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Bishop Eddie Long: Keep the Faith "In the Wake of Life's Storms," Embattled Pastor Tells Congregation

Bishop Eddie Long speaks Sept. 26, 2010, at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta. Long, the pastor of a Georgia megachurch accused of luring young men into sexual relationships, has told his congregation of thousands that all people must face painful and distasteful situations.
AP Photo/John Amis
Bishop Eddie Long: Pastor Faithful "In Wake of Life's Storms,"  Does Not Speak On Allegations
Bishop Eddie Long (AP Photo/John Amis)

NEW YORK (CBS) Bishop Eddie Long, the megachurch pastor named in four current sex harassment lawsuits, advised followers Tuesday night to remain faithful "in the wake of life's storms," according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

PICTURES: Bishop Eddie Long

Addressing his nearly 30,000 member congregation in an "empowerment service" at Atlanta's New Birth Missionary Church, Long did not say whether the "storms" had anything to do with the lawsuits he's facing - five in all - four of which allege that he coerced four young men into sexual relationships in exchange for lavish gifts, face-time with celebrities and trips when they were teenage members of his church.

Long is also the target of another lawsuit that claims he and two business partners owe over $1.8 million on a defaulted property loan from when the three men purchased an Atlanta-area gym.

"When you're dong well, everybody ain't happy," he said according to the paper.

The pastor has not directly denied the allegations of sexual misconduct; instead he has insisted on separate occasions to his flock that he will not be pulled into a street fight that he has labeled "spiritual warfare."

Long said he knew members of New Birth have been questioned as to why they still choose to attend the place of worship that is now caught in a whirlwind of controversy.

"I didn't build New Birth and because I didn't build it, I can't kill it," according to AJC. "God started this. I'm not worried about the future of New Birth because hell can't stop what God has started."

The New Birth megachurch was mentioned in the four lawsuits filed against Long last month and was also named in a fifth lawsuit filed last week by former employee Tamara Colson. Colson claimed that she was sexually harassed by a male supervisor who allegedly showed her a picture of male genitals. Long is not named in that suit.

Many of Long's followers have remained loyal to the outspokenly anti-gay pastor - some have called the men's allegations "lies," according to CBS affiliate WGCL.

However, in early October the pastor of a small South Carolina church called for Long's resignation and plans a rally in Atlanta at the end of the month in order to "support the integrity and character of the Christian faith."

COMPLETE COVERAGE OF BISHOP EDDIE LONG ON CRIMESIDER