D.K. Foreman – Personal Blog

Leadership

Controversial megachurch pastor Eddie Long dies at 63

by on Jan.15, 2017, under 2017 Year, Leadership

(CNN) — Bishop Eddie Long, the controversial leader of one of the nation’s largest megachurches, has died, according to the suburban Atlanta church he presided over. He was 63.

Long died after a battle with an aggressive form of cancer, according to a statement by the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church.

Long was a national figure and one of the most innovative and polarizing pastors in the contemporary church. He was also a paradox.

He was a preacher who led an infamous march against same-sex marriage and denounced homosexuality, but he also settled a lawsuit by four young men who said he pressured them into sexual relationships.

He was a man who wore tight muscle shirts and radiated self-confidence but used to throw up before sermons because he was so nervous.

President George Bush hugs Bishop Eddie Long during Coretta Scott King’s 2006 funeral.

He was a man who gave away cars and paid the college tuition of needy people, but he also was investigated by Congress after a charity he created had provided him with a million-dollar home and a Bentley luxury car.

“When he spoke, black people all over the country listened to him,” said Shayne Lee, a sociologist who studies the black Pentecostal church. “He was part of the repackaging of Christianity for post-civil rights African-Americans.”

Long’s wife, who stood by him through his rise and fall from national fame, released a statement.

“Although his transition leaves a void for those of us who loved him dearly, we can celebrate and be happy for him, knowing he’s at peace,” Vanessa Long said.

Bishop Eddie Lee Long

Rise and fall

At its peak New Birth Missionary Baptist Church had about 25,000 members. The church was such a glamorous Sunday stop it became dubbed “Club New Birth.”

But to limit Long’s impact to the black church understates his influence.

He spoke before Congress, visited President Clinton in the White House and became a popular figure in white Pentecostal circles. His church hosted Coretta Scott King’s funeral service in 2006.

Though Long dressed like a middle-aged hip-hop star, he once said the figure who led him to his greatest religious awakening was Jimmy Swaggart, the charismatic white pastor.

But it was Long’s ministry to young men that first marked his rise. At a time when the traditional church had trouble attracting young men, Long called himself a “spiritual daddy” to wayward teenagers. He played basketball and lifted weights with his male ministers.

Long’s relationship with his own father, though, was far from ideal. His father, Floyd Long, was a stern Baptist minister who was known as “the cussing preacher” because of his pugnaciousness. Long said in one interview that his father was distant and didn’t attend his football games or even his high school and seminary graduation.

“My daddy pulled back when it came to touching you and saying, ‘I love,’ ” Long said. “I needed that so badly.”

It was Long’s relationship to men, though, that virtually destroyed his ministry. In 2010, he and his church reached an out-of-court settlement in a lawsuit filed by four young men who accused him of pressuring them into sexual relationships while they were members of his congregation. The terms of the settlement were not disclosed.

Long, who preached passionately against homosexuality for years, denied the allegations.

In 2011, Vanessa Long filed for divorce. Shortly afterward, Long told his followers he was taking some time off to work on his marriage.

“I do want you to know that this is, for me and my family, especially with me, one of the most difficult times and things I’ve had to face, and only because my strength, other than God, is in Miss Vanessa,” he said at the time.

“And I want you to rest assured that I love her and she loves me. … In all the things that I’ve ever had to deal with and being pastor, my rock has been to be able to come home to a virtuous woman who always had peace in my house… We’re going (to) work it out.” he said.

More controversy

The couple later reconciled, but Long’s ministry never recovered from the accusations. Membership at New Birth plummeted.

“It was a fall from grace,” Lee, the sociologist, told CNN. “He had a national reach. He lost that reach with that scandal.”

Bishop Eddie Long, left, speaks to Rev. Bernice King, daughter of Coretta Scott King, during a service at the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia, on Feb. 7, 2006. Photo courtesy of Retuers/Ric Feld

The lawsuit was not the first time that public controversy swirled around Long. In 2005, the Atlanta Journal Constitution revealed that a charity Long had created to help the needy had made him its biggest beneficiary.

The charity’s compensation to Long included a $1.4 million, six-bedroom, nine-bath home on 20 acres and more than $1 million in salary. Long defended the charity at the time.

“We’re not just a church, we’re an international corporation,” Long said at the time. “We’re not just a bumbling bunch of preachers who can’t talk and all we’re doing is baptizing babies. I deal with the White House. I deal with Tony Blair. I deal with presidents around this world. I pastor a multimillion-dollar congregation.

