Bishop Eddie Long has died, according to a statement released by Georgia-based New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. The cause of death has been confirmed as cancer, the statement explained (below). Long was 63.
The church, which is one of the nation's largest megachurches and has boasted about 25,000 members at its peak, has said, "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."
The church has also confirmed that Long died following a battle with an "aggressive form of cancer."
His wife, Vanessa Long has added: "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."
Over recent months, Long had been in the news repeatedly for his drastic weight loss, and it was confirmed that he was battling an undisclosed "health challenge." He publicly announced last September that he was facing the "health challenge" after he could no longer say that his fast disappearing figure was due to a raw vegan diet.
Since his announcement, his illness has resulted in prolonged absences from his ministry for more than a month at one point, and he told his congregation just weeks before the New Year's Eve service that the church would start holding just one service.
In that same service, Long told inquiring members of his congregation that he stopped answering their calls because they were asking too many questions. If they wanted to help him, he said, just keep coming to church and bring a friend.
"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 an Long in a clip from the Dec. 11, 2016, sermon posted on YouTube.
Long is survived by his wife, four children and three grandchildren. The church also stated that it would announce details of a homegoing service to honor Bishop Long in the near future.
Below is the statement released by New Birth Missionary Baptist Church announcing the death of Bishop Eddie Long:
NEW BIRTH CELEBRATES THE LIFE OF BISHOP EDDIE L. LONG FOLLOWING HIS TRANSITION TO OUR HEAVENLY FATHER
LITHONIA, GA – Sunday, January 15
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."
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.