Fr. Moses Berry reposes in the Lord

Ash Grove, Missouri, January 15, 2024

Photo: Photo: One of the most beloved Orthodox priests in America, known for decades of dedicated labor in the Lord’s vineyard, reposed in the Lord last week

Archpriest Moses Berry, 73, reposed on Friday January 12, 2024, following months in the hospital and a short time in hospice, reports the Orthodox Church in America.

In addition to his regular duties as a priest, Fr. Moses is remembered as a missionary who helped bring countless people to Christ, and as a founding member and spiritual guide of the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black, aimed at drawing the connections between Orthodox and African spirituality.

His funeral will be celebrated today at the Theotokos “Unexpected Joy” Church in Ash Grove, which he founded and where he served as rector for many years, with the Divine Liturgy and burial to be served tomorrow.

May Fr. Moses’ memory be eternal!


His biography from reads:

Archpriest Moses Berry, 73 of Ash Grove, feel asleep in the Lord on Friday, January 12, 2024. Father Moses (Karl) was born August 20, 1950, to Charles Berry Jr. and Wanda Lee (Carlock) Berry in Lockwood, Missouri. On May 7, 1983, Father Moses and Magdalena Arkin were united in marriage and shared over 40 years together.

Father Moses grew up in Missouri but traveled and lived across the country in his youth. After a trying experience with the law, he strengthened his faith in God, joining a national non-denominational Christian community where he would eventually become a minister, and later meet his wife.

As their studies deepened, many members of the community became interested in Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Father Moses would later be baptized and ordained a priest in the Orthodox Church, becoming a spiritual father to hundreds.

In 1998, Father Moses returned to Ash Grove after inheriting the farm built by his great-grandfather in 1873 — a homestead his ancestors started after being freed from enslavement following the Civil War. Father Moses donated some of his family’s land to establish Theotokos Unexpected Joy Church, an Eastern Orthodox Church he grew from a mission to a full congregation, introducing many in the Ozarks to the faith.

The acreage also includes the family’s cemetery, which was established in 1875 and dedicated to “Slaves, Indians and Paupers”- people who were excluded from burial in traditional, segregated resting places. The cemetery, reconsecrated as Holy Resurrection Cemetery, is now on the national and Greene County registers of historic places. This is also where Father Moses will be laid to rest on Tuesday, January 16, 2024.

Father Moses was known for his impact as a spiritual leader, often combining a deep love for African American cultural heritage with a deep knowledge and commitment to Eastern Orthodox Christianity. He was a founding member of the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black, an organization in support of African Americans in the Eastern Orthodox Church, leading their annual conference for decades. Father Moses was instrumental in making hundreds of African Americans who were interested in Orthodoxy but concerned about inclusion feel more comfortable in pursuing the faith.

In 2002, Father Moses opened the Ozarks Afro-American Heritage Museum on Main Street in Ash Grove with more than 100 artifacts and heirlooms, many of which were saved and preserved by his own family. He was a nationally popular speaker and advisor on African American history and issues of spirituality, often using stories of his mother and grandmother’s strong faith as examples. A New York Times story once referred to Berry as a “one-man racial reconciliation committee.”

Father Moses is survived by his wife, Magdalena Berry; son, Elijah Berry; daughter, Dorothy Berry; brother, Keith Berry; sister, Darla Jackson; other family and many friends.

Father Moses is preceded in death by his parents, Charles Berry Jr. and Wanda Lee Berry and brothers, Charles and Gary.

Follow OrthoChristian on Twitter, Vkontakte, Telegram, WhatsApp, MeWe, and Gab!


to our mailing list

* indicates required