Controversial Baltimore megachurch pastor Jamal Bryant is set to take over the pulpit at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Atlanta, where he will deliver his first sermon on Dec. 9.
Bryant assumes the post of senior pastor of the church that was once led by the late Eddie Long.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Bryant, who currently leads the 10,000-member Empowerment Temple, was chosen from a pool of 138 candidates to take the reins of a church that in its heyday boasted 25,000 members.
Membership at New Birth has since dropped to about 10,000 after Long was hit in 2010 by a series of sex scandals involving allegations from multiple young men that haunted him until his death in January 2017.
Asked why he chose to leave Empowerment Temple for New Birth, Bryant told AJC, “Because it’s New Birth. … I realize we’ve got some work to do. By myself, I cannot. Together we will.”
Bishop Stephen A. Davis, who took over leadership of New Birth shortly after Long’s death, resigned from the church in June. Bryant was among several pastors to serve as guest preachers as the church looked for a replacement, delivering a spirited sermon at the church about a month ago.
Bryant revealed shortly after Long’s death that the beleaguered bishop had helped pay his way at Morehouse College. He also criticized New Birth for the way the sexual misconduct allegations against him were handled.
“I know people are gonna be upset with me,” Bryant said. “I know you don’t want to talk about this. But here’s the reality, we didn’t talk about it in bishop’s life … and at this point, many would argue, it is inappropriate to deal with it on the day after his death, and maybe, I don’t know. I do know the church has to deal with it.”
Bryant’s ministry at Empowerment Temple was almost destroyed after he admitted to an extramarital affair while he was married to Gizelle Bryant, who now stars on Bravo TV’s “Real Housewives of Potomac.”
Since his divorce, Bryant, who has three daughters with his ex-wife, was also alleged to have fathered another child.