This service was especially for Bishop Eddie Long and his New Birth Missionary Baptist Church as they celebrate Long’s 24 years in ministry. Though two of Long’s accusers, Jamal Parris and Spencer LeGrande spoke out in the news just days ago, Bishop Eddie Long was determined to go forth despite the distractions.
The choir comes forth and sings “Hosanna, We Worship You”. We notice the choir stand was more full than usual as they wore white shirts under black vests that were branded with the New Birth emblem on the left side of their chest.
One of our staff members who was a former New Birth member, saw a faithful woman in the choir who is blind but has been singing there for many, many years. Despite the trouble in his church, she still comes and serves in the choir.
As the song goes on, the congregation is jumping, cheering and shouting to the music like its the NFL Superbowl.
A video tribute is played in honor of Bishop Long and his service as a minister for the past 24 years. The narrator of the video praises the work of Bishop Long mentioning how he started preaching in 1987 at Travelers Rest Baptist Church on 2778 Snapfinger Road in Decatur, Ga. Bishop Long started with only 300 members. Some of us remember when he’d have people sitting on the floors and there were chairs in the aisles because his church was growing so quickly.
The announcer goes on to state Bishop Long’s many published books over the years namely, “Called to Conquer”, “God’s Leading Lady” and “60 Seconds to Greatness.”
Bishop Long’s tribute includes all of the assistance he has provided to other countries like food for Haiti and building New Birth Academy (though sexual scandal stemmed out of his school). There was a boastful sound to be heard in the announcer’s voice when she stated the famous event at New Birth when the family of Martin Luther King came to agreement to have his wife, Coretta Scott King’s funeral there. This event included four United States presidents: Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and both George Bush and George W. Bush. The announcer failed to mention that it took many, many talks with opposing family members to agree to this. The controversy was Bishop Long’s stance against gay marriage and Coretta King’s belief in civil rights for gays.
The regular announcer steps up after the video tribute and states: “Those who rule over us, should not lack for anything”, as he gets the church to get their gifts and tithes ready to pass forward. He reminds them that Bishop Long ‘has serviced well and they should sow well.” While looking in the camera, to summon those watching the broadcast to wave their gifts too, the choir or “Worship and Arts” team begin to sing, “Thank You, I Bless Your Name.”
Bishop Long takes the stand and says he won’t say much but that he wants to pray for those who are impacted by Hurricane Irene on the East coast. Now he’s ready to hear his ‘daddy’ speak, calling Bishop TD Jakes- “The Greatest Man of this Hour.”
Bishop TD Jakes says 24 years in ministry is a long time and that you get more than just mountains that show how much you have achieved but that there were many valleys to overcome. He says anyone can stand through the mountains but the hard times are getting through the valleys.
“Tell Hell ‘I made it’.”
The congregation is in tuned to Jakes as he says: “You better behave because you all look like you’re going to set it off in here”. This was the cue for one lady to come running down the middle aisle and start shouting and cutting steps along with many who followed for the “praise break”.
Bishop Jakes tells a story about how he taught a workshop over 20 years ago of 40 people in attendance. He met a man that kept crying and hugging him and after receiving the man’s business card, he found out it was Bishop Long. While Bishop Long was building his church and was rumored to have “acres of folks”, Jakes had not but a fraction of his members and just releasing his 2nd Manpower conference. He decided to keep in touch with him.
Turning to the scripture from Psalm 23: ” The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures…,”Bishop Jakes’ sermon- “The Power of Downtime” is the subject.
He preaches about letting God into our lives; reminding us that if we let Him in, He will mess up our plans. He’s making a point to say that our plan is not God’s plan for our lives. He says God reveals himself to us in many ways. Some of us see Him as a healer, others see him as a Father and someone else may see Him as provider.
As he goes on, Bishop Jakes states we are all very busy people and we never take a rest but when God is ready, He will lie us down in green pastures so we can hear from him, pray to Him and be redirected in His plan. He says God wants us to stop everything and He make us rest.
The downtime, as he preaches, is to strengthen us again.
Bishop Long comes and stands behind the Jakes like a faithful soldier. Jakes calls more people to the altar than we have ever seen Bishop Long do. It was interesting to see nearly 60 people or more, come and stand at the altar for deliverance. We saw how the ushers were not allowing anyone to go to the side door as they usually do but making them stand near the altar. Bishop Long usually gives a short announcement for altar call and repeats “Come, Come” as they are greeted and led to the side door into a room. But Bishop Jakes took time to encourage many people to come forward and then he prayed for them. Bishop Long’s tradition at New Birth is not to pray for the newcomers but send them to a room. Former members will tell you that is exactly what they experienced and there was a classroom available where they are given information and told, “This is a big church and we have big bills”.
We are not sure what will result of this event, but it is very clear that his past indiscretions that are now public, are not going away anytime soon.