D. Oliver Herbel
FR. MOSES BERRY AND THE ORDER OF ST. MOSES THE BLACK
IN 1972, CARL BERRY TURNED 21 in a state penitentiary, serving time following a police raid in search of drugs. One night, not long into his sentence, the guards dragged out a man from a neighboring holding cell, wrapped a radio in a towel (in order to mask the nature and extent of the abuse) and beat the prisoner until he passed out. Every time the man passed out, one of the guards would urinate in his face to wake him and then they beat him again. Berry was so terrified that he went to the corner of his cell and offered a prayer up to God. According to Berry, it was possibly the most heartfelt prayer he has prayed before or since. He asked God for a miracle – anything – that could spare him a similar fate and pleaded to be let out somehow, in order to escape the beatings that would surely come sooner or later. The following morning, a guard came to his cell, told Berry to get out and dress, informing him that Berry was free to go. At first, Berry thought it was a trick, that he would be beaten and/or killed for supposedly trying to escape. As it turned out, the night before, around the time that Berry was praying, one of his arresting officers came forward and confessed to the illegality of the search of the residence in which Berry had been arrested. The evidence was illegally obtained and Berry was free to go.247
Upon his release, Berry would undergo a religious journey that eventually led to him being ordained in the Orthodox Church as Fr. Moses.248 In this journey, Berry addressed racial concerns in a theological manner with a turn toward tradition, as Morgan had approximately 80 years prior. In Berry's case, however, there are a few unique differences. Berry's racial concerns, as we shall see, were neither about finding a church in which to serve as a black man nor about addressing different responses to the American and Caribbean racial inequalities. Oppression was not his overriding concern. Rather, multiracial and multi-ethnic representation and a desire for an «otherworldly» Christianity guided his journey.
As this chapter will show, Berry's emphasis on otherworldly Christianity was grounded in a restorationist vision, for he had come to believe that early Christian Egypt was important in this regard. He believed that one needed to return to a pre-racist Christianity, as exemplified in the early church's promotion of Egyptian monasticism. This restorationist vision became the means of turning to the Orthodox tradition, because Berry came to perceive the Orthodox Church to be the church that continued in full continuity with early Egyptian Christianity. As such, Eastern Orthodoxy was understood as the Christian tradition itself, thus being able to stand as a response over and against a denominationally and racially fragmented American Christianity, even if members of that very Orthodox Church sometimes exhibited the racial fragmentation of American society. Such a move is certainly an atypical choice in America, given the prevalence of an American anti-traditional tradition. Ironically, however, Berry's journey, like the others discussed in this book, may be seen as continuing an important element of that anti-traditional tradition for he was able to turn to an ongoing tradition only by first living the anti-traditional tradition, including restorationism.
THE FLOWER GARDEN AND OTHERWORLDLY CHRISTIANITY
When Berry was young, his mother told him that all of humanity are like flowers in God's garden.249 This resulted in an ongoing search: «My question over the past years has been, why then haven't I heard about the brown, black, yellow, and red flowers that make up the Church?»250 He felt uprooted, as though wherever he went, there were only certain types of flowers – in A.M.E. parishes or other black churches he would visit, it was one kind. In another parish, it might be a lot of white lilies, but nowhere had he found the garden of which his grandmother spoke. Berry admitted that his life had been rootless in other ways as well, but took a heightened religious form following his experience in prison.
Overwhelmed with the ordeal, Berry went to Hawaii to escape and reflect on what had happened. There, he came to appreciate the writings of George Washington Carver, connecting with Carver's emphasis on the presence of God in nature. Berry's prison experience had led him to believe that even though God transcended our world, he really could be anywhere, even a prison cell. Berry's experience of the natural beauty of Hawaii confirmed in him his desire to find the church that also worshipped and believed in a transcendent God who nonetheless permeates absolutely everything, lifting it up to himself in glory in a new, redemptive light.
