After periodic absences from the pulpit during 2016, a very thin and sometimes frail-looking Bishop Eddie L. Long attended several services during the holiday period.
Long told church members during a New Year's Eve Watch Night service that around this time last year he introduced them to a "baldhead Eddie" while this year he was introducing them to the "quick, fast and in a hurry Eddie."
Long, wearing a Santa hat, also shared Christmas services with his son, Elder Edward Long and photos of the two were later posted on social media . "Christmas tag team ministry with my son @IAmEDwardLong #CHRISTmas Day at @newbirthmbc #ProudDad," one post read.
Long disclosed several months ago that he was dealing with a health crisis and asked for privacy. His physical appearance caused concern and speculation among churchgoers and the public. At the time, he attributed his look to a mostly raw vegan diet.
Recently, a video of Bishop Eddie Long during a church service, appear to show him needing assistance initially moving about.
The senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia has never disclosed the nature of his illness.
A New Birth spokeswoman did not offer a comment beyond Long’s initial statement last year about his health.
"I've been on a journey and just recalibrating myself," Long said in an October video, which was posted on YouTube on by Miz Justice. "And like I said, I had some health issues and God has healed me. The manifestation is coming through and we stand in that."
During a New Year’s Eve service last week, he told the congregation that God is already working in their favor. “What you been praying about is already manifested,” he said.
He mentioned several times that the devil wanted him to stay at home and not come to church that night.
The devil, he said, asked him “why you going to church? You need to rest. You’re in recovery. I said, let me tell you something. I said if I was going for my ego, I’d lay here. If I was going trying to prove something, I’d lay here. I said God ain’t through with me and sometimes you need to see the skinny Eddie and the big Eddie and all that. It ain’t got nothing to do with physical appearance, it’s what in your heart…You are a Scripture… I want to see you struggle I want to see you fight the devil and get victory.”
He reminded the congregation that there were more folks with them than against them.
Long also recalled a time he had “preachers running away from me. Now they’re running towards me. They were running away from me because of mess. They’re running towards me because they say now if God can keep him, teach me how to stand.”
Long, senior pastor, of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, was sued by in 2010 by Anthony Flagg, Spencer LeGrande, Jamal Parris and Maurice Robinson, who alleged the bishop used his influence, trips, gifts and jobs to coerce them into sexual relations.
In 2011, the case was settled, then dismissed.