Thursday, March 3, 2011

Pay cuts
I-Team: Pay Cuts at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church
Updated: Wednesday, 02 Mar 2011, 12:11 AM EST
Published : Tuesday, 01 Mar 2011, 11:13 PM EST
By: DALE RUSSELL/myfoxatlanta

ATLANTA, Ga. - The FOX 5 I-Team has learned that Bishop Eddie Long's church is laying off employees and cutting staff salaries. Church officials blame it on the economy, while our church sources point to a drop in attendance.

Internal church records, obtained by the FOX 5 I-Team show that New Birth Missionary Baptist Church collected nearly $20 million last year with more than a million dedicated specifically for Bishop Long.

That million dollar plus collected in appreciation for Bishop Long is called a love offering.

The church says it went into the general operating fund along with another $18 million last year.

Now, the church staff is facing pay cuts.

When Bishop Eddie Long spoke at his New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in the past, his 10,000-member congregation was often packed to the rafters and financial contributions flowed freely. But church sources say attendance is down, now forcing the church to make dramatic cutbacks.

The I-Team was first to tell you how Jamal Parris and three other young men filed a sexual misconduct suit against Bishop Long and his New Birth Missionary Baptist church. In all four of the law suits, Bishop Long denied any sexual activity.

Then, another scandal rocked the church when the Bishop publicly declared members of his congregation may have lost more than a $1 million to an investment advisor named Ephren Taylor, after Taylor conducted workshops at New Birth. Ephren Taylor says he's done nothing wrong and is working to resolve or refund any issues with New Birth investors.

FOX 5 I-Team sources say the scandals have lead to a drop in attendance. Now, the church has laid off two employees and instituted a pay cut for New Birth staff.

According to e-mails obtained by the I-Team, on February 18 a church leader announced a "10-percent pay cut" for the staff until further notice. The e-mail stated the cuts will show up in the "next scheduled payday" in March. Until further notice, employees will work "a four-day work week."

In response to questions from the I-Team, the church called the pay cuts a "pilot program" that has the "potential to yield many positive benefits" that was implemented due to "the downturn in the economy."

This financial bad news is in sharp contrast to what we saw in an internal church document obtained by the I-Team. The document shows New Birth Missionary Baptist Church took in more than $19 million in tithes, offering, and blessings last year.

And, the document shows that more than $1,136,000 of that money was a "love offering" or contributions from New Birth parishioners specifically earmarked for Bishop Eddie Long.

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