Bernice King leaving Bishop Long's megachurch
ATLANTA (AP) — The youngest daughter of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. is leaving an Atlanta megachurch where the pastor has been embroiled in scandal, months after she turned down a leadership role with the organization her father co-founded.
Bernice King told a radio interviewer Tuesday that her last Sunday as a member of new Birth Missionary Baptist Church was this past Sunday. She made the comment on Praise 102.5, a gospel station in Atlanta.
In January, King announced she would not lead the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which her father headed during the height of the civil rights movement.
King's decision comes days after New Birth founder Bishop Eddie Long reached a settlement in the sexual misconduct lawsuits he has fought since September.
King did not address any of the controversy surrounding Long in the interview. She said she told Long in early April she was planning to leave New Birth. King said she plans to start a new ministry, but did not give details about it.
"I'm not calling it a church right now," she said.
Earlier in the day, Long said in an e-mailed statement to The Associated Press that he and King have been "in discussion and prayer" for some time about her decision to leave the church to continue the legacy of her parents.
King has said her need to do so has grown stronger since the death of her mother, Coretta Scott King, in 2006.
"I am in full support of her decision to leave New Birth in pursuit of this worthy endeavor," the statement reads. "Reverend Bernice King has made tremendous and profound contributions to New Birth as an elder and faithful servant. We ask that you join us in extending unequivocal support and love for Reverend King as she embarks on this new calling."
Long said a farewell tribute for King is planned, but a date has not been set. The church did not announce King's departure on Sunday, instead focusing on a Memorial Day tribute to fallen soldiers and their families.