At a time when African Americans in Chicago and across the country are speaking out about police shootings and misconduct, one South Side pastor is putting a spiritual imprint on the message that black lives matter.
“Our being matters. Our humanity matters. Our spirituality matters,” the Reverend Dr. Otis Moss III said in a recent sermon. “The clarion call of this generation is more than a political statement.”
At the Trinity United Church of Christ, Reverend Moss leads one of the largest congregations in Chicago. His church in Washington Park has more than 8,000 members and 50 active ministries. In addition to preaching every Sunday, Moss helped create a curriculum in the wake of the 2014 fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. Called “My Life Matters,” it lists 10 rules for how young black men should act around police.
“The challenge with this is that even if you follow the 10 rules, you can still be killed,” he told the Morning Shift. It’s a theme he expanded on in a recent letter he wrote to his teenage son.
Moss took over as Trinity’s senior pastor in 2008. In his preaching and leadership, he incorporates current events, but he also ties together spirituality, social justice, and environmental sustainability.
One example: He spearheaded a plan to put a green roof on his church. The project is now underway, and Trinity has hired what Moss calls “returning citizens” — ex-felons — to do the construction work.
“We are the only country where we continue to brand a scarlet letter on people who have been incarcerated where they have to carry it for the rest of their lives,” he told the Morning Shift. To hear Tony Sarabia’s full interview with Reverend Dr. Otis Moss III, click on the audio player above.
Explore more: Watch Reverend Moss preach about why black lives matter below.