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Lawyer of megachurch pastor's wife says divorce is on again

John Amis / AP

Bishop Eddie Long kisses is wife Vanessa Long before speaking on Sept. 26, 2010, at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church near Atlanta. Vanessa Long withdrew her petition for divorce on Friday, hours after filing for the split.

Updated at 8 p.m. EST

The divorce of Bishop Eddie Long, the Georgia megachurch pastor once accused of coercing four young men into having sex, is on again, according to his wife's lawyer.

A change of heart was reported earlier Friday just hours after Vanessa Long had announced that she had filed for divorce from Long after 21 years of marriage.

In a statement issued late Friday, Vanessa Long's attorney says "she has determined that dismissal of her divorce petition is not appropriate at this time."

Earlier Friday, she said in a statement released through Eddie Long's New Birth Missionary Baptist Church that she loves her husband and planned to withdraw her petition.  

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution had reported

"Upon prayerful reflection, I have reconsidered and plan to withdraw my petition for divorce from my husband, Bishop Eddie L. Long," she said in an emailed statement bearing the New Birth logo. "I love my husband. I believe in him and admire his strength and courage."
She went on to blame "years of attacks in the media" for her initial decision to seek a divorce.

The church's statement represented an about face from Long, who said earlier she decided to "terminate my marriage" after "a great deal of deliberation and prayer."

"It is my sincere hope that this matter can be resolved expeditiously, harmoniously, and fairly," she said in her initial statement.

"I ask that you respect my privacy and that of my family, as my attorneys and I have agreed that we will not try this case in the media, and I do not intend to make any further statements concerning this matter," she added. "I also ask that the public pray for my entire family during this difficult period of transition."

According to the divorce petition filed Thursday in DeKalb Superior Court, the couple is "currently living in a bona fide state of separation."

In May this year, Bishop Long settled lawsuits filed by the four men who once attended the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, in suburban Atlanta.

Days later the congregation cheered Long as he took the pulpit, while the choir opened the service with the hymn "Moving Forward," which began: "I'm not going back, I'm moving ahead. Here to declare to you my past is over."

The allegations by the men were not investigated criminally because Georgia's age of consent is 16. The young men were 17 and 18 when the alleged sexual contact occurred.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Earlier: Megachurch pastor's wife seeks divorce

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