“You’ve got to put me on a different scale than the little black preacher sitting over there that’s supposed to be just getting by because the people are suffering.”

Despite his public setbacks, Long retained a loyal following to the end.

In recent months, rumors swirled about Long’s health after he lost a dramatic amount of weight and appeared frail in public. But even as his once-stocky frame withered, he continued to go before his church to ask for prayers and to claim victory.

Long Just before his death in 2016

On New Year’s Eve at his church, an emaciated Long addressed his congregation, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution.

“God ain’t through with me and sometimes you need to see the skinny Eddie and the big Eddie and all that,” he said, his once-powerful voice reduced to a raspy whisper. “It ain’t got nothing to do with physical appearance, it’s what in your heart … You are a Scripture … I want to see you struggle, I want to see you fight the devil and get victory.”

Long is survived by his wife, four children and three grandchildren, the church said.

CNN’s Alex Medeiros also contributed to this story.

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Ben Carson Just Announced His Role In Trump Admin, Obama’s Legacy Is Gone

by on Nov.10, 2016, under 2016 Year, African-American Community, Leadership

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Dr. Ben Carson has become one of the most liked individuals in the Republican party. He’s insanely smart, well-tempered, and is certainly someone America respects in regards to healthcare.

Dr. Carson has just indicated that he will be helping President Trump craft a replacement for Obamacare, which has been one of the cornerstones and promises of Trump’s presidential campaign.

From Politico: Ben Carson says he’s still ironing out his role in the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump, but one thing’s certain: He’ll have a role in helping craft the replacement plan for Obamacare.

“I think the replacement obviously must come first and it must be something that is very appealing and easy to understand. And then, only then, would you dismantle what’s in place,” the retired neurosurgeon said in an interview.

Asked if he intends to be involved in designing that plan, Carson said, “Yes, of course.”

Carson, who ran against Trump in the Republican presidential primary, burst onto the national scene in 2013 when he rebuked Barack Obama’s health care law at the National Prayer breakfast, while the president sat a few feet away. He declined to say whether he was in line for a Cabinet role such as secretary of health and human services, or a broader advisory role.

There’s no other person in America more qualified to know what works and what doesn’t than Dr. Ben Carson. Rest assured, whatever he comes up with will be the best solution possible.

FINALLY, we have someone who has spent their life in healthcare that will be crafting policies and solutions that will actually work for America.

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In Memoriam: Jan Crouch (1938 – 2016)

by on May.31, 2016, under 2016 Year, Leadership

TBN Co-Founder Jan Crouch (1938-2016)

TBN Co-Founder Jan Crouch (1938-2016)

Jan Crouch, a co-founder of Trinity Broadcasting Network and popular televangelist, has died following a stroke, her son announced Tuesday via a posting on his and his wife’s website. She was 78.

“Laurie and I have just watched the transition of our precious mother from this world to the next; watched her step into the presence of Jesus and into her heavenly reward,” Matt and Laurie Crouch said in a statement.

“Jan Crouch, known around the world as Momma Jan, has gone home.”

Crouch and her late husband, Paul, founded Trinity Broadcasting Network, now known as TBN, in 1973 and watched it grow to become the world’s largest and most successful religious broadcasting network.

Born Janice Bethany in Columbus, Georgia, she was the daughter of Edgar and Laurie Bethany. Her father was a preacher and official in the Assemblies of God denomination.

She would meet her future husband through a church event.

In a 2007 TBN newsletter, Paul Crouch recalled seeing her at a camp meeting in Rapid City, South Dakota, where her father was preaching.

“Heads turned (especially the boys) as a slight, beautiful angel seemed more to glide than walk toward the front of the auditorium,” Crouch wrote. “Head down — timid it seemed to me — yet the bright red dress contrasted with the retiring, even shy, demeanor of this stunning young lady!”

Crouch was thrilled to learn the young woman with which he was smitten was scheduled to start classes in the fall at Evangel College, an Assemblies of God liberal arts school, in his hometown of Springfield, Missouri. After she invited him to hear her sing at a youth event, the pair began dating and married in August 1957.

What followed was the birth of their sons, Paul Jr. and Matthew, and the blossoming of their ministry from a single station to a multimillion-dollar business empire.

The couple were a popular fixture on their show “Praise the Lord.”

