The Rev. Dr. Harold A. Carter Jr. greets prayer ministry leader, Deacon Howard Lyles after closing prayer. (Photo by PND Photography)
It has been said that New Shiloh Baptist Church has always been a praying church, and to attest to that fact, the church is celebrating its 25th year of ongoing 6 a.m. prayer on March 31.
“Early morning prayer has had broad impact over its 25 year history. It has given the church a daily means of worship whereby Sunday no longer has to be the sole or only day for worship,” said the Rev. Dr. Harold A. Carter Jr., New Shiloh’s pastor. “It has afforded any number of attendees to grow spiritually ever appreciating the reality of prayer in their lives and the lives of others who attend. Praise reports/testimonies have been a constant result of its effectiveness,” Rev. Carter said, adding that “Great relationships have also developed as prayer partners and or prayer groups, or cells have emerged.”
When The Rev. Dr. Harold A. Carter Sr. became the church’s third pastor in 1965, he brought with him an appreciation for prayer and over the years incorporated that appreciation into the evolving vision for the church, according to the current pastor, his son. Such services and opportunities for prayer were maintained or initiated like: the traditional Wednesday evening prayer meeting service, a monthly Prayer Breakfast, a weekly Friday Noon prayer service, the idea and implementation of the Sacred Prayer Urn and the senior Rev. Carter’s seminal book, “The Prayer Tradition of Black People.”
(Photo by Daryl Medley)
When the new church building was constructed, the late Rev. Carter ministered in Seoul, Korea for the Baptist World Alliance and shared at Yoido Full Gospel Church (Assemblies of God) with Pastor David Youni Cho. That church, during its height in the 1980’s had what was known as Prayer Mountain, as well as Prayer Cells that met each morning, all over Seoul. There were more than 800,000 members involved at one point. Without a doubt, given the senior Rev. Carter’s belief and interest in prayer and even his being known by some of his colleagues as “Dr. Quick Prayer” that the daily Prayer Mountain movement helped to influence New Shiloh’s daily Early Morning Prayer Service.
Deacon Howard Lyles, a retired warden of the Maryland Penitentiary and an active member of New Shiloh has been leader of the Prayer Ministry since its inception. He drives 24 miles one way from his home every day to attend the Early Morning Prayer.
“There is a void in my life if I don’t make it to early morning prayer,” Deacon Lyles said.
The Prayer Ministry team members are known as prayer warriors and work closely with Deacon Lyles at 6 a.m. prayer. New Shiloh members and people from all walks of life can be seen any morning in the Harold A. Carter Chapel, 365 days of the year on their knees or sitting in the pews praying, seeking communication with God. There have been as many as 300 or more on special occasions and never fewer than 25 can be seen every day.
Today, many churches locally and nationally have incorporated the same prayer discipline into their ministries. The format may vary according to their individuality, but the concept/vision can be attributed to their being inspired by New Shiloh Baptist Church.
The longevity of New Shiloh’s 25 years of early morning prayer coincides with the congregation’s march from its former location at Fremont Avenue and Lanvale Street to its present site on the corner of Monroe Street and Clifton Avenue. Rev. Carter said, “It would be hard to find another such ministry or movement, locally that can attest to 25 years of daily prayer without exception of at least “2 or 3 gathered together, touching and agreeing in Jesus’ name,” regardless of holiday or weather.