Back in 2010, a young seminarian spoke at the Ancient Faith & Afro-American Christianity Conference in Aniston, Alabama. These were a few of his words: “And in many ways, if the Lord wills I know that if I have a ministry, it will be in many ways the fruit of the Brotherhood of St. Moses the Black.” Neither Subdeacon Paul Abernathy or John Norman, the one who recorded a portion of Abernathy’s talk, knew the twist and turns that God would bring them through. Both were from Pittsburgh and didn’t know each other until a couple of years earlier.
My good friend, Subdeacon John Norman and his wife Hiwote, let me crash in their apartment during the 2022 St. Moses the Black Conference in Pittsburgh. He has completed the St. Stephen’s Certificate in Orthodox Theology and reads extensively. Father Paul Abernathy and his wife, Kristina, hosted the Conference at the Neighborhood Resilience Project headquarters which also houses the St. Moses the Black Mission Parish.
I’ve been blessed to be friends with these two brothers since 2012 and have kept up with their work. They took a few bumps and bruises and had wonderful moments of celebration and joy. In all things, Fr. Paul and Subdeacon John were careful to do things in God’s time and in His way.
I have seen ministers and ministries crash and burn because they tried to do things according to their own will and conventional wisdom. Honestly, this may have been the source of my mistakes as I have tried to share the faith. Perhaps we tend to avoid God’s time and way because we want to see instant results, wide popularity, or an easier path. The reasons why we choose our own route over His are numerous. However, the result is the same: “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it’ (Psalm 127:1).
Two young brothers from Pittsburgh sought to share the light of Orthodox Christianity in their community. With the presence of the Holy Trinity and the prayers of St. Moses the Black, they are doing a good work. God grant them, and others, many years!