NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, former Georgia Gov. Roy Barnes and DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond, along with Trumpet Awards founder Xernona Clayton and numerous clergymen, are among the very full roster of speakers scheduled to give tributes at today's homegoing service for Bishop Eddie Long.
The longtime senior pastor at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church died at 63 after battling cancer. His service begins at 10:30 a.m. today and will likely last for hours, if the lengthy funeral program, provided to the AJC by the church is any guide. See pages from the program, below.
NEW THIS MORNING:
A resolution honoring Long was approved Tuesday in the Georgia Senate.
Senate Resolution 43, sponsored by state Sen. Tonya Anderson, D-Lithonia, calls Long “a person of magnanimous strengths with an unimpeachable reputation for integrity, intelligence, confidence, and kindness, and by the example he made of his life, he made this world a better place in which to live.”
Global United Fellowship’s Bishop Neil C. Ellis of Nassau, The Bahamas will deliver the eulogy this morning.
Bishop Dale Bronner, senior pastor of Word of Faith Family Worship Cathedral, is among the many scheduled to speak. In a recent interview with the AJC, he said he knew Long had been very ill but held out hope.
"I knew he was dealing with pancreatic cancer, which is an aggressive form of cancer," he said. "We were praying for a miracle."
Bronner said the rapid impact of the condition was noticeable but Long never dwelled on it.
"He made no reference to the fact he was dying," he said. "His faith was fully charged. He had seen God heal others. There was such a positive outlook."
In fact, Long had asked Bronner about participation in upcoming events.
"He was still making plans for the future as if he would live forever," he said. "He just wanted to get back. There was no sense of death. His faith was strong."
Bronner said that although pancreatic "is a tremendously rapidly form of cancer," its quick impact "could be a blessing and a burden."
"I'm glad he didn't deteriorate over two years," he said.
His friend's passing underscores how fleeting and precious life is, he said.
"It reinforces all our human vulnerabilities," he said. "We are delivered from 'destination disease.' Learn to live each moment passionately. I've learned to have joy in the journey. Tomorrow is not promised to any of us."
Here are pages from the funeral program: