FT. LEONARD WOOD, MO [MW Diocese Communications] -- Archpriest Moses Berry, Rector of the Theotokos "Unexpected Joy" Mission, Ash Grove, MO, delivered the keynote address at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. observance and luncheon at the Pershing Community Center at Fort Leonard Wood, MO in mid-January 2016.
In addition to his pastoral duties, Father Moses is the Curator of the Ozarks Afro-American Heritage Museum. His family is well known in southwest Missouri as being an African-American family living on the same property for more than 125 years, and he has worked hard over the years to share that legacy and preserve African-American history in the Ozarks.
“I live in a house that my great grandfather and great grandmother built in 1871,” said Father Moses. “I was raised in a place where there was community.”
Father Moses went on to relate the story of Fanny Murray, a freed slave living in his hometown after the Civil War. His grandfather built a house for her on the site of his present church.
“She didn’t have anywhere to live. She had to rely on the kindness of strangers,” he said.
To illustrate the celebration's theme -- "A Day On, Not a Day Off!" -- Father Moses talked about Murray’s daughter, Olivia, who died in 1991. He recalled the many times he would see her walking around town, always carrying a basket filled with eggs and produce from her farm which she would share with families down on their luck. His mother told him that “she saved many lives around here, including ours.
“If we want to know how we can not take a day off, but have a day on, it is to minister to one another,” Father Moses emphasized, explaining that in this instance "to minister" is synonymous with doing kindness for those in need and being willing to go a little bit further than is necessary. He went on to speak about the value of remembering the past while explaining several artifacts pertaining to African-American history, and concluded his presentation by calling upon his audience to remember that Dr. King wanted “fairness for everyone.”
“How do we demonstrate that fairness? By loving those who, spitefully use and say all manor of evil against us. That is how we honor Martin Luther King,” Father Moses said.
Following Father Moses' address, Col. Daryl Hood, 3rd Chemical Brigade commander, honored him with a commemorative plaque.