At the same time that Berry was looking for a flower garden rather than a vase of one kind of flower, he was seeking an expression of «otherworldly Christianity.» Berry first learned of «otherworldly Christian values» from his grandmother, Mamie, the daughter of the only black member of Missouri's Union Calvary Company D.251 His other grandmother, Dorothy, taught him a similar perspective, informing him: «Don't forget that you are a minority in America, and this is not your world.»252 Berry has even gone so far as to blame many of the contemporary problems faced by African Americans on the failure to understand this. «We took our eye off the genuine prize, which is otherworldly Christianity, and we started focusing on what we could attain in this world.... They told our women that blondes have more fun, and lo and behold, the black woman dyed her hair. How absurd!»253 This emphasis on otherworldliness was the theme of an article published only a year before, where he claimed, «The real "spiritual trouble» began with social integration. I won't say that integration was the downfall of the black man in this country, but it did present a real problem. When we lived in a separate society it was very clear that we were «not of this world.»254 In his conference talk the following year, he reiterated this point.255 Berry has also claimed that the «black church» had been redemptive, but ceased being so when it sold its soul to political causes that arose in the 1960s.256
FINDING THE OTHERWORLDLY FLOWER GARDEN
Initially, Berry joined the Holy Order of MANS (HOOM), a New Religious Movement with Christian, theological overtones, founded by Earl Blighton in the 1960s.257 By the time Berry joined in the mid-1970s, HOOM had become more Christianized, but it still operated as an independent entity. At this stage in his journey, one clearly sees a typical American anti-tradition journey, whereby one does not follow an established tradition but joins a newly created entity in order to forge one’s own religious identity. HOOM's Christianization was expressed precisely as a restorationist movement, as a reestablishment (reincarnation) of important apostolic figures, such as the biblical personalities of the 12 and Mary Magdalene.258 Despite this, HOOM was not destined to remain merely one anti-tradition option among many, as evidenced by the increased attention to Christian teachings. Indeed, starting in the 1970s, HOOM would claim to continue a tradition of Christian teachings.
Berry became involved in HOOM and moved to Detroit in 1974 to study at HOOM's one-year institute known as Christ the Savior Seminary. Although not an accredited seminary or institution of higher learning, the informal school offered a year-long course of study that studied the early Church, the lives of Orthodox saints, and the Bible. He then spent the next several years moving around, which included serving a parish (Christian Community Parish in 1977) in Allston, a Boston suburb, and teaching youth in Harlem at a Protestant Episcopal Church in 1979.259 He also served at a small teen shelter in Atlanta 1980 and then moved to St. Louis to pastor Christ the Good Shepherd, a parish that also subsequently became Orthodox and has now merged with St. Michael the Archangel Orthodox Church.260 In all of this, Berry saw HOOM as offering an ecumenical, nondenominational means of re-engaging in the core values of the Christian tradition, including social outreach and education.
Soon thereafter, HOOM morphed into Christ the Savior Brotherhood by joining the St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood, co-founded by two monks of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia (ROCOR), Fr. (Abbot) Herman (Gleb Podmoshensky) and Fr. Seraphim (Eugene Rose).261 Berry would go on to graduate from Christ the Savior Brotherhood's theological academy, known as the New Valaam Theological Academy (which offered a certificate following a four week summer course) in 1985.262 Abbot Herman directed HOOM to a self-proclaimed bishop, one Metropolitan Pangratios Vrionis, who was actually a deposed Greek Orthodox priest (having been removed from his office due to pedophilia, for which he was convicted in a court of law). In 1988, shortly before Pascha, Pangratios baptized 750 members of HOOM into his «Orthodox» jurisdiction, resulting in the Christ the Savior Brotherhood.263 Those 750 entrants were a culmination, not a beginning, as Berry had been ordained as a priest in Pangratios's jurisdiction in 1987. For Berry, who prioritized an «otherworldly» Christian spirituality, HOOM and Christ the Savior Brotherhood were ideal, because mystery was emphasized and HOOM had structured lay communities across the country intended to be patterned after early Christian monastic communities. Podmoshensky himself advocated and highlighted a Christianity that was not chained to the world, but outside of it, even antagonistic to it, in his correspondence with Berry over the years. When Berry had been within Pangratios's church and a priest for but a year (in 1988), Podmoshensky wrote him a letter in which he spoke positively of the difficulties of living by physical work in a monastic setting on Spruce Island, Alaska.264 A few years later, in 1993, Podmoshensky would go even farther, explicitly claiming, «persecution, rejection, un-acceptance, no Christian love or understanding!! What else is new?... We must be persecuted by the world if you want to be accepted by Christ.»265 Berry's own spiritual father advocated for a kind of Orthodox Christianity that was at odds with the world around it.266 Such an approach helped Berry see himself in line with the Christian tradition in a manner that could still be seen as otherworldly, inasmuch as it was in tension with the world around him.
