Musician finds new inspiration Priest: Switching from a career in rock, Jim Ball has gone to seminary and been ordained pTC and is now pastor of a new church in Westminster.

May 31, 1998|By Brenda J. Buote | Brenda J. Buote,SUN STAFF

Jim Ball, once a prominent Baltimore rock musician, has traded in his guitar for a chalice.

Ball, 41, was ordained this month and is pastor of the Holy Apostles Charismatic Episcopal Church in Westminster. The small church recently opened its doors in the Carroll Plaza Shopping Center on Englar Road.

The priesthood was a dramatic career change for Ball, who a decade ago won MTV's "Basement Tapes" competition -- for the best amateur video -- by the largest margin in the show's history.

An earlier generation of college students will remember Ball as a popular figure on the local music scene. In the mid-1980s and early 1990s, Ball's band -- The Suits -- performed regularly at area colleges and the Marble Bar, an alternative-music hot spot in downtown Baltimore.

The Suits were on the road to a recording contract following their MTV success when Ball was converted. He left the band about five years ago and, after much soul-searching, joined the Charismatic Episcopal Church.

Formed in 1992 by evangelical Pentecostals and Charismatics, the church has grown and has ministries on all continents.

"In some ways, I just sort of fell into it," Ball said of the priesthood. "I was raised Catholic, but for 20 years I stayed away from the church. I didn't believe in God. Then I met a Pentecostal gospel singer. That was the turning point for me."

He began attending Pentecostal services, trying to "put the pieces together, to find meaning in God's word."

Ball found that he liked the Pentecostal church, with its emphasis on spiritual healing, but wanted also to focus strongly on the sacraments.

"For a while, I was going to a Pentecostal service every Sunday morning, and a Catholic Mass every Sunday afternoon," Ball said. "Then my spiritual adviser pointed out this church to me."

He has attended Charismatic Episcopal services ever since.

Ball gave up his band and sold the recording and film business that he owned for many years with his brother, John. The company, Flip Side Sound and Film, was known in the broadcast business for its image campaigns. One of the company's compositions, the opening theme for Fox 45's "News at Ten," is still being used.

Ball entered St. Michael's Seminary, a Charismatic Episcopal institution in Libertytown in Frederick County, in January 1995 and was ordained a deacon in January 1996. During that time, he served at the denomination's Church of the Good Shepherd in Columbia.

Ball was ordained May 16 by Bishop Philip Zampino of the Mid-Atlantic Diocese of the International Communion of the Charismatic Episcopal Church.

He still plays guitar and loves performing -- but only in church.

The 1,100-square-foot Holy Apostles church is in converted office space on the second floor of Carroll Plaza. Within its eggshell-colored walls, as many as 50 people can hear the word of the Lord and listen to contemporary gospel ballads, often performed by their pastor.

Sunday services begin at 10 a.m. The church held its first service six weeks ago with 22 parishioners. It has grown to nearly 40.

As for the future, Ball said he will take each day as it comes. His dream is to "continue growing. Perhaps move to a permanent location."

Pub Date: 5/31/98

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