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Long, Eddie L.

Eddie L. Long
1953–

Bishop

Born in 1953 in Charlotte, North Carolina, Eddie L. Long is one of four sons born to Hattie and Reverend Floyd Long. He received his basic education in the Charlotte public school system. According to Long, when he was in the seventh grade, a guidance counselor told him that he was too dumb to go to college. However, in the last week of his high school senior year, another guidance counselor told him that he could and would go to college, and she helped him apply to North Carolina Central University in Durham.

His early interest in a position in the corporate world led him to pursue a B.S. in business administration, which he received from North Carolina Central University in 1976. He worked for brief periods with the Ford Company in Richmond, and with Honeywell in Atlanta. His upbringing in a Christian home gave spiritual meaning to his life and helped him reach the decision to study theology. Long became licensed in the ministry in 1981 and sometime later was ordained as pastor of Atlanta's Morning Star Baptist Church. He received a master's of divinity degree from Atlanta's Interdenominational Theological Center in 1986. Additionally, in 1998 he received honorary doctorates from North Carolina Central University and Beulah Heights Bible College of Atlanta, and still later from the Morehouse School of Religion.

Ministry Emerges

In 1987 Long became pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church with a congregation consisting of a little more than three hundred members. After his installation, the church's membership quickly multiplied to well over 25,000, with 40 percent of his congregation being African American males. Under his leadership, the church facility grew from a chapel seating five hundred to a sanctuary in 1991 which seats 3,700; a 5,000-seat Family Life Center in 1999; and finally a Mega Worship Center with a capacity of 10,500 in 2001. This magnificent worship edifice is located in the heart of De Kalb County, Georgia, in the city of Lithonia. It houses countless outreach programs and community-empowering projects all orchestrated by Long.

Long's ministry reaches far beyond his mega-congregation. He is a leader among the fast growing throng of popular televangelists with skyrocketing mega-churches and traveling religious shows. His church has ministry outreach programs for drug addicts and prisoners and has started its own credit union. Bishop Long's ministry outreach has taken him to religious revivals as far away as New Zealand and Kenya. He has also attracted an abundance of young black single professionals who attend his services. He has started a school, a fitness center, and built a sanctuary to meet the needs of his fast growing congregation.

Long works tirelessly for charitable and civic causes and faces socioeconomic issues. He challenges the underprivileged by enlightening them with educational and life-changing opportunities that are intended to strengthen them spiritually and help them gain their independence. He says in his book Taking Over, "we're not just a church, we're an international corporation. We're not just a bumbling bunch of preachers who can't talk and all we're doing is baptizing babies. I deal with the White House and the British Prime Minister, Tony Blair."

Long deals with heads of state around the world. Close association with the political elite earned him an invitation to have breakfast with President George W. Bush and some of the nation's best-known and most influential black clergy to craft a new role for U.S. churches in Africa. Reverend T D. Jakes, Donnie Mc Klurkin, Andrew Young, and Bishop Charles E. Blake were among more than two dozen religious leaders who met with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and other senior White House officials.

Chronology

1953
Born in Charlotte, North Carolina
1976
Receives B.S. from North Carolina Central University
1987
Becomes pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church
1991
Constructs a 3,700-seat sanctuary
1999
Constructs a Family Life Center
2001
Constructs a 10,000-seat complex
2005
Maintains over 25,000 members in the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church

Bishop Long's ministry is not without controversy, however. This was amplified after he voiced his opposition to the debated issue of same-sex marriage. He along with Reverend Bernice King, daughter of the Martin Luther King Jr., led a march promoting an array of causes among which the divisive issue of same-sex marriage was central.

Honors and Awards

Honored worldwide, Bishop Long has been named one of America's 125 most influential leaders. He has received numerous awards in recognition for his world-changing ministry. In 1999, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta awarded him the prestigious Legacy Award. Long began serving as co-chair for the "Hosea Feed the Hungry" project in 2001. In 2002, he became a member of the North Carolina Central University Board of Trustees. In 2003, he received the Faith/Community Leadership Award from 100 Black Men of America, the Religious Contemporary Award from IRC's "Portraits of Sweet Success," the Champion Award for Spiritual Enlightenment from "All Children Are Special, Inc.," and he was selected by Savoy Magazine as one of the Most Influential Leaders in Black America. In 2004, Long and New Birth's Television Production team were awarded an Emmy for The Face of Homelessness. In 2005, he was honored at the Trumpet Awards for leadership, dedication, and service around the world. He is the vice-chair of the Morehouse School of Religion board of directors; he is affiliated with the Traditional Values Coalition in Washington, D.C.; and he has served as area moderator of the American Baptist Churches of the South. He is founder and CEO of Faith Academy, New Birth's school of excellence. He has a daily radio program in Atlanta, Los Angeles, Miami, and London, England.

Long broadcasts his message in 172 countries; doing so has earned him numerous awards for excellence in broadcasting, including the New York Festival's Silver World Medal and the World Media Festival's Intermedia Golden Globe. Long and his church received worldwide attention when the funeral of Coretta Scott King was held there in February 2006.

Bishop Long and his wife Vanessa have four children: Eric, Edward, Jared, and Taylor. The couple has also served as surrogate parents for many other children in the church and the surrounding Atlanta community.

REFERENCES

Books

LaBalle, Candace. "Eddie L. Long." In Contemporary Black Biography. Vol. 29. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale, 2002.

Periodicals

Blake, John. "Bishop's Charity Generous to Bishop." Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 28 August 2005.

Moorer, Talise D. "Giant Bash Celebrates Life of Bishop Eddie Long." New York Amsterdam News, 15 May 2003.

                                       Oral Moses

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