"I am confidant through my belief in God that my husband is now resting in a better place," said Long's wife, Vanessa, reports KSDK. "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."
Perceived as a pioneering leader by some, Long was highly regarded for his vision, boldness and unapologetic courage to walk in the supernatural. At New Birth, he was called the "father of many" -- a pastor who loves God, God's people, and who speaks life and declares, "You shall NOT die but live to proclaim the goodness of the Lord!"
In September 2016, Long released a statement that said he was recovering from a "health challenge" in response to reports that he was hospitalized. The church released a statement that said Long was not in the hospital, and quoted a statement from Long: "I am recovering from a health challenge that I trust God to deliver me from. It is unrelated to the eating for life diet consisting of mostly raw vegetables that I am continuing, as part of a holistic approach to good health. At this time, my family and I are requesting that you respect our privacy. I truly appreciate your prayers and support for me, my loved ones and my beloved New Birth Church Family."
Long was born May 12, 1953, in Huntersville, NC. In 1987, he became the pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church which, at the time, had approximately 300 members. The church's current membership now totals more than 25,000.
"God is still raising you up to set the captives free, subdue nations and affect the culture!" Long was fond of saying.
In 2010, Long was accused of coercion by four male members of his congregation. The men, now in their 20s, filed separate civil lawsuits. They each told similar stories of Long approaching them in their early teens, indoctrinating them as spiritual sons and offering them money, cars and trips to exotic locations. When these men turned 17 or 18 years old, they said their relationships with Long turned sexual. The lawsuits were eventually settled, reports CNN.
In 2011, Vanessa Long filed for divorce from Eddie. Shortly afterward, Long told his followers he was taking some time off to work on his marriage."I do want you to know that this is, for me and my family, especially with me, one of the most difficult times and things I've had to face, and only because my strength, other than God, is in Miss Vanessa," he said at the time."And I want you to rest assured that I love her and she loves me. ... In all the things that I've ever had to deal with and being pastor, my rock has been to be able to come home to a virtuous woman who always had peace in my house... We're going (to) work it out." he said.
The couple later reconciled.
Long delivered his final sermon to the church earlier this month. Besides his wife, Long is survived by four children and three grandchildren.