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Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church unites after 27-year split

Published:Sunday | July 29, 2018 | 12:00 AMKeteis Brissett/Contributor
Ethiopia's Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (left)

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC) in Jamaica joyfully welcome the news of its faith uniting after approximately 27 years of division.

After nearly three decades of split between an Addis Ababa Synod and a synod in exile, with two rival patriarchs, the two groups have now been united into one single Holy Synod, and the schism is officially over. This announcement was made by church hierarchies at Washington, DC's Debre Mihret St Michael's Cathedral on Thursday, July 26.

Speaking at the Convention Centre in Washington, DC, Ethiopian Prime Minister Dr Abiy Ahmed said, "One can never imagine Ethiopia without this sacred and great church." The charismatic prime minister further stated that the reason for focusing attention on the church's unity is that "Orthodox itself is a country".

Since taking office in April 2018, the 41-year-old head of state has wasted no time with efforts to unite his people at home and abroad despite religious, social and political affiliations.

But what does this unification mean for the Jamaican branches of the EOTC?




The actual unification took place "like a thief in the night" as described by one member of the local Ethiopian Orthodox community. "But, it will help to regain trust and integrity to the church and its members, of whom many have been in absence or inconsistently attending services due to the long-standing separation," he said.

The administrator of the local headquarters at 89 Maxfield Avenue, Kingston 13, Kes (Father) Wolde Dawit, is inviting the faithful and fellow leaders of the church to rally together in the name of national forgiveness and love in moving the church forward.

According to the resident priest in charge, Kes Gabre Selassie Fitzgerald, the international Ethiopian community has led the way through an exemplary demonstration of true church unity, and it is honourable to not just follow suit, but unite to regain the lost sheep.

The unity came on the brink of the 85th birthday of the late archbishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Jamaica and the western hemisphere, His Grace Abuna Yesehaq.

Some members refer to the unity as overdue, while others view it as divine intervention.

In 1992, one year after the schism began, the local EOTC ended up in a bitter court case that tarnished the faith and the faithful. The case ended in 2014 with a change of administration that saw a further disaffection.

However, the local church looks forward with renewed hope to building a stronger bond with its people. They hold to the conviction that God will "in all good things unite us and from all evil works, keep us apart".