev. George Brooks of Murfreesboro, TN,. via California.

    October 24, 2011 at 7:20 am |
  2. Loreen

    It seems that Bernice also may have looked to Bishop Eddie Long as a mentor, like so many who attend his church. This is understandable since her own father, Martin Luther King, has long been deceased. In light of the scandal that has rocked New Birth, I can understand how this may have some bearing on Bernice's departure. Sometimes things become too heavy for us to carry, and Bernice has had to carry a lot. God Bless her in whatever she does and God Bless the sheep of New Birth Christian Church.

    June 24, 2011 at 8:19 pm |
  3. Marie Kidman


    June 23, 2011 at 11:47 am |
  4. test


    June 19, 2011 at 11:58 pm |
    • test


      June 20, 2011 at 12:00 am |
    • test


      June 20, 2011 at 12:02 am |
  5. Truth Teller

    Please don't abuse me with your censorship. If I'm in error. Show me by the Bible. Thanks, Have a nice day.

    June 6, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
  6. Truth Teller

    THIS JUST IN ! Martin Luther said " I know who the anti christ is " Its the pope. and John Knox and all the other reformers agreed. Don't ask your pastor, ask your Bible.

    June 6, 2011 at 8:18 pm |
  7. Truth Teller

    If you against what I say your siding with the anti-christ pope, you jesuit you! Why are you jesuits so evil.

    June 5, 2011 at 4:14 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.