St. Moses the Black Society Forms

November 1, 2017 • On-campus

In September, a new poll from NBC News and The Wall Street Journal reported that 7-in-10 Americans viewed race relations in the United States as “poor.” The poll revealed that 28% of the public, including 24% of white and 40% of black Americans, stated that race relations are “very bad,” with another 42 percent of all respondents calling them "fairly bad.”

Heartbreaking news.

But here at St. Vladimir’s a new student interest group is addressing the problem: the St. Moses the Black Society endeavors to foster meaningful conversation on race in the Orthodox Church today and to introduce the Orthodox Christian faith to black communities in America. The society, which began to take shape Spring Semester 2017, now officially takes its place alongside four other student-led interest groups, all under the umbrella of our Student Council.

The president of the newly organized society is Anthony Davis, a seminarian in the Orthodox Church in America, Diocese of the South, and the faculty advisor is Professor Peter C. Bouteneff. Comprising the society are 10 students, among them three African-American seminarians and three African seminarians.

Seminarian Davis revealed upcoming plans for the budding society.

“First of all,” he said, “I led our initial meeting focused around the scriptural verse, Matthew 28:18–20, in which Jesus directs his disciples to go forth to all other nations, baptizing them and teaching them. I reminded society members that we are supposed to reach out not only to people who look like ourselves; we’re supposed to reach out to everyone.

“Second, we’re going to build our ministry on prayer, especially prayer to some of the African saints,” he noted. “We hope to schedule Akathist services to ask intercession of holy fathers and mothers like St. Moses the Black and St. Mary of Egypt.

“Third,” he explained, “we hope to minister in facilities like Emmaus House of Harlem, rubbing shoulders with people from black communities, and introducing them to the Orthodox faith.”

The society takes its inspiration from the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black, a national pan-Orthodox organization that desires to make the Orthodox faith available to the African American community and to help the broader Church in realizing this goal. In fact, several members of the St. Moses Society participated in the Brotherhood’s 24th Annual Conference held October 6–8, 2017, in Princeton, NJ, which was titled, “Growing Closer to Christ, Growing Closer Together,”. Seminary Board of Trustee member, Carla Ann Newbern Thomas, M.D., spearheaded and organized that national conference, and seminary president, Fr. Chad Hatfield, led the seminary community contingent. (Read related story, which includes photo of St. Vladimir’s attendees.)

View videos of St. Moses the Black Society members Seminarian Sacristan Anthony Davis and Seminarian Deacon Simon Menya, as they explain how important the daily liturgical life in Three Hierarchs Chapel is to their spiritual formation.