Rod Dreher

Rod Dreher

Father Moses Berry and black Orthodoxy

posted by Rod Dreher

frmoses.jpgWhat an unexpected surprise to find in this morning’s NYT a story about Father Moses Berry, an African-American priest of the Orthodox church, who not only pastors a small Orthodox parish in his Missouri hometown, but also runs a tiny museum dedicated to the black history of the village, which is now virtually all-white. Excerpt:

By founding a black history museum here, cleaning up his family’s cemetery and telling his family’s sometimes controversial story, beginning with its roots in slavery, Father Moses, as everyone calls him — an African-American, Orthodox Christian priest in a flowing black cassock — has tried to remind people of a part of the region’s often-forgotten past, and to open up hearts and minds along the way.
“He brings peace to people. I’ve seen it,” said Gail Emrie, 56, a local history buff who helped get the Berry family’s 135-year-old cemetery — one of the region’s few black cemeteries not located on a plantation — listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. “It is reconciliation, and it is his mission, reconciliation of our history between the races.”
And Ms. Emrie went on, “Every little town down here could use” an Ozarks Afro-American Heritage Museum, which Father Moses opened in 2002.

Father Moses is part of a national, pan-Orthodox group called the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black, a ministry that focuses in part on the African roots of Orthodoxy.

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posted January 31, 2010 at 8:32 pm

Interesting story, of an interesting person.
It was also an interesting conversion story, with just enough information in the Times as well as in the web site of the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black to make you want to ask for more information.
While little is written about all the details, what is presented is that he converted “to” instead of “from”. There is often a world of difference between those who do and those who don’t.
Father Moses is one on an admittedly short list of African-American Orthodox priests in the US current and past. However, when you consider the number of Orthodox in this country, how in the beginning it was mostly to serve those who came to this country in their native language, that there was an African-American Orthodox priest in the US over a hundred years ago is also surprising.
I do wonder if he came to Orthodoxy through the St. John Coltrane African Orthodox Church.
Thanks for providing the link.

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Richard Barrett

posted February 11, 2010 at 4:01 pm

Don’t believe it was the Coltrane group, but rather the Holy Order of MANNS folks. I could be wrong.

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matheau moore

posted February 14, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Whether it was MANS or Coltraine or Arianism or Docetism or Manachesism as the Blessed Augustine of Hippo, also an African, it is irrelevant where one came from in this context. We are here, and we are now, and we are all one body and it is a wonderful thing to see that there is a possibility of reconciliation between races and elasticities, and that it has indeed happened in reality in the Ozarks. Glory to God!

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