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The legacy of Bishop Eddie Long

RIP: Bishop Eddie Long (photo credit: Highlight Hollywood)

ONE OF America's leading black preachers, Bishop Eddie Long, senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church (NBMBC) was recently laid to rest following an aggressive bout of cancer.

Thousands turned out to pay homage to a man who had provided spiritual leadership and whose ministry had impacted many lives.

Following news of his death at 63 on 15 January, many took to social media to express their condolences. Bishop TD Jakes tweeted:

“Our prayers for the family of @BishopEddieLong and @newbirthmbc during this time of loss. May the God of Peace comfort you."

Byron Cage, a worship leader at NBMBC, wrote:

“See you in the rapture Bishop Eddie Long. It was my honour to serve New Birth for 12 years.”

Long’s daughter Taylor put a loving tribute on Instagram, stating:

“I love you Dad. Thank you for being perfect. I cherish every moment I’ve shared with you even up to your last breath.

“I don’t blame God for wanting
you back, I would too.”

These tributes are understandable.

Bishop Long, the son of a minister, was one of the black community’s foremost religious leaders. During his years at NBMBC, the congregation grew from 300 to 25,000 members to become one of the foremost black megachurches in the US, achieving success attracting men – a demographic missing from many black churches – and running numerous youth projects and community programmes.

Bishop Long was a dynamic preacher, who exuded visionary leadership and strength. Many people from across the world were impacted by his ministry.

One high point in Long’s ministry was when his church presided over the homegoing service of Coretta Scott-King, the widow of civil rights hero Martin Luther King. Four former US presidents were in attendance.

Additionally, for many years Long was a regular guest speaker at Kingsway International Christian Centre's (KICC) Gathering of Champions event.

Alongside the positive and respectful tributes following Long’s death, there were also negative ones. Some took to social media in the wake of his death to highlight the scandal that engulfed Long in 2010, when four young men filed lawsuits alleging that Long used his position to get sexual favours from them. Long denied the allegations and settled the case out of court – but his ministry was never the same.

He remained hopeful and trusting in God up until the end and was able to preach at NBMBC during Christmas and the New Year.

Long is survived by Vanessa, his wife of 27 years, four children and three grandchildren.

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