by Tim Darnell , WXIA
LITHONIA, Ga – Stephen A. Davis is taking over as pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church.
Davis was announced as the successor to Bishop Eddie Long, who died Jan. 15, 2017, after a battle with cancer at the age of 63.
Long’s widow made the announcement to the congregation during Sunday morning services.
Davis begins his tenure immediately.
Davis formerly was senior pastor, president and board chairman of New Birth Birmingham, in Birmingham, Al. Davis has had direct ties with Long since 2006.
“My wife, Darlene and I, are blessed beyond measure and thoroughly thrilled to serve New Birth Lithonia, building on the foundation that Bishop Long established for this amazing ministry,” he said.
Davis will continue leading New Birth Birmingham.
In September 2016, Long released a statement that said he was recovering from a “health challenge” in response to reports that he had been recently hospitalized.
Long was born May 12, 1953, in Huntersville, NC. In 1987, he became the pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church which, at the time, had around 300 members. The church’s current membership now totals more than 25,000.
In 2010, Long was accused of coercion by four male members of his congregation. The men, now in their 20s, filed separate civil lawsuits.
They each told similar stories of Long approaching them in their early teens, indoctrinating them as spiritual sons and offering them money, cars and trips to exotic locations. When all young men turned 17 or 18, they said their relationships with Bishop Long turned sexual.
The lawsuits were eventually settled.
Long delivered his final sermon to the church earlier this month.