What 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.