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Viewing of Bishop Eddie Lee Long mourners and people that just seemed to wanted to know what was going on arrived at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church this morning.
The influential and controversial megachurch pastor died Jan. 15 of cancer at age 63.
Inside of the church, two lines formed as people signed guestbooks before being ushered inside to view the body of Long, who lay in repose in the front of the pulpit at the alter of Lithonia sanctuary. A human chain of ushers kept the line moving quickly — like a well-oiled machine.
Florist vans pulled up to the entrance as delivery drivers brought in plants and mostly white and off-white floral arrangements that were placed next to dozens more on display in the vestibule.
Nestled between two rows of flowers rested a coffin with carvings on the top and at its head, more flowers arranged in the shape of New Birth’s emblem.
Inside, Long lay dressed in red shoes as a presiding prelate and wore scarlet and white clerical robes and a cape with gold trim. Around his neck rested a large gold cross, and there were several rings on his fingers.
Gregory B. Levett and Sons Funeral Home & Crematory was in charge of arrangements. The funeral program starts at 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at New Birth. Long will lie in repose 8 a.m. until 9:30 a.m. prior to the funeral.
Senate Resolution 43, sponsored by state Sen. Tonya Anderson, D-Lithonia, calls Long “a person of magnanimous strengths.”
Long, a former corporate salesman and car salesman, is credited with building the ministry from 300 people to a high of 25,000. His ministry, though, was not without controversy.
Long was criticized for his stance against gay marriage and homosexuality and even marched against same-sex marriage when Bush was running for a second term.
Which is why it was so shocking when the news broke that four young men came forward accusing him of sexual relationships. In 2010, he was sued by four male former church members alleging inappropriate sexual relationships. A fifth man became part of the settlement. Long denied the allegations and agreed to pay a settlement out of court. The details were never known, but it is rumored it was upwards of $20 million dollars.
There had been much speculation about Long’s health after he posted a video last year in which he appeared extremely thin. We broke the story here at Obnoxious Media that he was infact diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. The following week he released a statement confirming we were correct that he was having a very serious health challenge. Although, he never publicly disclosed the nature of his illness, but the church released a statement that he died after a battle with cancer.
“Nobody is perfect in this world,” One Long supporter said. “We expect him as a man of God to stand up and say I have sinned — if he did it. If he didn’t tell us, maybe he told God. He doesn’t have to tell us, really. That’s between him and God.”
Long is survived by his wife, Vanessa Long, and four children: Eric, Edward, Jared and Taylor; and three grandchildren.