BALTIMORE–The Rev. Dr. Ouida Harding’s gift has made room for her in a distinct way; she recently became the first ordained minister of music and worship in Baltimore. She’s been a musician for 54 years and has spent the last four at Greater Harvest Baptist Church,1617 W. Saratoga Street , the pastor of which, the Rev. Erroll Gilliard, coordinated her ordination, Sept. 30, raising the bar for those called in that area.
The ordination is seen as a tool to create a partnership between church pastor and church musician.
“There has previously been so much strife in that relationship,” Rev. Gilliard said.
“This office is for those who can work alongside the pastor in affecting worship and bring a different nuance.”
He said Rev. Harding excelled in her final exam and would have easily received a grade of 98 or 99 if a grade were given.
“It’s really a pass-fail exam, but she was questioned, as any ministerial candidate, on the articles of faith, the tenets of the church, her own faith experience and her knowledge of the scriptures,” her pastor said. “And then we interjected the element of music and her preparation for ministry as a partner and not an employee.”
Rev. Harding said her first teacher was her mother, when asked about her education.
“Our parents made sure we had the best education possible,” she said. “I went to City College, the Interdenominational Theological Seminary and the Robert Webber Institute for Worship Studies in Orange Park, Florida.”
She went on to say that she’s a PK or preacher’s kid for those who don’t know, so she’s experienced the ongoing church battle close up and personal on many levels.
“As a minister of music and worship, my job is to work alongside the pastor and help create a worshipful atmosphere,” she said.
“The minister hears the pastor, discerns what God is saying, and is able to speak to the pastor about what they receive what they hear from the Lord.”
As a pioneer in this area, she and Rev. Gilliard will set an example of how it can be done.
The Rev. John Lunn, pastor of Berean Baptist Church and president of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Baltimore and Vicinity, served as her catechizer.
Members of the council that reviewed her candidacy included the Rev. Dr. Samuel Ray, pastor of Morning Star Baptist Church, who said he “wished he’d done this years ago in his own ministry; the Right Rev. Reginald Kennedy, pastor of Gospel Tabernacle Baptist Church; the Rev. Tyrone Thomas, pastor of Charity Community Church; the Rev. Clarence Fowler, assistant pastor of Morning Star Baptist Church and the Rev. Dr. A.C.D. Vaughn, pastor of Sharon Baptist Church, and past president of the Baptist Ministers Conference of Baltimore and Vicinity.
For those who have a similar calling, Rev. Gilliard said New York Theological Seminary is going to set up a satellite minister of music program at Greater Harvest.