On January 15, 1929, a king was born. His name was in fact, Martin Luther King Jr. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Pastored the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta Georgia. On January 15, 2017, another king died. His name was Eddie Lee Long Sr., Bishop of Atlanta‘s New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. Although he did not bear the name King, there was no doubt that his life was inextricably tied to Martin Luther King Jr’s family.
Dr. King was a southern pastor who helped to move America forward out of the oppressive segregationist period of America’s history as a key figure in the Civil Rights Movement. His struggle was born not only by those in the church or the city in which he pastored, it was born by his family and the many thousands of people who were tired of life as it had been. The days of racial divide had gone one far too long in a land that said it was the land of freedom for all its citizens.
Bishop Long became connected to the King family during his 27-year ministry of pastoring New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. As a pastor in one of the largest African American, Atlanta-based congregations, he was most notably known for leading a movement of men and women who were about a kingdom movement. To that end, there were many messages that were surrounded by references to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. For a brief season, he was the pastor of Dr. King’s daughter Bernice who served the church as a key influencer on the ministry staff. His love for the family made him the ideal choice when the nation was gripped by the loss of Dr. King’s wife Coretta Scott King.
While Dr. King’s legacy continues on through the lives of his children, other family and millions who have believed in the continuation of the pursuit of the dream that Dr. King preached, Bishop Eddie L. Long worked tirelessly his whole ministry to fulfill that dream through serving his congregation, community, city, and the world at large.
Bishop Long was known for sowing into the lives of single mothers through the purchasing of cars who had no transportation. He led the Church in initiatives through blood drive donations, donations for St. Jude’s Children’s Center, Breast Cancer research and more. His heart for children led him to found the New Birth Academy. With the aid of the Nation of Jesus Men’s Ministry, he and the men of New Birth were often found on the campus grounds of local schools praying and ministering during times of trouble and welcoming them to a new school year.
In as much as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Lived a life that was shortened by his fervor to see the fulfillment of the nation become one both with the body of Christ and America as a nation, Bishop Long’s life was shortened by the ravages of a cancer that ate away at him physically and emotionally. There are few who could have sustained the life that they lived without the threat of opposition. King’s opposition was those who believed his message of racial and financial equality and justice was seeking too much. Bishop Long’s opposition thought that his charisma and blessed life was too good to be true and sought to destroy the strength of a man by attacking the strength of his character.
These two kings are worthy to be celebrated and it is for this reason that I choose to remember both. Both have in their own way had an indelible mark on my own life. Although I was born three years after Dr. King was killed, his legacy is one that I strive to remember as one necessary to fulfill and pass on to the next generation. Bishop long came into my life at a time when I was at a spiritual crossroad. What God did through him to help me get to the other side is nothing less than miraculous. I’m forever grateful to both and pray that they each always receive the honor due them.
QUESTION: How will you honor these two kings?
- Honor Martin Luther King, Jr. with events around northeast Ohio (fox8.com)
- 7 Things You Need to Know About Coretta Scott King (yahoo.com)
- Megachurch Pastor Bishop Eddie Long Dies at Age 63 (time.com)