By Denise Williams
The Florida/Georgia Star
Bishop Eddie Lee Long senior Pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in DeKalb County, GA died January 15, 2017 at age 63. The larger than life figure who sported tight muscle shirts and Jerri curls is no longer with us. His cause of death was an aggressive form of gastro-intestinal cancer, diagnosed in the 4th stage. In late 2016 he was hospitalized, and his insiders worked diligently to keep the details of his health condition cryptic. It was only disclosed as a “grave illness” at that time. Later, the Bishop cited a new vegan diet as the cause of his rapid weight loss which left him nearly unrecognizable. In early October 2016, sources revealed he was hospitalized in Oasis of Hope Hospital Cancer Research & Alternative Treatment Center in Tijuana, B.C., Mexico. The parishioners were then advised that the Bishop is on a sabbatical battling an unspecified health challenge.
New Birth Missionary Baptist Church was home for Bishop Long from 1987 until his death. The mega-ministry hosted nearly 25,000 members and was the pinnacle of success in Christian church circles. Everyone from politicians to world leaders graced the hall of what many referred to as “Club New Birth.” His growing popularity gave him a nationwide platform allowing him to address Congress, meet with former U.S. President Clinton and officiate the funeral of Coretta Scott King wife of slain civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr. in 2006.
Eddie Lee Long was born May 12, 1953, in Huntsville, N.C. While many of his parishioners praised him for his generosity, community service and kindness he is not a stranger to controversy. His interest in youth, especially young men gave rise to four young men; teenagers and members of his ministry at the time to bring charges against him for coercing them into sexual encounters. In addition to his wife initiating divorce proceedings in 2011 which the Bishop stated was due to the pressure of being a Pastors’s wife, the
sexual allegations divided his once thriving ministry.
The young men alleged that church funds were used to seduce them with gifts of cars, jewelry, electronics and clothing to buy their silence. In 2010, a settlement was reached with the accusers for an undisclosed amount. Bishop Long was known for preaching against same-sex relationships and never admitted to any inappropriate behavior with the young men of his congregation. His ministry never fully recovered from the public disgrace of this lawsuit.
The Bishop was also at the center of another lawsuit after hosting a “Wealth Tour Live” conference (October 2009) which gave a platform to Ephren Taylor Jr. an investor representing City Capital Corp. Congregants were influenced to invest funds which would guarantee a return only to find out that Taylor was not licensed to sell investments. This lawsuit listed Bishop Eddie Long, Ephren Taylor, and City Capital as defendants.
Bishop and his wife Vanessa were reconciled at the time of his death. He leaves to mourn him his wife of 27 years, Vanessa. He has four children Edward, Taylor, Jared, Eric and three grandchildren.