As a member of Pangratios's self-styled Orthodox jurisdiction, Berry had taken on an Orthodox identity, but this was not an identity he initially desired, for he had been concerned that joining Pangratios's jurisdiction and accepting an Orthodox identity meant giving up on African American spirituality, especially with the two components he so desired to find (the flower garden metaphor fulfilled and an otherworldly Christian spirituality).267 Yet, the experience of visiting a small Orthodox parish overwhelmed him and changed his mind.268
In the winter of 1984, while Herman Podmoshensky and the St. Herman Brotherhood were courting HOOM, Berry visited a small parish mission serving liturgy in a house. The liturgical language and praise pleasantly surprised him and the iconography, which included icons of St. Moses the Black and the Orthodox Chinese martyrs from the Boxer Rebellion, vividly expressed the catholicity of the Orthodox Church. Berry had found the garden for which he yearned in the midst of a liturgical context that included a reference point to early African Christianity and monasticism and which sought to lift the participant into heaven's very own worship itself. The striking, racially accurate iconography struck a cord with Berry, for as he would later claim: «If people don't have images of their racial group as being significant in the history of the Church, it is harder for them to strive within the Church for godliness.»269 More than that, he found iconography «otherworldly,» in particular, the icon of St. Moses the Black, which left him «stunned by its terrible beauty and other-worldliness.»270
Entering into Pangratios Vrionis's Archdiocese of Vasiloupolis (based in Queens, New York), Berry turned to the Orthodox Christian tradition, even if within a group the rest of the Orthodox world considered schismatic. He had found a representation of many races and ethnicities and a Christianity that was not entrapped by «the world,» but expressed through art and music that evoked a feeling of transcendence within him. Moreover, he had entered a tradition, a tradition that preceded Anglocentric expressions of Christianity and so could be found through the restorationist tendencies first nurtured in HOOM. Berry claimed that the tradition of the evangelist Matthew's proselytizing in Africa, Athanasius the Greats consecration of Bishop Frumentius, and the presence of «countless Black saints and martyrs» all pointed to the importance of saints of African descent.271 Berry learned of all of this after his encounter with the icon of St. Moses the Black. He had entered the American anti-traditional tradition by joining HOOM, a unique restorationist movement of the 1960s, and soon found himself pursuing the tradition of Orthodox Christianity.
NAVIGATING SCHISM AND EVANGELIZING AFRICAN AMERICANS
During his time within the Christ the Savior Brotherhood, Berry's activities increased significantly. One reason they did so had to do with his desire to bring Orthodox Christianity and African Americans together. For Berry, this was a very personal undertaking:
The racism I found in the [Orthodox] Church was almost beyond my ability to endure. Once, I visited an Orthodox Church in St. Louis and asked if I could enter within to venerate the icons. I had heard that they had the most wonderful mosaics. I was told by the priest that I couldn't come into the church (although it was open). He went on to say that if I was interested in the Church, I would feel much more comfortable at the Coptic Church. This same priest, when asked by an interviewer on television why more people weren't joining the Orthodox Church, answered that the reason lay in obstructive immigration policies!272
This event, which occurred a few years into his ministry while living in St. Louis, was especially hurtful to him because it related to the tension he felt between feeling he was Orthodox as a member of Christ the Savior Brotherhood and yet knowing he was not viewed as Orthodox by the actual Orthodox Churches themselves. His experience at this parish, of course, did nothing to encourage him to enter into one of the canonical jurisdictions, due to the racism he experienced.
Furthermore, as he looked at Orthodoxy in America, he also struggled to come to terms with the fact that Orthodoxy in North America consisted of so many different jurisdictions. Berry wrote, «There was divisiveness of an order that appalled me. Jurisdiction against jurisdiction, Old Calendar against New Calendar – some people saying even that the saints in Heaven prefer one over the other.»273 For Fr. Moses Berry, the Orthodox Church presented the same problems one could find anywhere – human sin – expressed in experiences of racism, administrative disunity, and legalistic debates. In response to this, Berry focused on what change he could effect and as he did this, he would eventually conclude that he needed to enter a canonical Orthodox Church.
