Michael Edward Long was welcomed home, into the arms of his Jesus, Thursday, January 7, 2021. In his own words, this is not a goodbye, just a see you later! Born May 17, 1955 in Riverside, California, he spent a few formative years in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, with the remainder of his childhood in Eaton Rapids, Michigan. Aside from his years at Asbury Theological College and Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky, he lived his life in the great state of Michigan.
Mike is survived by his loving wife of 20 years, Jeanie Long, his sisters Patricia (Don) Gilbert and Kathryn (Ken) Burger. His amazing children, Jennifer (David) Bellairs; Jessica (John) Lemyre; Benjamin (Kathryn) Long and Alison (Jay) Long. His caring stepchildren, Stacy (Chris) Remy; Veronica Watson; Jayson (Yu-Ting) Adler and Stacey (Adam) Holtcamp along with 20 uniquely wonderful, loving grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents Richard and Ellen Long.
Mike earned a Master of Divinity and a Master of Business Administration. Among the many churches he pastored or assisted in are First UMC of Eaton Rapids, Grawn UMC, Somerset Center UMC, Rosebush UMC, Clare UMC, Geneva Hope UMC, Grand Traverse House of Prayer, Traverse Bay UMC, Peninsula Bible Church of Traverse City, Central UMC (The Corner) in Muskegon and Twin Lake UMC. One of the quotes he used often was from Mark Twain; “It ain’t the parts of the Bible that I can’t understand that bother me, it’s the parts that I do understand.”
Throughout all his life, whether serving as a pastor, or filling in some other needed role, his heart was to serve others while becoming the literal hands and feet of Jesus, to a world that was hurting around him. His most beloved passions were family and serving Jesus. He loved filling up spaces with music – particularly if it was around a campfire. From family nights gathered round a fire, singing songs softly in the night – to getting 300+ kids worked up into a “Father Abraham” frenzy at Creative Arts Camp – a life of music and service were where things really made sense for him.
Mike’s God given talent for music was spurred on by the memory of his own father, whose musical legacy has carried on through every subsequent generation. While guitar and piano were his favorites, Mike could play just about any instrument he picked up and was almost always singing. He often wished he could be everywhere at once, in order to run the sound equipment, direct, play the instruments, while singing both melody and harmony at the same time. He was so excited when he got to attend a Phil Keaggy concert and then got to meet and talk with him after. Music was an all-encompassing life passion.
Mike also had great talent for computers, mechanics, electronics, and woodworking. He loved his never-ending projects, building things, and taking things apart. He was known to say that he knew enough about some things to be dangerous, and if he didn’t already know, he would learn. He would call himself a Jack of all Trades; Master of None.
Pastor Mike exhibited a larger-than-life self, with a peaceful spirit and demeanor. He became the calm in a storm to many who took their hurts to him for expression in a safe space. His love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness faithfulness, and self-control were emulated in his very act of living a life of service to The One who called him home. He will be missed greatly here on Earth, but he is celebrated even more now in Heavens eternity.
The family will honor the life of Mike in a very small private ceremony at this time. We look forward to gathering with all of his friends and family to celebrate his life in the future when it is safe to do so, ideally just before what would have been his 66th birthday the weekend of May 15, 2021. In the meantime, feel free to share a memory with the family at www.sytsemafh.com. Memorials in memory of Mike may be directed to his family to help with funeral expenses. Arrangements by The Sytsema Chapel of Sytsema Funeral & Cremation Services, 737 E. Apple Ave., Muskegon, MI 49442.