Fr. Moses Berry
Fr. Moses Berry, a priest of the Orthodox Church in America, lives with his wife, Magdalena, in Ash Grove, Missouri, a small town in the Ozarks, on the farm his great-grandfather built in 1871.
Because they are an African American family, the Berrys are notable in Southwest Missouri for owning and living on the same property for over 135 years. Fr. Moses has restored a family cemetery established in 1875 and dedicated to “Slaves, Indians and Paupers.” This cemetery is now on the Greene County Register of Historic Sites and the National Register as well. Fr. Moses is also curator of the Ozarks Afro-American Heritage Museum,. After 10 years in a small storefront, the museum collection is now available on line at http://oaahm.omeka.net. It has an extensive collection of photographs and artifacts of rural Afro-American life in the surrounding areas, preserved by the Berrys and other families over many years.
Fr. Moses is a contributor to An Unbroken Circle: Linking Ancient African Christianity to the African American Experience; co-founder of the annual Afro-American and Ancient Christianity Conferences sponsored by the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black and is in demand locally as a speaker on African American history, and nationally on issues in African American spirituality and Orthodox Christian mission. He has appeared on “Good Morning America” and on the National Geographic channel.
Fr. Moses’ parish, Theotokos “Unexpected Joy” Mission, stands close to an enormous sycamore tree--the same tree that Fr. Moses’ ancestors used as a shelter for church picnics and other celebrations for over a century.
Artwork by Nathan A. Jacobs