In 1993, he helped guide a small Kansas City parish with an outreach ministry to racial minorities, «Reconciliation Ministries,» into Pangratios Vrionis's jurisdiction.274 That same year he also began holding annual conferences for the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black.275 A Lenten retreat in 1990 at St. Moses the Black Orthodox Church, also known as «St. Moses House,» in Washington, D.C., provided Berry with the impetus for creating the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black. This retreat was led by Elias Farajaje-Jones who was, at the time, an Orthodox priest of African American descent.276 Farajaje-Jones encouraged Berry to pursue his idea of establishing the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black, with regular, annual conferences to showcase «ancient Christianity and its deep African roots.»277
The conferences were successful and in 1997, the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black received funding for a book project, a publication of the essays from its fourth conference.278 Berry himself contributed both an essay as well as the book's «final word.»279 As the book's subtitle indicated, the sole purpose of the essays was to connect ancient African Christianity with the African American experience. The emphasis on connecting African Christianity and African American experience has continued to resonate with the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black. This is evidenced both in the annual conference presentations and in subsequent publications.280
For Berry, this has been vital because he linked «otherworldly Christian values» directly to the ancient Orthodox monastic tradition, especially in ancient Egypt and Africa. Commenting on the title of the book that published the conference's papers (An Unbroken Circle), Berry wrote, «Christ's Body, the Church, is also a circle. As this book has shown, not only are the people of Africa part of that circle, but they are a key part... By founding the monastic tradition, they preserved the otherworldliness of true Christianity»281 Even Berry's solution to the problems faced by African American youth in contemporary culture may sound monastic to some: «Prayer and fasting are the only ways that we can begin to help our lost Black children of this day and age.»282
Berry made this connection by linking the «old Black Church,» especially as expressed during slavery in America, with the Christianity and monasticism of the early Christian period.283 Slaves obtained a Christian faith from their white masters but their faith was in Christ himself and the older spirituals and hymnography were focused on salvation in the «world to come,» not the world as it existed in their present moment. This vision has guided Berry to use the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black to «root» and «nourish» African Americans «on the martyric experiences of their righteous Christian forefathers and foremothers, both in Africa and in America.»284 Doing this, Berry believed, meant being «at odds with the world,» but being at odds meant not standing on one's own in one's own separate little group. Rather, «we cling to the Tradition of the Church as it has been preserved through the ages.»285 Berry sought not simply what could be labeled yet another expression of restorationism in the American anti-traditional tradition, but rather the Christian tradition, albeit one that preceded America itself and could connect African Americans today to their slave ancestors and even pre-slave African Christianity.
This emphasis upon tradition has continued to guide Berry. Not too many years after the publication of the 1997 conference papers, Christ the Savior Brotherhood began to learn, question, and wrestle with Pangratios Vrionis's pedophile criminal history. By 2000, the majority of them had entered canonical Orthodox jurisdictions, though some members considered themselves to have become Orthodox in 1988 after having joined Pangratios's self-styled jurisdiction, a jurisdiction recognized by no other Orthodox jurisdiction.286 Berry claimed that had a canonical Orthodox jurisdiction approached Christ the Savior Brotherhood in the 1980s, they would have gone in that direction rather than accepting Pangratios Vrionis's self-created jurisdiction. When reflecting on the experience, he no longer saw himself as having truly entered Orthodoxy when joining Christ the Savior Brotherhood.287 He remained «thankful» for what Podmoshensky had done but also felt «misled» by the man.
In November 2000, Berry was ordained to the Orthodox diaconate and priesthood since no Orthodox Christian Church could canonically accept Berry's ordination by a defrocked Greek Orthodox priest turned self-styled archbishop. This enabled Berry's parish, which he had founded in Ash Grove, Missouri, in 1998, to enter into the Orthodox Church in America's Diocese of the Midwest. Two years later, in 2002, he opened the Ozarks Afro-American Heritage Museum in Ash Grove, a project he had been planning since 1996. In 2006, his work also received some public encouragement from the hierarchy of the Orthodox Church in America.288
THE BROTHERHOOD OF ST. MOSES THE BLACK AND TRADITION
The Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black has attracted a small group of men and women for whom the connections between African American religious identity, slave identity, and early African Christianity are to be found in the Orthodox Christian tradition. Although attempting to examine each member would make this present work unwieldy, a quick look at two other prominent members of the order (Albert Raboteau and Carla N. Thomas) may help bear this out.
