Bishop Eddie Long, the embattled leader of a renowned mega church, passed away from cancer on Sunday at the age of 63.
Long was ordained as the pastor of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in 1987 when the Atlanta-based church had just 300 members. However, under his ministry, the congregationÂ expanded to 25,000 members, making it one of the largest mega churches in the country.
Long was known for living and preaching a gospel of prosperity. He traveled around on private jet, lived in a million-dollar home, and drove a $350,000 Bently. He was also a staunch opponent to homosexuality. However, in 2010, he was submerged into a firestorm of controversy when four young men accused him of coercing them into sex in exchange for gifts when they were just teenagers. Although Long denied the allegations, he settled with the men in a private lawsuit for an undisclosed amount of money. His wife, Vanessa Long, filed for divorce in 2011, but the two later reconciled.
On Sunday,Â New Birth issued the following statement to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
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.â€
Deeply committed to his church, even in his last days, Bishop Long delivered his final message to New Birth as we 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. In his departure, we receive that and as faithful members of New Birth, we praise God for the life of Bishop Long. Bishop Long was known as one of the most influential faith leaders in the world. He stood strong as a Kingdom Builder, pioneering leader, and revolutionary mind changer. Long was a family man and spiritual leader who was well respected and loved for his passion to unapologetically and courageously preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. Long inspired thousands of believers around the world through his global ministry that literally changed lives. Through his earthly battle, Bishop Long believed that God was once again using him to help others see the power of the Holy Spirit through the love New Birth displayed to him and the countless prayers sent up by others from every corner of the earth.Bishop Eddie L. Long was 63 years old. He is survived by his beautiful wife, First Lady Elder Vanessa Long, 4 children Eric, Edward, Jared and Taylor and 3 grandchildren. The Long family thanks you for your prayers, condolences and messages of love. The family appreciates your 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.