Article By Daniel Hawkins // EEW Magazine Ministry News
It has only been two weeks since Bishop Eddie L. Long, the flamboyant megachurch pastor whose reputation was tarnished after former male congregants accused him of sexual misconduct, died after a battle with cancer at 63.
But already, New Birth Missionary Baptist has appointed Long’s successor, Stephen A Davis, whom First Lady Vanessa Long calls “a son of our Bishop.”
“While we’ve lost a great leader in Bishop Long, he would want us to move on, move forward, keep doing the ministry that he’s asked us to do, and progressing the Kingdom of God,” said the widowed 57-year-old, who revealed that her late husband put together his succession plan on Nov. 12, 2013.
“Let me tell you about his successor. He has his heart in every way. He is a son of our Bishop,” said Long, who wed the deceased leader in 1990. She filed for divorce in 2011 when the scandal broke, but called it off in 2012 and decided to stay.
“He has been faithful to Bishop throughout their relationship,” she continued, noting that Davis already pastors two Alabama-based New Birth ministries—one in Birmingham and the other in Tuscaloosa. He has been linked with Long since 2006.
Once the congregation was aware that Davis would be taking over, the large sanctuary erupted with loud cheers and heavy applause.
“Wow! I feel like I don’t need to say anything about this,” Long said smiling after surveying the crowd’s overwhelmingly positive response.
The newly elevated preacher said, “My wife, Darlene and I, are blessed beyond measure and thoroughly thrilled to serve New Birth Lithonia, building on the foundation that Bishop Long established for this amazing ministry,” reports Atlanta Alive News channel 11.
Long couldn’t say enough good things about him.
“One of the things that I truly love about our new pastor is that he loves family. Family means everything to him,” said the poised speaker as she heaped praise on the southern preacher.
Davis has been married for over 27 years and shares three children with his wife Darlene, who each serve and support the ministry in some capacity.
Before his passing sent shockwaves throughout the faith community, Bishop Long had been the senior pastor since 1987 at New Birth Missionary Baptist, a 10,000-seat church in Lithonia, a suburb of Atlanta.
The church said it grew from 300 members to more than 25,000 under his leadership, operating television and international ministries and building satellite churches in several cities, including Miami, Denver and Charlotte, N.C.
Bishop Long was born on May 12, 1953, in Huntersville, N.C. He is survived by his wife, Vanessa Long; four children, Eric, Edward, Jared and Taylor; and three grandchildren.