1921-2014: The Ordinal, “Bishop Harold Ivory Williams”

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By Rev. Glenda P. Murray-Kelly (aka) g paris

Special to the  New Journal and Guide


July 4th is the day that we in America celebrate our Independence. The weather was very stormy, and for the Mount Calvary Word of Faith Church, Raleigh, NC, church family they had to weather the storm.  The rain is continuously flowing in Raleigh, NC, but the storms do pass over.  It was on July 4th that the legendary renowned gospel recording artist and husband of 10-time Grammy winner Shirley Caesar transitioned from “Earth to Glory.”  Born on April 20, 1921 and transitioned on July 4, 2014.  What better day could a solider in God’s Army to take his final breathe than on Independence Day?  


On July 11th there was a celebration with thousands of people traveling from across America to pay tribute to the legacy of “The Most Reverend Harold Ivory Williams.”  With songs and words of expressions from various family, friends, dignities and invited pulpit officiates, the Bishop’s works spoke for his character.   


He was indeed an humble man.  He was a pianist, preacher, pastor, presider and a patriarch.  His final service was held on July 12th with hundreds of members of the clergy in attendance. The death drew the attention of local, state and national leaders including the Office of the President of the Unites States Barak Obama.  Many flowers, cards and acknowledgments were sent to the church and home of Bishop Williams. He was great friends with the late Rev. F.C. Barnes, whom he consecrated as Bishop.


As one who observed and followed his lecturers, his sermons and his dialogue to congregations, he never bragged about his accomplishments in life.  One would have never known that he himself stopped school at the age of 17 to begin ministry and after 33 years he completed his GED.  He would always encourage young preachers to obtain their education, but yet he had not completed his own.  


He enrolled in Coppin State University receiving a BA Degree and then furthered his education at Howard University receiving a Master of Divinity and Doctorate of Ministry.  He was honored with an honorary doctorate from the Joint College of African-American Pentecostal Bishops. 

Rev. Williams in 1949 received his first pastoral appointment to Mount Calvary Holy Church, Washington, D.C., that merged with Christ is the Answer Chapel, under the leadership of his spiritual son, Alfred Owens.  The church in its present form is considered to be one of leading churches in the Metropolitan area.  They have received national recognition under Bishop Alfred Owens and Co-Pastor Susie Owens. He is currently the Archbishop of the denomination.  


In 1958, Rev. Williams co-founded Mount Calvary Holy Temple in Baltimore, Md. with his mother who had in earlier years founded, The Sacred Heart Baptist Church, Baltimore, Md. where he preached his initial sermon at age 7 and learned how to play his first song on the piano at age 9.  He came from a family of leaders.  


Not much is said about his father Harry Emerson Tribbett, but his mother Rev. Ethel Ada Williams was the first African-American woman ordained in the City of Baltimore, Md.  It was his mother’s influence that led him to the fellowship with the evangelistic team of Bishop Brumfield “Dad” Johnson, founder of Mount Calvary Holy Church of America, Inc., and the organization in which he was appointed the Senior Bishop after the death of Bishop Williams in 1972.    He was known as a premiere musician in Baltimore and on the East Coast.  After the death of his first wife Dr. Amanda Elizabeth Williams, he was left without a companion.   


Bishop Williams stepped into love once again and was married to Evangelist Shirley Caesar in 1983. Evangelist Caesar would always give glory to her husband the Bishop who helped mold and develop her into a Pastor and leading female preacher.  Her husband was an advocate for “Women in Ministry” and made history in 1994 in the consecration of two female Bishops of Mount Calvary Holy Church of America, Inc. 


He lived as a great “Prince” one who ruled with dignity and honor and he was buried as the “Prince” of Raleigh, NC.  Outside of the sanctuary was a horse and cottage to take the funeral remains to the burial ground.  His legacy will live on though the hearts and minds of people he supported and helped.  Even I as a journalist and preacher he acknowledged and wanted to help.   


Among the most impressive words that were expressed at the funeral service were those of A.C.D. Vaughn, Senior Statesman, Hampton University Ministers Conference (HUMC).

“Bishop will never be forgotten, because of his work and that which we did together, we were honored to have him and his wife with us at the HUMC as guest speakers. He would always travel to be with Dr. Harold Carter for the seven last words program and we were great friends.”


In his memory he leaves, his wife of 31 years, Pastor Shirley Caesar Williams; daughter, Elder Hope Ivy Mason; son in law Elder Mac Mason; a daughter in law, Vikki Mason; one grandson Lamarr Mason; a granddaughter; Miya Mason; two brothers-in-laws Julius and Solomon Caesar; seven great-grandchildren; and many sons and daughters of the Mount Calvary Holy Church of America, Inc. 

“I was his heart and I will forever miss and love you daddy” said Elder Hope.

On behalf of the New Journal and Guide Newspaper, our prayers are with you Pastor Caesar and family.

Last modified on Thursday, 17 July 2014 10:29

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