Albert Raboteau is a distinguished scholar of African American religion from Princeton who has published his own life's spiritual journey, wherein he connected the themes of joy and sorrow.289 Raboteau recounted his Roman Catholic upbringing in the south as well as his professional and marital struggles. His professional work furthered his spiritual journey and prepared him for his encounter with Orthodox Christianity.
Like Berry, Raboteau connected African American spirituality to ancient African Christianity, though Raboteau emphasized otherworldly concerns as juxtapositions of joy and sadness. After researching historical African American slave sources, he concluded, «these voices were special; they resonated with the wisdom that comes from those who have endured suffering and triumphed over it. I was struck by the tenor of these voices, suffused with such sadness and yet juxtaposed with joy»290 Raboteau was later moved by an exhibit of Russian icons. «It simply astonished me. I went back three times. One icon in particular attracted me with its spiritual power, an icon of the Theotokos291 with sad loving eyes.»292 He soon met another man who had seen the exhibit. The individual turned out to be Orthodox and invited Raboteau to attend a divine liturgy: «My experience with the icons recurred. I was overwhelmed by the spiritual power of the Divine Liturgy ... I was moved especially by the hymns. They had that same sadly joyful tone which I associated with down home and with slave spirituals.»293
Although Raboteau did not become Orthodox through the work of the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black, he has found a home there and it may be no accident that he shares a vision not so different from that of Fr. Moses Berry. Raboteau wrote in the afterword for the publication of the 1997 conference papers that he had found three «resonances, or points of convergence» between African American slave religion and Orthodox Christianity.294 The first was historical, whereby ancient Christianity «is not, as many think, a European religion. Christian communities were well established in Africa by the third and fourth centuries.»295 Here, one sees the same effort Berry exhibited, to find the ancient Christian tradition that explicitly expressed itself on the African continent, among African people. The second was spiritual, whereby there were analogies between traditional African religions and Orthodox Christianity.296 For example, he noted that there was not an antithetical relationship between soul and body, something African slaves had properly understood, and something expressed not simply in martyrdom, but also liturgically.297 The third was «the experience of suffering.»298 Raboteau believed this «sadful joy» was expressed within the African American slave religion because the slaves lived a Christianity that was «in the world, but not of the world,» as had early Christians, who were willing to undergo martyrdom.299 These last two convergences bear a striking similarity to some of Berry's thought regarding the «otherworldliness» of true Orthodox Christianity.
Although Orthodox Christianity does often attract American men moreso than women,300 and men feature prominently within the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black, the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black has appealed to African American women as well. Dr. Carla N. Thomas serves as the current vice president. One of Thomas's own cousins is Fr. Jerome Sanderson, a member of St. Moses the Black, and it was he who first introduced Dr. Thomas to Fr. Moses Berry.301 Dr. Thomas not only found an African American community willing to offer her a sense of community and support, but she also found herself drawn to Mary, the Mother of God, something she claimed most Baptists (of which she was once a member) would consider «an advanced lesson.» She was invited to attend the meetings of the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black, found herself attracted to the community and the message, and soon became a member and vice president. Currently, she is a member of St. Luke Orthodox Mission in Anniston, Alabama, where she operates the Abba Moses Free Clinic, a clinic offering free services to the community in the morning following matins. Like Berry and Raboteau, Thomas believed the true African American spiritual heritage, or tradition, is one that is Orthodox. As a medical doctor, she found the unmercenary saints, those saints known for healing without any expectation of payment in return, to be consonant with the African American heritage exemplified by Martin Luther King, Jr.302
Raboteau and Thomas are not alone, as evidenced by other conference papers publicly available, thus showing that the Afrocentric, restorationist turn to tradition that Berry has made resonates with some fellow African Americans. For Moses Berry, the need to maintain an otherworldly approach to Christianity and the desire to find a church that included a plurality of races and ethnicities led him to turn to a Christianity that existed before European and American Christians engaged in the Atlantic slave trade.
