Long, Eddie L. 19(?)(?)–
Eddie L. Long 19(?)(?)–
As pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia, Bishop Eddie L. Long has not only taken the small southern church’s congregation from 300 to 25,000, but he has also revolutionized the traditionally conservative role of Christianity in the community. On the complacency that has been a hallmark of modern Christianity, Long unabashedly told Charisma, a noted Christian magazine, “My Bible says [Christians] are the head and not the tail and that if we compromise on anything of God’s, then God won’t bless it. The church has tried to take sides instead of taking over.”
New Birth’s mission, found on its website, is to “use a holistic approach to develop disciples for the Kingdom of God by preaching, teaching and demonstrating God’s Word—both inside and outside the church.” Through outreach programs, internationally syndicated television and radio programs, political activism, and a blend of stunning honesty, fierce commitment, and refreshing boldness, Long and New Birth is doing just that. Charisma wrote, “[Long’s] mission is to reform our culture according to biblical standards. And he is not afraid to get in anyone’s face to do it.”
Eddie Long was raised in Charlotte, South Carolina, one of four boys born to Hattie and Reverend Floyd Long. Despite growing up in an active Christian household, Long first pursued a career in the corporate world, earning a degree in business administration from North Carolina Central University in 1976. However the spiritual world in which he had been raised soon came calling. Despite taking on corporate jobs including managerial stints for the Ford Company in Richmond, Virginia and Honeywell in Atlanta, he began pursuing the ministry. In 1981 he was licensed to minister and a few years later ordained as a pastor at the Morning Star Baptist Church in Atlanta. At Atlanta’s Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC), he earned a Masters of Divinity degree in 1986. He has since earned two honorary doctorates both in 1998 from North Carolina Central University and Beulah Heights Bible College, where he has taught courses. He was made a Bishop in 1994 by the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship. Both his business training and his spiritual training have been factors in the phenomenal successes he has achieved as a religious leader, though he is quick to point out that this success truly belongs to God. “God had to teach me and grow me. As I’m growing, the congregation is growing,” he told New Birth News, the ministry’s monthly magazine.
In July of 1987 Long assumed pastorship of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia, then just 300 members strong. Within a year, membership increased to over 2,000. By 2001 the congregation had exploded with over 25,000 registered parishioners. In 1999 the church moved to spacious new facilities to accommodate the phenomenal growth.
Members are drawn by Long’s charismatic style and honest approach. “I’m the type of guy that’s just going to tell it—I’m going to say it like it is,” he told Charisma, “… I [use] myself as the example. I [use] my own personal struggles, what I’m going through, what I’m dealing with, what I’ve been through. And so it immediately started getting folks to identify with me.” For example, he has not been shy about sharing the fact that his first marriage ended in divorce. He readily acknowledges that life does not always fall neatly into Christian doctrine. “I will be the first to tell my congregation that I am not perfect. I do and will continue to make mistakes,” he wrote on the church’s website.
Long is currently happily married to Vanessa Long. She is an active member of New Birth and heads “Heart to Heart” a women’s ministry program. They have three sons, Eric, Edward, and Jared and one daughter, Taylor. He also readily admits to his own family’s humanity, troubles and all. “I get sick of pastors who get up and introduce their wives as if they sleep on a cloud every night. It presents an unrealistic picture to the majority of the congregation.”
DeKalb County, Georgia, home to New Birth, is located in the nation’s third wealthiest black county. Despite close proximity to the crime-ridden public housing complexes and drug-ravaged inner city slums of Atlanta, DeKalb County is relatively peaceful, comfortably middle-class, and upwardly mobile. New Birth could easily settle within those same adjectives, but to do so would defy their very mission. Instead Long has instituted a mind-boggling array of community programs all designed to solve social ills through the Word of God. Traditional benevolent programs include counseling services for individuals and couples, recovery programs for substance abusers, prison outreach, senior services, a food bank and shelter services, programs for the deaf, outreach for single mothers, adoption assistance, and health services.
Long is also firmly committed to helping members take control of their lives in practical ways, namely finance. New Birth provides financial counseling and seminars featuring speakers such as mega-millionaire and onetime presidential candidate Steve Forbes. “God wants you to have balance in how you handle your finances,” Long wrote in New Birth News. For Long this precluded the creation of a full service credit union in partnership with other area churches.
Long has also made sure the church’s finances were in order. New Birth has an annual budget of over $20 million with a staff of nearly 100. Bishop Eddie L. Long Ministries, Inc. produces television shows, radio broadcasts, books, CDs, seminars, and much more. As CEO he puts his business acumen into action for the glory of God and New Birth. His skills have allowed the church to embark on an ambitious building program including the acquisition of 240 acres of land, the building of a cathedral that seats 7,700 and includes offices, seminar rooms, a kitchen, and an educational wing; a 5,500-seat family center; and an elementary school building. There are plans for an assisted living center for the elderly, a theater, and a 30,000-seat dome for large gatherings, athletics, and community events.
No where is Long’s commitment to “reform our culture to biblical standards” more evident that in his work with youth. His belief that education is the key to solving the societal ills of poverty, drug abuse, and immorality has been widely documented. His actions attest to this belief. In 1993 New Birth opened Faith Academy, a private Christian school with Long as its CEO. Numerous youth outreach programs have also been established including the highly successful Project Destiny (formerly Project Impact) which helps first-time juvenile offenders turn themselves around and get off the road to prison. There are also ministries for youth of all ages; the New Birth Eagles’ which allows the children to participate in football, soccer, and cheerleading; tutoring programs; GED counseling; college admissions assistance; and a scholarship committee.
