Father Moses (Karl) Berry, 73 of Ash Grove, passed away on Friday, Jan. 12, 2024. He was born Aug. 20, 1950, to Charles Berry Jr. and Wanda Lee (Carlock) Berry in Lockwood.
He 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.
On May 7, 1983, he and Magdalena Arkin were united in marriage and shared over 40 years together.
He was later baptized and ordained a priest in the Orthodox Church, becoming a spiritual father to hundreds.
In 1998, he returned to Ash Grove after inheriting the farm built by his great-grandfather in 1873 after being freed from enslavement following the Civil War. 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 he will be laid to rest.
He 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.
In 2002, Fr. 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.”
He is survived by his wife, Magdalena Berry; son, Elijah Berry; daughter, Dorothy Berry; brother, Keith Berry; sister, Darla Jackson; other family and many friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents and brothers, Charles and Gary.
Visitation was held on Monday, Jan. 15, at Theotokos Unexpected Joy Orthodox Church in Ash Grove followed by funeral vigil services. Divine Liturgy was held on Tues., Jan. 16, with burial to follow at Holy Resurrection Cemetery in Ash Grove.


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