Bishop Eddie Long, the controversial Georgia-based head of one of America’s largest megachurches, has died, according to the church he presided over. He was 63.
Long died after a battle with an aggressive form of cancer, according to a statement by the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church.
“Bishop Long was known as one of the most influential faith leaders in the world,” the church said in the statement. “He stood strong as a Kingdom Builder, pioneering leader, and revolutionary mind changer.”
“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,” his wife Vanessa Long said in the statement.
At its peak New Birth Missionary Baptist Church had about 25,000 members.
But Long had a controversial past. In 2010, he and his church settled a lawsuit filed by four young men who accused him of pressuring them into sexual relationships while they were teenagers and members of his congregation.
Long, who preached passionately against homosexuality for years, denied the allegations.
In 2011, Vanessa Long filed for divorce. Shortly afterward, Long told his followers he was taking some time off to work on his marriage.
The couple later reconciled.