Bishop Eddie L. Long, pastor of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia, passed away Jan. 15 following a battle with cancer. He was 63 years old.
According to a statement released by the church, Long’s death was due to an “aggressive form of cancer.” Elder Vanessa Long, his wife of 27 years, said in a statement, “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.”
In recent months, Long had been in the news for his drastic weight loss. He publicly announced in September 2016 that he was facing the “health challenge” but declined to specifically cite his disease.
His illness resulted in prolonged absences from his ministry and he told his congregation just weeks before the New Year’s Eve service that the church would start holding just one service.
“I know a lot of you try to contact me, and call me and text me. I can’t return all the texts, I get all the love. Just know I can’t do it. It’s just too many, too many,” stressed Long in a Dec. 11, 2016, sermon posted on YouTube.
Long made national news after several men sued him alleging that Long forced them into sexual relationships while they were teens attending his church. He settled with the men in May 2011.
Plans for his homegoing service will be announced in the near future, according to the church statement.
In addition to his wife, Long is survived by his children, Eric, Edward, Jared and Taylor and three grandchildren.
Christianpost.com contributed to this report.