BREAKING NEWS: New Birth Church Pastor Bishop Eddie Long dies at 63!
Atlanta area Bishop Eddie Long has died, officials with New Birth Missionary Baptist Church say.
New Birth Missionary Baptist Church’s senior pastor Eddie L. Long has died, according to the church.
He was 63 years old. "Today it is with great sadness I announce that our bishop has transitioned,” Bishop Christopher C. Smith said.
The expectant crowd, many already informed by social media and text messages, wailed and shrieked at the official announcement.
"He's no longer in pain,” Smith continues. "He's no longer dealing with the complications that he had to deal with."
A statement released by the church this morning confirms Long died early Sunday morning after “a gallant private fight with an aggressive form of cancer.”
There had been much speculation about Long’s health after he posted a video last year of him looking extremely thin. He never publicly disclosed the nature of his illness.
Twelve-year church member Nia Pillow, 20, said Long was more than a bishop to her. The film artist and cinematographer said he helped launch her on her career path when she was 13 and asked to help operate the church cameras.
People thought she was too young, she said. "Everybody said no, but Eddie Long said ‘yes," Pillow said.
The statement adds Long maintained his commitment to God as he proclaimed that cancer would not kill his faith nor his spirit.
Long was absent at several services during recent months but was present during Christmas and New Year’s Eve services.
First Lady Elder Vanessa Long, Bishop Long’s wife of 27 years said she is confident through her belief in God that her husband is now resting in a better place.
“Although, his transition leaves a void for those of us who loved him dearly, we can celebrate and be happy for him, knowing he’s at peace,” she said.
Through the years Bishop Long has encountered scandals. Long was found not guilty in Senate investigations concerning whether he personally profited from his church's tax-exempt status. Also, civil lawsuits were filed against him alleging sexual abuse of multiple underage male members of his parish. Long has denied wrongdoing through his attorneys and privately settled the lawsuits out of court for undisclosed amounts.
CNN has said "Long frequently denounces homosexual behavior." Long has ministered "homosexual cure" programs to recruit gays and lesbians for what he called "Sexual Reorientation" conferences and his church offers an ongoing "Out of the Wilderness" ministry to help convert homosexuals into heterosexuals. In 2004, Long led a march with Bernice King to the grave of her father, Martin Luther King, Jr. The march was a protest against same-sex marriage and in support of a national constitutional amendment to limit marriage rights to couples comprising "one man and one woman."
In 2006, Long's appearance at Atlanta's Interdenominational Theological Center's spring graduation stirred up controversy, and led to some students discussing a boycott. Long's invitation prompted Black theologian James Cone—who was scheduled to receive an honorary degree—to boycott the ceremony. Thirty-three graduating seniors sent a letter to the seminary's president "questioning Long's theological and ethical integrity to be their commencement speaker." Many students did not agree with Long's beliefs that God can "deliver" homosexuals and his teachings on prosperity. A 2007 article in the Southern Poverty Law Center's magazine called him "one of the most virulently homophobic black leaders in the religiously based anti–gay movement."
Long delivered his final message to New Birth as the church ushered in 2017.
“He told the church that God was already working in our favor and what we have been praying for was already manifested,” the statement says.
He is survived by his wife, First Lady Elder Vanessa Long, four children: Eric, Edward, Jared and Taylor; and three grandchildren.
The family appreciates support and respect of their privacy, as they prepare along with New Birth, for the homegoing service to honor Bishop Long. The date and other details will be announced in the near future.
Rest In Peace and only God can judge!