DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. - Friends and family of Bishop Eddie Long are preparing to say their final goodbyes.
Tears and shock flooded New Birth Missionary Baptist Church this weekend as news of Long’s death was announced.
"He would talk with you and laugh with you, without a collar on he was a human being first," friend Dr. Collette Gunby of Green Pastures Christian Ministries in Decatur told Channel 2’s Audrey Washington.
Gunby was a close friend of Long and said her heart broke, when she learned her dear friend passed.
New Birth officials said Long died from an aggressive form of cancer.
FACTS ABOUT EDDIE LONG:
- Bishop Eddie Long was born in Huntersville, North Carolina in 1953
- Long received a bachelor's degree in business administration from North Carolina Central University
- He later studied theology and became minister of a small church in Jonesboro
- In 1987, Le became senior pastor of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia
Just a few months ago, he told his Lithonia congregation he was on a vegan diet, but that he had also battled with a health challenge.
"I just wanted to know if he would be OK," Gunby said.
Long once said the hardest time during his leadership was when he faced sex abuse allegations.
On Monday, Washington spoke by phone with one his accusers, Spencer Legrande.
He said in a joint statement with the other accusers: "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.
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"We're all brothers in this. Our perspectives will be addressed in our book, Foursaken, which we hope to release soon."
Settlements were reached in the lawsuits. Long denied the allegations.
"Some of us fail. All of us fail at some point in our lives. But we can also get back up," Gunby said.
Home-going services for Long are expected to be held on Jan. 25 at 11 a.m.
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