Long also attacks problems in education at the source as well. Of local schools he told Crossroads News of South DeKalb County, “the quality of education is not up to par and we want to change that.” He is a regular at local school board meetings and has even carried his message all the way to Washington DC where he is highly respected by many politicians as a powerful religious leader.
Don’t expect Long to play political favorites. “I don’t want us to sell out to either party. I want us to support the man or woman who is really going to stand for righteousness and do what is necessary. I’m not sold on either party,” he told Charisma. This philosophy put him in an awkward position during Georgia’s 2000 congressional elections. He went on record and in the pulpit against incumbent Democrat Cynthia McKinney, who also happens to be the daughter of powerful Georgia politician Billy McKinney. His reasons were simple, he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the Republican newcomer had “a solid foundation with the same issues that concern the Christian community. A few months later, despite the younger McKinney’s victory, the elder McKinney attempted to block $700,000 in public funding for Long’s juvenile program Project Destiny, a move widely believed to be in retaliation for Long’s stance against his daughter.
Led by his unwavering belief in biblical doctrine, Long often ends up in the middle of controversy. In 1997, prompted by the brutal stabbing of a Southwest DeKalb High School student by another student, Long led an assembly at the school. With the nearly 2000-member student body in attendance along with hundreds of
At a Glance…
Born and raised in Charlotte, NC, by Hattie and Reverend Floyd Long; married to Vanessa; children: Eric, Edward, Jared, and Taylor. Education: North Caroline Central University, Bachelor of Science in Business Administration 1976; Interdenominational Theological Center, Atlanta, Masters of Divinity, 1986; Religion: Full Gospel Baptist.
Career: Briefly worked at the Ford Company and Honeywell before entering the ministry; licensed to minister, 1981; ordained as Pastor at Morning Star Baptist Church, Atlanta, 1985; Cedar Springs Baptist Church, Cedartown, Georgia, Pastor, 1985-87; New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, Pastor, 1987-; Faith Academy, Lithonia, GA, CEO; New Birth News, Executive Producer; Project Destiny, CEO; Eddie L long Ministries, Ine, CEO.
Awards: Listed as one of Atlanta’s 125 most influential leaders; Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Metro Atlanta’s Legacy Award, 1999; Academy of Outstanding Leaders Award; Positive Image Award; Honorary Deputy Sheriff’s Award, DeKalb County, GA. Memberships: Morehouse College, Martin Luther King Jr. Board of Preachers, Vice Chair; Traditional Values Coalition, Washington, DC; moderator, American Baptist Churches of the South.
Addresses: Home—Stone Mountain, GA. Office—Hew Birth Missionary Baptist Church, 6400 Woodrow Road, Lithonia, GA, 30038; (770) 696-9600.
members of New Birth, Long turned the public school’s gymnasium into a Christian revival. From the mobile pulpit brought over from New Birth, Long preached, testified, and called upon the students to be saved. Following the assembly, local and national groups including the ACLU decried it as a clear violation of the First Amendment and doctrines governing the separation of church and state. Long was unmoved by the controversy, becoming even more committed to his cause. He was quoted in The New Republic as telling a church rally for students just two weeks after the high school assembly, “The ignorance of religious rights needs to be held up…. Eventually, we’re going to have to force it.” Strong words for a man of God, but totally in keeping with his determination to revitalize Christian culture. His boldness was also fueled by the fact that not a single parent, nor a single student, not even a single teacher complained about the school assembly.
Long’s influence continued to grow as does his national and international profile. He created the Nation of Jesus, an organization for black men committed to promoting family values, taking responsibility, and giving back to the community. It has thousands of members and ministers to even more with regular conferences and seminars, including the annual International Men of War Conference. Created partly in response to the Nation of Islam’s Million Man March and other Islam-based empowerment groups, the Nation of Jesus is not only a vital support group for men, but a pivotal outlet for the advancement of Christianity in this country. One of many ministers who openly opposed participation in the highly touted Million Man March, he wrote on New Birth’s website, “no matter how high or noble the cause and no matter what the cost, we should never, ever compromise our beliefs in Jesus Christ.”
Long also fulfills his godly mission with deft use of media. He has written three popular books and collaborated on the production of Christian hip-hop CDs. The pastor also produces an internationally syndicated television show, Taking Authority. It is carried by BET, ABC, Trinity Broadcasting Network, and Armed Forces Television and is aired in 172 countries. His sermons are broadcasted around the world and on the web. He is highly sought after as a motivational speaker and is a regular at Christian conferences. He was even asked to give the daily invocation in the U.S. House of Representatives in March of 1998. His book titles Called to Conquer and Taking Over, as well as his aggressively titled television show attest to the fact that Eddie Long is a man unafraid to promote his beliefs. He truly believes in the supremacy of the Christian lifestyle in all its facets—from education to nutrition, relationships to finances. His influence will undoubtedly be felt for a long time.
I Don’t Want Delilah, I Need You, 1998.
Taking Over, 1999.
Called to Conquer, 2001.
Atlanta Business Chronicle, March 16, 2001.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, October 22, 2000, pEl; November 1, 2000, p. C8.
Crossroads, (South DeKalb County, Georgia), January 2000.
New Birth News, January 2001; May 2001.
The New Republic, March 30, 1998, p. 11
"Long, Eddie L. 19(?)(?)–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. (February 19, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/long-eddie-l-19
"Long, Eddie L. 19(?)(?)–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Retrieved February 19, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/long-eddie-l-19
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