2017 saw the passing of many Christian leaders and figures. Some of them were controversial, others were more widely acclaimed.
Largely centered on the United States, this list of people sometimes made history, sometimes made headlines, and sometimes influenced many within the Church.
Here are 10 notable Christians who died this year. They include a disgraced cardinal, a controversial megachurch pastor, a distinguished pro-life activist, and a respected theologian.
Eddie Long – Jan. 15
Bishop Eddie Long, head of one of the largest megachurches in the U.S., died following a battle with cancer that was initially kept secret. He was 63 years old.
As lead pastor of the Georgia-based New Birth Missionary Baptist Church, which boasted approximately 25,000 members, Long was outspoken on several social and spiritual issues.
He also garnered controversy on various issues, including multiple accusations of sexually molesting young men in 2010 and the abrupt closure of New Birth’s academy in late 2011.
Long’s New Birth Church was also one of six ministries investigated by U.S. Senator Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, former ranking member of the Committee on Finance. At the conclusion of Grassley’s investigation in January 2011, he noted that New Birth was uncooperative with the probe into financial accountability among major religious organizations.
Norma McCorvey – Feb. 18
Norma McCorvey, the plaintiff for the divisive 1973 decision Roe v. Wade who later became a staunch pro-life activist, died at age 69.
McCorvey served as the plaintiff for the landmark decision, in which the U.S. Supreme Court effectively legalized abortion in nearly all circumstances.
Years after the decision, McCorvey became a born again Christian and spent the rest of her life campaigning to have Roe overturned.
“I long for the day that justice will be done and the burden from all of these deaths will be removed from my shoulders,” said McCorvey in 2003.
Anna Hayford – March 8
Anna Hayford, wife of former senior pastor Jack Hayford of The Church on the Way, died from pancreatic cancer at age 83.
Alongside her husband, Anna pastored at the California-based Church on the Way for over 30 years, seeing the congregation grow to approximately 10,000 members.
“Anna, who is a strong woman in her faith, was gracious and hospitable, and loved and admired by everyone,” stated the church.
“Often referred to as a gentle strength alongside her husband, she was a formidable leader in her own right with a ministry that touched the lives of thousands.”
SOURCE: Michael Gryboski