Every moment of the 48 years that Pastor Harold A. Carter Sr. spent preaching to, and adoring, the people of the New Shiloh Baptist Church in Baltimore was engagingly returned to him in abundance by thousands of mourners who came out in a torrential rain storm on June 9 to say goodbye and “we love you” to a man who was considered by many one of the greatest preachers in America.
Nearly every type of person, including the politically powerful and the potently poor filled the sanctuary of the church as tributes were given by people whose lives had been touched by Pastor Carter. Among them was Kweisi Mfume, a former member of the United States Congress who was influenced by Pastor Carter to join the church and later become a member of a 200-voice choir that sang during Pastor Carter’s final service.
“Pastor Carter helped to change my life,” said Mfume, who before becoming the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, was a member of street life in Baltimore. “He helped me to see things from a spiritual perspective. I fell heir to his life and his legacy.”
Rep. Elijah Cummings, a close friend of Pastor Carter’s for more than 25 years, greeted Pastor Carter’s family prior to the service that began at 11 a.m. and concluded just moments before 4 p.m. “He was a remarkable individual whose work touched so many people,” said Cummings. “He devoted his life to serving God, and to those who God loved. It was a blessing to have known him.”
Gov. Martin O’Malley said he admired Pastor Carter for his commitment to his faith and his abundant works. “He built not only a church, but a home for senior citizens,” O’Malley said. “He was a man who believed in the cross. He sought the deeper things of God. He gave his life to changing Baltimore,” he said as Sen. Ben Cardin, former Sen. Paul Sarbanes and Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown nodded their heads in agreement.
Some of the country’s must influential faith leaders such as the Reverends Charles Booth, H. Beecher Hicks, John Bryant, Walter S. Thomas, Charles Adams and Alfred Vaughn paid tribute to Pastor Carter. One by one they stood in the pulpit where he had stood and revealed how he had impacted their lives.
“I loved him as a father,” said Rev. Booth. “A royal prince has fallen.”
Bishop Thomas said “Pastor Carter caused me to fall in love with Jesus.”
Rev. Vaughn added that his friend of 55 years lived a “life graced by God with the gift of giving.”
Sherry Hunt, perhaps one of the finest singers Baltimore has ever produced, having studied under Pastor Carter’s late brother, Nathan, at Morgan State University, sang “May the work I’ve done speak for me,” in tribute to her pastor as the church erupted in joyous praise, with only those unable to stand not on their feet.
Howard Lyles, who was chosen by Pastor Carter to head New Shiloh’s daily 6 a.m. prayer service in 1990, said he felt as if he had lost a brother. “He gave us everything that he had,” said Lyles. “We will never be the same.”
Lyles’ sentiments were echoed by Deacon Calvin Phillips, perhaps one of Pastor Carter’s closest and longest friends in the New Shiloh congregation. “His passing has not hit me yet,” said Phillips. “I am still waiting for him to walk through the doors of the church.”
The eulogy was preached by the Rev. Harold Carter Jr., who spoke of his father’s last days and final breaths. “ ‘It’s okay,’ I said to my father while witnessing him in pain. Daddy, we will all join you in heaven one day,” he said as the church roared its approval.
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