Megachurch Pastor Jamal Bryant got a rock star’s welcome and an offer of “full support” from the Dekalb County government as he officially took over as the new senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Georgia on Sunday.
Addressing the church’s packed sanctuary, DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond said the gathering at the church to welcome Bryant, whom he called an “anointed, spirit-filled, young new pastor,” showed that the spirit of Bishop Eddie Long was “still alive and well.”
“I offer to you, pastor, the full total support of our county government. New Birth is Dekalb and Dekalb is New Birth. And I commit to you that we will work with the congregation to continue to move forward in the 21st Century,” he said to wild applause. “For those who may have thought that New Birth may have fallen … the devil is a liar!”
Bryant was chosen from a pool of 138 candidates to take the reins of New Birth, which once boasted 25,000 members in its heyday. Membership at the church has since dropped to about 10,000 after Long, the church’s late preacher, was hit in 2010 by a series of sex scandals involving allegations from multiple young men that haunted him until his death in January 2017.
Bishop Stephen A. Davis, who took over leadership of New Birth shortly after Long’s death, resigned from the church in June.
Thomas W. Dortch Jr., an Atlanta businessman and chairman of New Birth’s board, said part of the reason Bryant was chosen was because he had a plan to reduce the church’s $31 million debt.
“He didn’t come in talking off the cuff,” Dortch said. “This is one guy who’s an architect for religion.”
On Sunday as he welcomed Bryant, he told the congregation that their new pastor who had been leading the 10,000-member Empowerment Temple in Baltimore, didn’t come to New Birth because he “needed a job.”
In his remarks on Sunday, Bryant took time to honor Long’s widow, Vanessa, as “the First Lady” as well as his children, including Bishop Long’s eldest child. Elder Edward Long who publicly declared that Bryant was not his choice.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair