The Rev. Otis Moss III is excited to be heading to New York City this weekend, albeit for a solemn purpose.
On Saturday, the three-year anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Rev. Moss will address Manhattan's Riverside Church as the keynote speaker for a candlelight service commemorating the victims of the country's worst terrorist attack.
"I'd be lying if I said I was not nervous to a degree," the Rev. Moss said Wednesday. "We just solicit the prayers of our Augusta community. We'll try to represent Augusta well."
The Rev. Moss, 33, has served as pastor of Tabernacle Baptist Church for the past seven years and has delivered hundreds of sermons in his life.
But to say he was surprised when the Rev. James Forbes Jr., Riverside's senior minister, asked him to deliver the keynote speech at the Sept. 11 remembrance is an understatement.
"I was shocked!" the Rev. Moss said. "It's Riverside! I mean, every major religious leader has spoken at Riverside."
Archbishop Desmond Tutu and other political figures including Nelson Mandela and past presidents have spoken there, he said.
Dr. Forbes said he heard the Rev. Moss speak in Atlanta several months ago.
"He is perhaps one of the most insightful and inspirational speakers of our time," Dr. Forbes said. "He is young, but his wisdom exceeds his age. His knowledge of our culture makes it possible for him to correlate the gospel message with contemporary issues in an extraordinary way."
The Rev. Moss plans to deliver a sermon focusing on the Christian responsibility of handling "the evil that is pervasive in the world, in our hearts, in the community and our society."
He and his family plan to leave today for New York City, but the Rev. Moss will be back Saturday night.
"I've got to preach Sunday morning," he said.
Reach Kate Lewis at (706) 823-3215 or firstname.lastname@example.org.