Bishop Eddie Long Dead At 63
FILE - In a Sunday, Sept. 26, 2010 file photo, Bishop Eddie Long prepares to speak, at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church near Atlanta. Long, a prominent pastor who led one of metro Atlanta's largest churches, died Sunday, Jan. 15, 2017, the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church said in a statement to local media outlets. He was 63. (AP Photo/John Amis, Pool, File)
Bishop Eddie Long, the controversial pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Georgia, has reportedly died at age 63.
The church released a statement to Atlanta Journal-Constitution, confirming that Long died on Sunday morning after "a gallant private fight with an aggressive form of cancer."
Long had lost an alarming amount of weight within the past year and some months, and his full head of hair was replaced with a bald head, causing speculation and worry about his health. But aside from vague public statements that he was "recovering from a health challenge that I trust God to deliver me from," he didn't reveal his struggle with the disease.
According to The Root, Long grew New Birth Missionary Baptist Church from 300 members to 25,000, making it one of the biggest megachurches in Atlanta. The church hosted the funeral for Coretta Scott King, the wife of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in 2006. But Long was embattled outside of his success.
He was accused of receiving over $3 million in compensation and benefits from his nonprofit charity, despite the charity's tax-exempt status. An investigation found he and the other accused pastors of no wrongdoing, resulting with no charges or penalties.
Long was perhaps most controversial for allegations of sexual misconduct with four young men, aged 17 and 18, who were members of his congregation. There were no criminal charges because the age of consent in Georgia is 16. Those accusations were further complicated by Long's anti-homophobic stance and his support of "Sexual Reorientation" classes designed to convert homosexuals to heterosexuals.
Long is survived by his wife, First Lady Elder Vanessa Long, four children: Eric, Edward, Jared and Taylor; and three grandchildren. Funeral and memorial services will be announced.