The resulting emphasis upon early Christianity and African monasticism might cause some readers to wonder whether this makes Fr. Moses Berry and the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black more like Malcolm X than Martin Luther King, Jr., but with Orthodox Christianity as the terminus rather than Islam. Some scholars have looked at African American religious history as dominated by the trajectories of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X. According to such an outline, King looked to what America could become while Malcolm X looked to what America had been and was during his own lifetime.303 Furthermore, «Malcolm X based his view of America on the historical fact of slavery»304 Slavery certainly was a lens used by Berry when discussing otherworldliness and is prominent in other voices (such as Raboteau’s) within the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black. Furthermore, Malcolm X's pilgrimage to Mecca, which amazed him with the interracial character of Islam parallels the Berry's experiences of Orthodox hymnography and iconography.
A careful assessment, however, demonstrates that Berry and the Brotherhood offer a different trajectory, one that is neither in the vein of Martin Luther King, Jr., nor in the vein of Malcolm X.305 In contrast to Martin Luther King, Jr., the problem (according to Berry) was spiritual and ecclesiological and was so to such an extent that although he engaged in social ministry, he never felt a need to develop a social ethic. Berry even explicitly criticized such a move when he critiqued the black church for having sought after the wrong kingdom. Certainly, Berry's ministerial work, especially during his years in HOOM, and Thompsons free clinic are examples of social engagement, but social engagement does not equal placing one's hope in social advancement. Rather, such efforts are better understood here as examples of how an Orthodox Christian might strive to be in the world even while not being of the world. Therefore, Berry and others in the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black do seem to lie within the general trend among some African American thinkers to find their true pre-slavery identity, but not in a manner that fits within Malcolm X's particular trajectory. It may be worth noting that Berry relates to Fr. Raphael Morgan in this regard as well, for the movement toward finding a true pre-slave identity had a strong presence in the early twentieth century, where it directly contradicted Garvey's enterprise.306 Some turned to Judaism. Some turned to Islam. Some turned to the perceived universalism of Roman Catholicism. Morgan had turned to Orthodox Christianity and over half a century later, Berry and others in the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black would follow suit, though in different ways.307
Examining Berry's religious journey and the outreach of the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black, one concludes that the way to spiritual fulfillment for many African American converts to Orthodoxy is neither a black nationalism nor working exclusively for equality and higher social standing, but prayerfully praying and worshipping in the sadful joy of the Orthodox liturgical services. Berry sought out a Christianity that included engaged multiple races and ethnicities and was open to all. In this sense, one might argue, he sought catholicity. Yet he also sought an otherworldly Christianity, one that looked to God's transcendence as well as understanding that God could be present within one's own immediate suffering. Berry instinctively sought both catholicity and otherworldliness through a restorationist lens, looking to ancient African Christianity. Ultimately, Berry found this within the Orthodox Church, which he saw as the continuation of early Christianity, for which African Christianity played an integral role. This turn to tradition might appear to be a rather un-American maneuver, but ironically, Berry's journey explicitly utilized Christian restorationism, so common in America, to ground himself in Eastern Orthodox Christianity. This can be seen within the early portion of his journey, as he sought to find his way through HOOM, a restorationist New Religious Movement, built on the supposed reincarnation of biblical personalities, that was beginning to seek a more traditional Christian expression. Here, Berry utilized the anti-traditional approach to reset his bearings. By accepting the restorationist assumptions of HOOM, as well as its Eastern Christian preferences, Berry took two aspects of African American Christianity that went before him (African American slave identity and an awareness of early Christianity) and brought them together by emphasizing ancient African Christianity. Having done this, Berry was able to conclude that the Orthodox Churches were the continuation of that same ancient Christian church so shaped by its African experience.
* * *
This narrative derives from my discussions with Berry on August 13, 2006. A reference to this story, but not the story itself, may be found in Father Moses Berry, «An Encounter with a Saint,» Again 17:2 (1994), 26. Except when citing Berry's writings or another interview, my presentation here derives from our discussions in August 2006 and November 2007. For a short summary of Berry's life, see also Mike Penprase, «Religious Mission Expanding,» Springfield News-Leader, October 15, 1998.
As in the case of Raphael Morgan, the reader is reminded that upon ordination, a priest receives a saint's name, by which he is thereafter known within his ministerial capacity. Saints» names are taken by anyone baptized and/or chrismated (anointed with chrism) in the Orthodox Church, but in reality, only those of the clergy tend to become public identities.
Fr. Moses Berry, in personal discussions with the author, August 13, 2006. See also, Berry, «An Encounter with a Saint,"26.
