Bishop Eddie Long | Megachurch had modest beginning

Bishop Eddie Long | Megachurch had modest beginning

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The entryway of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church at 6400 Woodrow Rd in Lithonia.

When Eddie Long became pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in 1987, it had about 300 members.

Today the Lithonia congregation is 100 times as large, with a 240-acre campus, syndicated TV shows, an array of community programs and ministries, and satellite churches in other cities.

Born in North Carolina, Long, 57, worked as a manager at Ford Motor Co., then Honeywell, before pursuing the ministry. He got a Master's of Divinity degree from Atlanta's Interdenominational Theological Center in 1986.

The Christian magazine Charisma once described Long as on a mission "to reform our culture according to biblical standards. And he is not afraid to get in anyone's face to do it."

Long has crusaded against homosexuals and led a 2004 march against gay marriage.

The following year, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that a charity Long created -- Bishop Eddie Long Ministries Inc. -- made him its biggest beneficiary, supplying him with at least $1 million in salary over four years, a $1.4 million home and use of a $350,000 Bentley.

Long defended the compensation.

"We're not just a church, we're an international corporation," he told the AJC then. "We're not just a bumbling bunch of preachers who can't talk and all we're doing is baptizing babies. I deal with the White House. I deal with Tony Blair. I deal with presidents around this world. I pastor a multimillion-dollar congregation.

"You've got to put me on a different scale than the little black preacher sitting over there that's supposed to be just getting by because the people are suffering."

In 2006, Long was chosen by the family of Martin Luther King Jr. to officiate Coretta Scott King's funeral.

Long's first marriage ended in divorce, and he has used that experience as a way to connect with church members.

"I [use] my own personal struggles, what I'm going through, what I'm dealing with, what I've been through," he told Charisma magazine. "And so it immediately started getting folks to identify with me."

Long married the former Vanessa Griffin in 1990. They have four children.

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