eddie-long_web.jpgATLANTA — Megachurch leader Bishop Eddie Long announced he's taking time off to focus on his family after his wife filed for divorce.

Long's spokesman Art Franklin said that the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church leader told his congregation Sunday that he will continue to serve as senior pastor at the church in Lithonia, an Atlanta suburb but that he needs a sabbatical.

Franklin would not say how much time Long planned to take off.

Long's wife, Vanessa Long, filed for divorce Dec. 1.

The split comes more than a year after allegations that Eddie Long used his lavish lifestyle and position of spiritual authority to lure four young men into sexual relationships. He settled the cases but has never admitted to any wrongdoing.

Vanessa Long, who stood by her husband as he battled the accusations that he seduced the young men with cars, clothes and trips, said Friday through an attorney that she is proceeding with plans to end their 21-year marriage.

Her announcement late Friday came a day after she had filed for divorce and hours after she issued a statement through the church saying she loved her husband, had changed her mind and wanted to reconcile.

The statement late Friday by her attorney said “she has determined that dismissal of her divorce petition is not appropriate at this time.”

“Mrs. Long continues to hope that this matter may be resolved expeditiously, harmoniously and fairly,” the statement read.

Photo: Bishop Eddie Long