Berry, «An Encounter with a Saint,» 26.
Paisius Altschul, ed., An Unbroken Circle: Linking Ancient African Christianity to the African-American Experience (St. Louis: Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black, 1997), 66–67. Incidentally, Wallace White, Berry's great-grandfather, was also the only member of Company D not to receive a military pension, though Berry notes his great-grandfather was not resentful, but thankful for what he did have.
Father Moses Berry, «Lost Heritage,» Epiphany 15:4 (1996), 74.
«Lost Heritage of African Americans,» 67.
Fr. Moses Berry, in discussion with the author, August 13,2006.
A highly informative history of HOOM may be found in Phillip Charles Lucas, The Odyssey of a New Religion: the Holy Order of MANS from New Age to Orthodoxy (Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press, 1999). MANS was an acronym standings for the Greek words mysterion, agape, nous, and sophia. A brief history may be found in Hieromonk Jonah (Paffhausen), «The Doors of Repentance: The Journey of the Holy Order of MANS/Christ the Saviour Brotherhood and the St. Herman of Alaska Brotherhood into the Canonical Orthodox Church,» AGAIN 23:1 (2001), 23–26. Jonah Paffhausen was subsequently elevated to the episcopacy and is now a retired metropolitan of the Orthodox Church in America.
See Lucas, 46.
Berry, in discussion with the author, November 9, 2007. In1979, Berry went to Harlem as a youth director for St. Philips's Episcopal Cathedral, under the pastorate of the notable African American social activist and minister, Rev. M. Moran Weston.Fr. Moses Berry, in discussion with the author, November 9,2007.
Fr. Moses Berry, in discussion with the author, November 9,2007. At a deanery meeting in December 2007, at which I was present, Archbishop Job decided to merge the two parishes. Fr. Christopher Phillips, the rector of Christ the Good Shepherd, became the pastor of the joint community.
Fr. Seraphim died in 1982 and in 1984, ROCOR suspended Podmoshensky from the priesthood on charges of homosexuality and threatening the life of his bishop. However, Podmoshensky had already been «evangelizing» HOOMS as early as 1982.
Certificate No. 330 from The New Valaam Theological Academy, dated 12/25 day of September, 1985, issued to Rev. Karl Berry, available in the archives of Fr. Moses Berry (henceforth, AFMB).
Hieromonk Jonah, 24. At the time, Abbot Herman was Berry's spiritual director. See Abbot Herman to Fr. Moses Berry, September 11/24, 1988 and Abbot Herman to Fr. Moses Berry, September 11/24, 1993. AFMB. Orthodox Christians continue to call Easter by the name Pascha, the Greek word for «Passover.»
Abbot Herman Podmoshensky to Fr. Moses Berry, September11/24, 1988, AFMB. Again, the reader is reminded that the first date is from the Julian Calendar, used by Orthodox to determine Pascha (Easter) and the surrounding ecclesiastical year. Since 1900, the calendars have differed by thirteen days.
Abbot Herman Podmoshensky to Fr. Moses Berry, September11/25, 1993, AFMB. Underline and grammatical shifts were in the original. This letter actually contained many phrases contrasting the world and Christ the Savior Brotherhood’s Orthodox faith.
Podmoshenky’s outlook has also been called «traditionalist» or a «catacomb ecclesiology.» See Paffhausen, 24.
Discussions with the author, November 2007.
«An Encounter with a Saint,» 26–27. Berry expanded upon this in personal discussions with the author, August 13, 2006.
«An Encounter with a Saint,» 26.
Berry, «An Encounter with a Saint,» 27. Berry expanded upon this in personal discussions with the author, August 13, 2006
«An Encounter with a Saint,» 27. The reference to «New Calendar» versus «Old Calendar» is a reference to the fact that some Orthodox Churches, including the majority in America, have adopted the later Gregorian calendar for determining its liturgical cycle except for that of Pascha (Easter).
See Thelma Michaila Altschul, «31st and Troost: An Orthodox Mission Flowers in the Inner City,» AGAIN 17:2 (1994), 24–25. The parish is pastored by Paisius Altschul, editor of the book Unbroken Circle. It’s website contains information on the conferences of St. Moses the Black. See http://www.stmaryofegypt.net. The parish eventually left Pangratios Vrionis» jurisdiction and is now within the Serbian Orthodox Church.
