The Reverend Harold Alfonzo Carter was a divine, Godly prophet, whose life was sparkling and momentous in the pulpit. While the senior pastor at the New Shiloh Baptist Church in Baltimore, he invited acclaimed giants in the ministry such as Gardner Taylor, E.V. Hill, E.K. Bailey, John Bryant, A.C.D.Vaughn and William Jones to share his pulpit.
All of them were great preachers and pastors, but none matched the majesty of Harold Carter, the eldest son of a southern theologian, whose visionary ministry touched the lives of every preacher of consequence in Baltimore during the past forty years.
Harold Carter came to Baltimore in 1965 to lead the congregation of the New Shiloh Baptist Church. He had excelled as a student in Alabama and Boston and was confronted with his first urban ministry. He built one of the strongest ministries in the nation. Central to the growth of his church was a daily 6 a.m. prayer hour that began in 1990 and has continued each morning until the present without interruption.
He quickly became friends with members of the clergy such as Alfred Vaughn, William Rivers, Vernon Dobson, Sidney Daniels, Damien Nalepa, Montague Bracket and Frank L. Williams. They formed alliances and together began a life’s journey that changed Baltimore and the country.
Rev. Carter began a Sunday night radio ministry that reached hundreds of thousands of people each week in the eastern part of the United States. His preaching reminded many of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He befriended some of the country’s leading evangelists and became a foundational part of the Promise Keepers, a Christian men’s movement started by a famous former college football coach.
Rev. Carter had a “mountaintop vision” and urged those who were his members to do great things with their lives. He began to preach in packed baseball stadiums, on national television and held revivals in venues that some thought only a professional sports team could fill. The book The Prayer Tradition of Black People became required reading in many of the nation’s seminaries.
Those of us who were blessed to be his members were awed in his presence, and grew as young men and women witnessing his wisdom and his Christian example. Hundreds were encouraged to follow him into the ministry and many attempted to emulate his style. Few were successful. God made one Harold Carter.
Over the decades we seldom thought that the day would come when he would leave us. Now that it has arrived we are prepared because Harold Carter prepared us for its arrival. “God is,” he often reminded us. “We are all here for a moment to do the best we can for others,” he was fond of saying.
That is how Harold Carter, our pastor and our friend, lived his life. That is how Harold Carter, a prince of a preacher, will be remembered for decades and centuries to come.
Joseph Green-Bishop, a publisher author, and Rev. Larry A. McMillan, an educator and motivational speaker, were licensed under Dr. Carter’s ministry. Nearly 200 men and women answered the call to preach while serving under Dr. Carter’s leadership.
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