“A Jazz influenced Pastor with a Hip-Hop vibe. Saved by Jesus, Inspired by Zora Neale Hurston, blessed by Howard Thurman & Amazed by August Wilson.” That is how the Rev. Otis Moss III, senior pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, identifies himself on Twitter.
Moss returns to Chautauqua Institution to be the chaplain for Week Five. His sermon title for the 10:45 a.m. Sunday morning service in the Amphitheater is “Living Beneath Your Call.” He will share his faith journey at the 5 p.m. July 24 Vespers at the Hall of Philosophy and will preach at the 9:15 a.m. morning worship service Monday through Friday in the Amp.
Moss’ sermon titles through the week are “When the Church Decides to Repent (Part 1): Raising a New Generation of Prophets,” “When The Church Decides To Repent (Part 2): Sisters in the Wilderness,” “When the Church Decides to Repent (Part 3): Rainbow Redemption,” “I Love Jesus, but at Times I Can’t Stand the Church” and “The Other America.”
On July 14, Moss published a letter in The Huffington Post, to his son, Elijah. Like many other letters from African-American fathers to their sons, he urged his son to realize that he is not safe in the world, that his life is not valued as others are, yet he should not despair.
“Never let your anger become unchecked rage, scratching at the lining of your heart,” Moss wrote. “I tell you often, you are loved and designed with purpose and immeasurable potential. You carry a lineage of women who refused to bow and men who dared to live. Never forget who you are and the legacy you hold.
“The world we live in will attempt to steal your essence and drain away every ounce of your beautiful life from your soul. Never allow the external noise to disrupt your inner life. The practice of silence, meditation, prayer, reflection, community gathering and healthy grieving will serve to strengthen you on this journey.”
A leading progressive Christian activist and cultural critic, Moss is the author of several books. His latest, Blue Note Preaching in a Post-Soul World: Finding Hope in an Age of Despair, is based on his 2014 Lyman Beecher lectures at Yale. In those lectures and his book, Moss asks: “Can preaching recover a Blues sensibility and dare speak with authority in the midst of tragedy? America is living stormy Monday, but the pulpit is preaching happy Sunday. The world is experiencing the Blues, and pulpiteers are dispensing excessive doses of non-prescribed prosaic sermons with severe ecclesiastical and theological side effects.”
He is also the author of Redemption in a Red Light District and The Gospel According to the Wiz: And Other Sermons from Cinema. He is co-author, with his father the Rev. Otis Moss Jr., of Preach! The Power and Purpose Behind Our Praise.
Moss’ sermons, articles and poetry have appeared in numerous publications. He is an ordained minister in the Progressive National Baptist Convention and the Trinity United Church of Christ, carrying dual standing in both denominations. He is a life member of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, board member of The Christian Century magazine, chaplain of the Children’s Defense Fund’s Samuel DeWitt Proctor Child Advocacy Conference.
A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Moss is an honors graduate of Morehouse College, Yale Divinity School and has a Doctor of Ministry degree from Chicago Theological Seminary.