Bishop Eddie Long, the controversial pastor of the Lithonia, Ga. megachurch New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, has died, according to a statement from the church.
The 63-year-old died Sunday morning “after a gallant private fight with an aggressive form of cancer,” the statement read. “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.”
Rumors began to swirl concerning the beleaguered minister’s health last year after videos were posted to social media in which dramatic weight loss made Long almost unrecognizable. While the church acknowledged the change in his appearance was due to health challenges, the actual illness was never disclosed.
“I am confidant through my belief in God that my husband is now resting in a better place,” said Bishop Long’s wife of 27 years Vanessa Long in the statement. “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.”
Long’s public image imploded in 2010 when several young men affiliated with the church’s youth academy accused the minister of sexual coercion and abuse. After vowing to fight the accusations, Long settled the lawsuits outside of court in 2011. His wife began divorce proceedings but later changed her mind.
Long is survived by his wife Vanessa; four children, Eric, Edward, Jared and Taylor and three grandchildren.