“Janice Crouch, called ‘Mama’ on the air, is known for her pink-tinged wigs, which look like huge swirls of cotton candy, and for talking emotionally about the Lord’s blessings,” Erik Eckholm wrote in a 2012 piece for The New York Times. “Mr. Crouch, or ‘Papa,’ is relentlessly upbeat as he quotes flurries of Bible verses on signature programs like ‘Praise the Lord.’ ”

Paul Crouch Sr. died in 2013. In Tuesday’s statement, her family wrote, “She has taken a piece of our hearts with her, but it’s so wonderful to know that Paul and Jan Crouch are together again, in the arms of Jesus.”

But TBN was not without controversy.

The New York Times article documented a family fight that highlighted the lavish lifestyle of the Crouches, including matching multimillion-dollar homes in a gated community in Newport, California.

In 2015, Courthouse News Service noted that various members of the Crouch family have sued each other over the years.

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In Memoriam: Evangelist Denise Katrina Matthews (1959-2016)

by on Feb.16, 2016, under 2016 Year, African-American Community, Leadership, World News

NEW YORK — Denise Matthews, the singer, model, and actress known as Vanity who toured with Prince in the 1980s before eschewing her wild persona for a life as a minister, died Monday in Fremont, Calif.. She was 57.

Vanity in the 1980's

Vanity in the 1980’s

Ms. Matthews’s sister Renay Matthews confirmed her death. She said Ms. Matthews had checked into a hospital Saturday night after years of health problems related to her kidneys.

Denise Katrina Matthews was born on Jan. 4, 1959, the daughter of Helga Senyk and James Levia Matthews, and grew up in Niagara Falls, Ontario. She worked as a model in Canada before moving to the United States.

She met Prince at the American Music Awards in 1980, and the two soon became romantically involved. He also invited her to be a part of Vanity 6, the funky, erotically charged girl group that had a hit in 1982 with “Nasty Girl” and toured with Prince. She appeared on the cover of Rolling Stone with Prince, in a portrait shot by Richard Avedon, with her hands creeping down the front of his pants.

Prince and Vanity in 1982

Prince and Vanity in 1983

Ms. Matthews was supposed to play the female lead role in “Purple Rain,” the semiautobiographical Prince film that was a box-office hit in 1984, but she abandoned the project before filming began. She went on to release two albums as a solo artist on Motown, “Wild Animal” and “Skin on Skin.”

She thrived on raciness, often performing in lingerie. “My music is very sexual, so you could say I’m just putting all of me out there,” she told the Associated Press in 1985. She was on the cover of Playboy in 1988.

As an actress, she appeared on television and in films including “The Last Dragon,” “Never Too Young to Die,” “Action Jackson,” and “52 Pick-Up.”

By her own later admission, Ms. Matthews led a fast life, and it took its toll. In an interview with Jet magazine in 1993, she said she had been “extremely wild” in her younger days.

“There was a lot of cocaine,” she said. “I tried men, women, everything. I didn’t snort cocaine, I smoked it.”

Denise "Vanity" Matthews Pictured Center with fellow band mates Brenda Bennett on left and Susan Moonsie on right in the former girl group Vanity 6

Denise “Vanity” Matthews Pictured Center with fellow band mates Brenda Bennett on left and Susan Moonsie on right in the former girl group Vanity 6

She told Jet that drug use had nearly killed her: She had had renal failure a few years earlier and was told by doctors that she had only three days to live.

After that experience, her life took a religious turn. She left the name Vanity behind and became a Christian evangelist.

Evangelist Denise Matthews

Evangelist Denise Matthews


“All I had become was thus painted on my face — vanity,” she later wrote on a personal website.

From Vanity to Denise the Evangelist

From Vanity to Denise the Evangelist

According to her sister, Ms. Matthews eventually became an ordained minister and preached in churches around the country. She published an autobiography in 1999, “Blame It on Vanity.”

In the mid-1990s, Ms. Matthews was briefly married to the professional football player Anthony Wayne Smith, who was sentenced to life in prison for murder last month.

Her and I used to love each other deeply. She loved me for the artist I was; I loved her for the artist she was trying to be.’ – Prince

Prince, onstage in Melbourne, speaking about his former tour-mate
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As news of her death spread Monday during the Grammy Awards, many musicians expressed their condolences on social media.

“Vanity was everything to me,” wrote the drummer for The Roots, Ahmir Thompson, better known as Questlove.

The rapper MC Hammer said he had been in church with Ms. Matthews on Saturday. “Vanity left church after giving a beautiful testimony,” he wrote.

Onstage in Melbourne on Tuesday, Prince offered a tribute of his own. “Her and I used to love each other deeply,” he told the crowd, according to Australian news media accounts. “She loved me for the artist I was; I loved her for the artist she was trying to be.”

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