Bishop Eddie Long, the controversial pastor of Georgia megachurch, New Birth Missionary Baptist, has died from an “aggressive form of cancer” according to the church. He was 63 years old.
New Birth Missionary Baptist Church made the following statement:
“New Birth Missionary Baptist Church celebrates the life and legacy of Bishop Eddie L. Long who is now spiritually healed and home with the Lord. Bishop Long, Senior Pastor of New Birth, transitioned from this life early Sunday morning after a gallant private fight with an aggressive form of cancer. As a man of God with unyielding faith, Bishop Long maintained his commitment to our Heavenly Father as he proclaimed that cancer would not kill his faith nor his spirit. First Lady Elder Vanessa Long, Bishop Long’s wife of 27 years offered the following. “I am confidant through my belief in God that my 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.”
Deeply committed to his church, even in his last days, Bishop Long delivered his final message to New Birth as we ushered in 2017.
“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.”
Deeply committed to his church, even in his last days, Bishop Long delivered his final message to New Birth as we ushered in 2017. At his last public appearance two weeks ago, the senior pastor had lost a significant amount of weight, prompting more than a few comments on social media about his thin, gaunt appearance, prognoses about the state of his health, and even rumors of hospice care.
Long faced serious controversy throughout his tenure—from financial impropriety to sexual misconduct with young men from his congregation (he was staunchly against homosexuality and advocated and sponsored “Sexual Reorientation” classes to supposedly convert homosexuals to heterosexuals.)
Bishop Long was born May 12, 1953, in Huntersville, N.C., to the Rev. Floyd M. Long, Jr. and Hattie Long. Eddie Long attended North Carolina Central University in Durham, N.C., where he received a bachelor’s degree in 1977.
He became pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist ten years later and reportedly grew the church from 300 to 25,000 members. In 2006, the church was chosen by the family of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to host and officiate the funeral for matriarch Coretta Scott King. The service was attended by four U.S. Presidents—Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush, George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.