Source: Orthodox Christian Network (OCN)
We are pleased to announce our myOCN Community Online Gathering this coming Thursday, July 2nd, at 7:00 pm EST with special guest Fr. Moses Berry. Fr. Christopher Metropulos, our Executive Director, will be offering a “Let’s Talk” 1 hour interactive video session on Zoom with limited availability for two-way discussion.
We will also be live-streamed on our Facebook page. Join us and thousands online for prayers and discussion. Families are welcome, and you will have the opportunity to ask questions. If you would like to attend, please register HERE to receive sign-in instructions.
Fr. Moses Berry
In 1998, Fr. Moses Berry moved with his family from St. Louis, MO to his family’s farm in Ash Grove, about 17 miles from Springfield, MO. The farm is a Century Farm, having been in the Berry family since 1872, and on the property is a cemetery dedicated to “Slaves, Paupers, and Indians” by the Berry’s, over a century ago. Fr. Moses felt that the cemetery needed to be maintained respectfully, and so he left a mission in the city to return to his boyhood home in rural Missouri.
A small group of faithful collected around the new mission, Theotokos “Unexpected Joy.” The first services were held in a tiny cemetery chapel, which we quickly outgrew. We moved to a larger temporary building closer to the rectory, which also served as the church hall. In 2000 the mission was received into the Orthodox Church in America.
Members come from all over the Ozarks to share their life in Christ. Springfield, MO is about a half hour’s drive, but some come from localities as far as Harrisonvile, Arkansas. Fr. Moses travels widely to give talks on mission and also on local Afro-American history; folks who have met him elsewhere often stop by to worship when they pass through the area. So, we are vitally connected with the larger Orthodox community while enjoying the quiet and beauty of the Missouri countryside.
I pray that recent events cause the Orthodox churches to look within, realizing that there is systemic racism within all Orthodox jurisdictions. Little has been done to reach out and embrace the black community. I venture to say that most Orthodox believe that blacks don’t belong in their church. It is time for Orthodox Christians to repent of racism.
I do not agree that there is “systemic racism” anywhere within the Orthodox Church, including in the US.
By “systemic” I mean racism built into the formal structure of the Church.
Are there individual members of the various Orthodox jurisdictions in the US who harbor racist sentiments directed against Black Americans? No doubt. But in my view, that is not systemic.
The racism that dwells within the hearts of individual members of our parishes is not only directed to our black brothers and sisters in America. If Orthodox racism can be said to be “systemic” in America it is the racism often directed by members of one ethnic jurisdiction towards members of the others. It is the racism of “ethnics” against converts and Americans. The failure of the Mother churches to unite the multiple, overlapping ethnic jurisdictions in the US encourages and fosters this manifestation of racism,
While Phyletism has been condemned in words by the Mother Churches, it is supported in practice by them in the US and their representatives in the Assembly of Bishops in America.
George, phyletism is alive and well among Orthodox jurisdictions. If phyletism didn’t exist, we would be one United Orthodox Church in America. However, it is my firm conviction that racism is also alive and well among all Orthodox jurisdictions. I challenge you to stand up at your next general assembly and present a motion to begin outreach to blacks In the Chicago area and see the response you receive.
By the way, racism is a spiritual problem as are all problems. The presentation of the question assumes there is one’s spiritual life and a non-spiritual life. This is one of the most seductive forms of secularism, the division of life into categories of spiritual and non-spiritual. For a Christian, everything is spiritual. “Let us commit our whole lives to Christ” is repeated several times during the liturgy. St Paul says whether you eat drink, do it to the glory of God. Our faith experience cannot be limited to only particular areas of life.