Our Pastors

Rev. Olu Harding &
Essie Harding

Rev. Olu Harding

Rev. Harding is an ordained elder and a member of the Upper New York Conference, and an affiliate member of California Pacific Conference of the United Methodist Church.

 

Rev. Harding earned a Bachelor’s degree in economics from Fourah Bay College, Sierra Leone (affiliate of Durham University, United Kingdom; a Masters degree in International Relations and Public Administration from the University of Maryland; and a Masters degree in Divinity from Boston University.

 

He received his call to the ordained ministry, while serving as the Ambassador of Sierra Leone to the Soviet Union (Russia) with accreditation to Poland, Czech and Slovak Republics, East Germany, Hungary and Romania.  Prior to that he served as Sierra Leone’s High Commissioner to Nigeria with accreditation to Ghana, Benin Republic, Togo, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, and Egypt.  

 

His strong Christian background enabled him to make a smooth transition from his diplomatic career to his religious vocation. In his role as pastor, he served on various Boards and organizations of the United Methodist church, including, the Wyoming Conference Board of Ordained Ministry, the General Commission on Christian Unity and Inter-religious Concerns, National Council of Churches, World Assembly.   

Essie Harding

With her parents’ blessings, at the age of 17, Essie Harding left her country of birth to pursue high education. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology, a Masters degree in Social Work, and a Juris Doctor from Howard University School of Law where she was the Lead Articles Editor of the Howard Law Journal. She is a member of the District of Columbia Bar, the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, and the US Supreme Court. Essie practiced law in the Washington DC area for over 20 years.

 

For the first six years of her legal career, she served as an attorney with the Interstate Commerce Commission in Washington, DC, representing the Federal Government in the US Courts of Appeals. She later entered private practice and served the Washington DC community as an Immigration attorney until she joined her husband in Upstate New York.  

 

Essie has served in various ministries in the United Methodist Church, including, leading Worship, preaching, and Bible Study. Among other things, she has served as a Lay Equalization Member to Conference; a Certified Lay Speaker, a Conference Trustee, and as a Board member of Family Services of Oneonta. She has led workshops in the areas of Social Justice, Cultural Diversity, Conflict Resolution, and Religion and Race.

Rev. Olu and Essie are the parents of a combined family of 7 adult children (including 2 sets of twins), and 11 grandchildren. They enjoy travel, trips to the theater, reading, entertaining, and visiting with their children and grandchildren.