Priest Who Brought Many African Americans to Orthodoxy has Passed Away (Fr. Moses Berry)

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In the United States, at the age of 74, Archpriest Moses Berry, a clergyman of the Orthodox Church in America, rector of the Church of the Icon of the Mother of God “Unexpected Joy” in the city of Ash Grove (Missouri) and the creator of the Museum of African-American Heritage in the Ozarks (Missouri) reposed. Over the years of his ministry, Father Moses helped hundreds of African Americans come to the Orthodox faith.

The priest died on January 12, 2024 in hospice, where he was taken after several months that he had previously spent in the hospital, according to the website of the Orthodox Church in America.

Father Moses Berry (before baptism - Carl Berry) was born in 1950 in the city of Lockwood (Missouri, USA) into an African-American family.

In his youth he traveled widely around the country and lived in different parts of it. However, after problems with the law, the future priest turned to faith and joined an interdenominational Christian community, where he later met his future wife Magdalena (they got married in 1983 and were married for more than 40 years).


Over time, many members of this community became interested in the Orthodox faith, incl. Carl Berry and his wife. As a result, the couple came to Orthodoxy, in particular, Karl was baptized with the name Moses, and later he was ordained to the priesthood.

After a period of ministry in various cities in the United States, where he became a confessor for many believers, Father Moses returned to Ash Grove in 1998, where he had inherited a farm dating back to the end of the Civil War. The priest gave part of this land for the construction of a church in honor of the icon of the Mother of God “Unexpected Joy”; here he also created the Museum of African-American Heritage of the Ozark Region.

It is noted that an important part of the ministry of Archpriest Moses Berry was the introduction of African Americans to Orthodoxy. To this end, he became one of the founders of the Brotherhood of Saint Moses the Black – organizations in support of African Americans in the Orthodox Church. For decades, Father Moses led the annual conference of this brotherhood.

“Father Moses was instrumental in helping hundreds of African Americans who were interested in Orthodoxy but worried about inclusion feel more comfortable in pursuing their faith,” the message emphasized.

On January 16, Archpriest Moses Berry was buried at Resurrection Cemetery in Ash Grove, next to the graves of his ancestors. This cemetery was founded in 1875 to bury enslaved Africans, Indians, and paupers. Today the cemetery has the status of a cultural heritage monument.

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