Paisius Altschul, ed., An Unbroken Circle: Linking Ancient African Christianity to the African-American Experience (St. Louis: Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black, 1997), xiii.
Farajaje-Jones was later removed from the Orthodox priesthood when he advocated alternative sexual mores. He subsequently became a Muslim and changed his name to Ibrahim Abdurrahman Farajaje. Farajaje continued to explore the connection(s) between African American spirituality and African spirituality.
This purpose for the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black may be found on the brotherhood’s website: http://wwwmosestheblack.org/ (accessed December 19, 2012).
This collection is the book, An Unbroken Circle, cited in the note above.
65–73 and 164–166.
For example, see Father Paisius Altschul, Wade in the River: The Story of the African Christian Faith (Kansas City: Cross-bearers Publishing, 2001); Jerome Sanderson, Saint Moses the Ethiopian (Indianapolis: Christ the Saviour Brotherhood,2001); Jerome Sanderson and Carla Thomas, Saints of Africa (Indianapolis: Christ the Saviour Brotherhood, 2006).
Berry, «Full Circle: A Final Word from the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black,» in An Unbroken Circle, 164.
«Lost Heritage,» 76. In Mark 9:29, Jesus informs his disciples that the reason they could not exorcise a demon was because it could not be removed except by «prayer and fasting.»
Berry spoke at length about this during our discussions in August, 2006.
Berry, «Full Circle,"165.
See Hieromonk Jonah, 24.
Fr. Moses Berry, in discussion with the author, November 9,2007. Berry remains thankful for what Podmoshensky did and still loves the man, but feels «misled» nonetheless and believes Podmoshensky led them astray by advocating for Pangratios’s group rather than guiding them directly into canonical Orthodoxy.
See «Rediscovering Africa's Ancient Christian Heritage,» The Orthodox Church 42:7/8 (2006), 16–17. Metropolitan Herman, metropolitan of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA), recognized the importance of the work of the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black, and wrote to Archbishop Nathaniel of Detroit and the Romanian Episcopate, «I invoke God’s blessing upon all those who have organized the Conference and all those who will attend.» Metropolitan Herman to Archbishop Nathaniel, June 16, 2006.
Albert Raboteau, A Sorrowful Joy (New York and Mahwah, N.J.: Paulist Press, 2002).
Theotokos literally means «God-bearer,» or «birth-giver of God.» This is a traditional Christian reference to Mary still used by Orthodox today.
Albert Panteleimon Raboteau, afterword to An Unbroken Circle, 162.
Albert J. Raboteau, «American Salvation: The Place of Christianity in Public Life,» Boston Review (April/May, 2005), available at http://bostonreview.net/BR30.2/raboteau.html(accessed December 21, 2012).
This can be seen in several stories in: Virginia Nieuwsma, Our Hearts» True Home (Ben Lomond, CA: Conciliar Press, 1996). See also Frederica Mathewes-Green, «Men and Church,» Word (December 2007), available at http://www.antiochian.org/node/17069 (accessed December 12, 2012).
Dr. Carla N. Thomas kindly presented the outline of her own religious journey through email correspondence, March, 2010.
Carla N. Thomas, Unbroken Circle, 133–139.
James H. Cone, «America: A Dream or A Nightmare?» Journal of the International Theological Center 13:2 (1986), 264.
And here I am taking for granted that readers realize a key difference. Berry and the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black emphasize an otherworldly, suffering Christian spirituality. In contrast, Malcolm X saw Christianity as a driving force in racial suppression and was willing to use «any means necessary» to achieve his goal, which was not steps toward full integration but the furthering of black nationalism. See Derek Q. Reeves, «Beyond the River Jordan: An Essay on the Continuity of the Black Prophetic Tradition,» The Journal of Religious Thought 47:2 (1991), 48.
Raboteau, Canaan Land: A Religious History of African Americans (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), 89.
This answer should not surprise us, since Raboteau himself pointed out a similar problem with scholarship that tended to dichotomize earlier African American thought between W. E. B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington, who disagreed on how best to respond to the racial situation. «This disagreement between DuBois and Washington reveals a sometimes overlooked fact: African-American opinion has never been unanimous. The various perspectives... reflected their differences in class, education, residence, and religion.» Raboteau, Canaan Land, 78.