ASH GROVE, MO [DOM Communications] – The Kansas City Deanery of the Diocese of the Midwest recently honored one of the most beloved clergymen in the Diocese, Archpriest Moses Berry by donating an icon of St. Moses the Black to the three main theological seminaries of the Orthodox Church in America; St. Herman’s Seminary, St. Tikhon’s Seminary, and St. Vladimir’s.
“The deanery clergy wanted a tangible way to honor the sacrificial ministry of Fr Moses throughout the years in Ash Grove, the Kansas City Deanery, the Diocese of the Midwest, and all of Orthodoxy in America,” stated Archpriest Timothy Sawchak, Dean of the Kansas City Deanery. “His humility has been a constant source of peace and calm in a tumultuous world to his brother clergy and his flock.”
Fr Moses lives with his wife, Magdalena, in Ash Grove, Missouri, a small town in the Ozarks, on the farm his great-grandfather built in 1871. According to his biography, the Berrys, an African American family, are notable in Southwest Missouri for owning and living on the same property for over 135 years. This includes a family cemetery that was 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 has also accomplished substantial work on Christianity in Africa. He is a contributor to An Unbroken Circle: Linking Ancient African Christianity to the African American Experience, considered a ground-breaking collection of essays. Fr Moses is also the co-founder of the annual Afro-American and Ancient Christianity Conference sponsored by the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black. He travels regularly, giving lectures locally and nationally on African American history and on issues in African American spirituality and Orthodox Christian mission. In addition to being the subject of numerous articles, Fr Moses has appeared on “Good Morning America” and on the National Geographic channel.
A dedicated priest and servant to God’s people, Fr Moses established a community in honor of the Mother of God, “Unexpected Joy.” It 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.
Priest Joel Wilson, Priest-in-charge of Annunciation of the Virgin Mary Mission in St. James, MO reflected on the meaningful mentorship that Fr. Moses has had in the life of his family; “Our family has been able to go to confession with Fr. Moses for the last several years. One thing we’ve noticed is his rare ability to balance silence with speaking, providing just the right “space” for repentance. As a priest myself, it’s difficult not to be too lenient or too strict, too quiet or too talkative when hearing confession. So to confess to a more experienced priest who is able to strike that balance so beautifully is a real gift.”
When asked about a favorite memory of Fr Moses, Fr Timothy replied, “I can’t say I have one particular memory that sticks out. But I am always amazed at how many people he knows throughout the world of Orthodoxy, whether it be a Patriarch, a Bishop, a priest, or a deacon. It’s obvious that he has made a mark on the Orthodox Church locally and throughout the world.”