In this Sept. 26, 2010 file photo, Bishop Eddie Long speaks 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)
New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia, will hold services for Long at 11 a.m. Jan. 25, Elder Craig Heath said during an early morning international prayer call. Long died Sunday at age 63.
“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,” the statement said.
Leaders on the prayer call, which opened and closed with music, at times seemed emotional as they talked about how Long had always “sowed seeds” in them and in others. Heath said the service would celebrate his life, sacrifice and service.
New Birth members were told of Long’s death Sunday. Some sobbed and cried. Others prayed and leaned on those near them in support.
“Even though we don’t know the details right now, Bishop Long wouldn’t leave us in a lurch,” said longtime member Lela Brooks, a member for 29 years. “His legacy will live on. He did a lot of good and we won’t let that fade.”
Talis Burrell hadn’t been a member as long. Having joined in 2006, she said even though the congregation held out hope that Long had won the battle with his illness, she wasn’t completely caught off guard at his passing.
“He hadn’t really come back physically," she said.
“I’ve been a member here for 34 years and it’s just devastating,” said Keith Crowley. “It’s sad for the world.”
Crowley, like many members of New Birth, found out about Long’s death when it was announced during Sunday’s service.