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Priest finds faith that looks 'like me'

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  • Rev. Fr. John-Brian Paprock
    Priest finds faith that looks like me Saturday, July 01, 2006 By Juanita Westaby The Grand Rapids Press http://tinyurl.com/fpfqo GRAND RAPIDS -- When The
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 1, 2006
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      Priest finds faith that looks 'like me'

      Saturday, July 01, 2006
      By Juanita Westaby
      The Grand Rapids Press
      http://tinyurl.com/fpfqo

      GRAND RAPIDS -- When The Rev. Moses Berry was a child, his mother
      told him: "We are all flowers in God's garden." But he remembers
      thinking: "Where were the flowers in God's garden that looked like
      me?"

      The question was tucked into the back of his mind, when he grew up
      as a third-generation African Methodist Episcopal pastor's son.

      Today, he is an Orthodox priest who speaks nationwide about bringing
      African Americans and people from other ethnic backgrounds into his
      adopted faith. He might do it with something simple: prayer cards
      with icons that feature saints with dark skin.

      Berry, of Ash Grove, Mo., was one of the speakers at the 13th annual
      Ancient Christianity and African-American Conference in Detroit last
      weekend.

      Berry spoke of his journey to Orthodoxy, which includes jail time.
      He said he and his wife, Magdalena, then became "new age,
      nondenominational pastors."

      "Ex-flower children, Jesus freaks," he said.

      But a friend, who wanted him to experience something new, asked him
      to visit a church in Richmond, Va. There was talk about the Mother
      of God. There was a different language at times. There was incense.

      "Normally, we would revile against that," Berry said.

      But the icons caught his eye, especially one of St. Moses the
      Ethiopian.

      "He had nostrils like I had," Berry said. "He had lips like mine. He
      had coarse hair."

      Then, he looked at the icon of St. Cyprian of Carthage.

      "And I thought, 'Oh my goodness, these must be the flowers who
      looked like me,'" Berry said. "I knew I was home."
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