By Victor Ochieng
Sunday turned into a sad day for members of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church after it was reported that their pastor, Bishop Eddie Long had passed on following his long struggle with cancer. After his death was announced, the four men, all in their mid-to-late 20s, who had earlier accused the pastor of coercing them into s*xual relationships, spoke out about his legacy.
“We’ve been hearing from people from all walks of life — the media, celebrities, gospel singers — wanting to hear what we think,” said Spencer LeGrande, one of the four men who filed suit against Long in 2010. All four men are former members of Long’s New Birth Missionary Baptist Church.
LeGrande, who currently resides in Charlotte where he runs a thriving sneaker cleaning business, and two other plaintiffs in the case, Maurice Robinson and Anthony Flagg, told The AJC Sunday that they’ll speak out when the time is right.
“As much as we’d like to make a statement about the passing of Bishop Eddie Long, we’ve all decided to remain silent, for now,” read a joint response to AJC by the gentlemen. They said the fourth plaintiff, Jamal Parris, gave his consent for the statement.
“We’re all brothers in this,” said LeGrande. And in conclusion, their statement read: “Our perspectives will be addressed in our book, Foursaken, which we hope to release soon.” According to LeGrande, they haven’t found a publisher for their book. He also disclosed that the book will focus on their lives after cutting ties with the controversial bishop. Long strongly rubbished the allegations leveled against him by the men.
In his service to the church as a pastor and Bishop, Long earned national status, coming forth as one of the country’s most innovative pastors. He was also among the most polarizing figures in contemporary gospel. Ironically, Long led a strong push and march against homos*xuality and same-s*x marriage, yet he ended up settling the lawsuit filed by his four accusers.
Not so many people were aware, but Long would often become so nervous ahead of his sermons that he would throw up. It was difficult to know because he portrayed a totally different picture in front of his congregation. He was the type who often wore tight muscle shirts and exuded confidence whenever he was delivering a sermon. In fact, it’s his charisma and creativity that saw him build quite a strong ministry.
When Long started losing weight as a result of his ailment, he released a video telling his church members that his sudden weight loss was nothing but a case of a new diet he’d introduced into his life, insisting that there was nothing to worry about. Not so many people bought that as he was looking badly emaciated. He died aged 63.
May his soul rest in peace.