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Ethiopian Orthodox membership


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#1 Daniel Smith

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 06:16 AM

Although may stand out a bit, is the clergy of the ethiopian orthodox church generally welcoming of white converts?

I admire the spirituality and pieties of the Ethiopian Orthodox and am super impressed by their monastic life, which has somehow existed in a virtual vaccuum since the 5th century! Literally, it's like the desert fathers out there! If monasticism is a church's barometer, then they have got it!

#2 Theodora E.

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 02:31 PM

One thing to note: at least at the Ethiopian Orthodox parish in my area, the services are in a language the average Ethiopian Orthodox layperson does not understand. We have several families of Ethiopian Orthodox who are members of my OCA parish, specifically because they wanted services in a language they (and their children) could understand (English).

#3 Christopher Dombrowski

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Posted 25 May 2009 - 10:11 PM

There is an Ethiopian Orthodox church rather close to where I live. The vicar is a kindly man who is very welcoming of outsiders. I dropped by once and there were two men standing outside of the church to welcome any who were arriving, and they were also very welcoming of us. So given only one direct experience with the EOTC, I would say that they are very welcoming to strangers. This may vary though.

Most of the Ethiopian churches in the U.S. are in a certain way schismatic in relation to the mainstream Oriental Orthodox churches. They recognize (for some reason unknown to me) an exiled man who was deposed by the holy synod in Addis Ababa named Mekorios as the legitimate patriarch of the EOTC. The church within Ethiopia recognizes Abune Paulos as the legitimate Patriarch, as do the rest of the Oriental Orthodox churches. Both of these groups have anathematized each other, so while the Ethiopian synod in Exile is one in faith with the OOC, it has not eccelsiastically been part of the OOC for a few decades now.

Also, Ethiopian Orthodox churches in their actual ethnic quality may be one of the more foreign of the Oriental Orthodox churches, 2nd only to the Armenians I suppose. If you are looking for an OO church that is moreso looking to accomodate to non-ethnic people, I would recommend trying a Coptic, Syrian, or Indian church before an Ethiopian or Armenian one.

#4 Kris

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Posted 26 May 2009 - 12:32 AM

Although may stand out a bit, is the clergy of the ethiopian orthodox church generally welcoming of white converts?


You will find few people on earth more hospitable and welcoming than the Ethiopian community.

#5 Mary

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Posted 26 May 2009 - 03:01 AM

Also, Ethiopian Orthodox churches in their actual ethnic quality may be one of the more foreign of the Oriental Orthodox churches, 2nd only to the Armenians I suppose. If you are looking for an OO church that is moreso looking to accomodate to non-ethnic people, I would recommend trying a Coptic, Syrian, or Indian church before an Ethiopian or Armenian one.


And be careful with the Indian ones, there's one group, I think the Marthoma church, isn't truly orthodox anymore. They intercommune with the anglican church, but have broken off communion with the syrian orthodox.

And... I'll be going to Ethiopia for the first time as orthodox, so I have a mind to attend some services and find out for myself, how Ethiopian orthodox receive foreign converts! That should be fun. =)

In Christ,
Mary.

#6 Ryan

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Posted 26 May 2009 - 03:54 AM

And... I'll be going to Ethiopia for the first time as orthodox, so I have a mind to attend some services and find out for myself, how Ethiopian orthodox receive foreign converts! That should be fun. =)


Ethiopians I have met tend to be very friendly and welcoming in all aspects that I have seen (though I have not actually attended their church services.) Also, their food is highly yummy. That said, we are not in communion with their church, and it's not a good idea to approach them as if we were.

#7 Daniel Smith

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Posted 26 May 2009 - 04:09 AM

Does anyonew have anything to say about their monastic communities? From what I understand the monks are afforded a bit more freedom to do what they deem necessary than Western/ Orthodox MOnasteries...

#8 Mary

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Posted 26 May 2009 - 06:46 PM

Ethiopians I have met tend to be very friendly and welcoming in all aspects that I have seen (though I have not actually attended their church services.) Also, their food is highly yummy. That said, we are not in communion with their church, and it's not a good idea to approach them as if we were.


True, the Ethiopians themselves, are very friendly and hospitable, and the food is totally delicious. My other options on Sundays, would be to go to the protestant church I grew up in, or stay home.... So... if I do find some orthodox people, I'll go with them. I know we're not in communion, so I'm not going to try to commune. But I do want to see a service. Not that I'll understand anything, I hear it's all in the ancient language of Ge'ez and no Amharic. That does me no good. But it'll be interesting to hear some ancient chanting...

#9 Christopher Dombrowski

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Posted 27 May 2009 - 11:07 PM

And be careful with the Indian ones, there's one group, I think the Marthoma church, isn't truly orthodox anymore. They intercommune with the anglican church, but have broken off communion with the syrian orthodox.


To go even further, there are actually two factions of the Oriental Orthodox in India. One is an autonomous archdiocese of the Syriac Orthodox Church that is known as the Malankara Syriac Orthodox Church, whereas there is another one that is autocephalous that is known as the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church (sometimes referred to as the "Indian Orthodox Church"). These two groups have actually mutually excommunicated each other, so Mar Thoma is not the only group not in communion with the SOC and thus some not in communion with the SOC are actually Oriental Orthodox.

#10 Theodora E.

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Posted 28 May 2009 - 02:01 AM

Something rather interesting about Ethiopian Eucharistic discipline I was told by the Ethiopian women in my parish. Between the age of about 12 and 60-65, the only time the average Ethiopian Orthodox layperson would take Communion is before they are married (it's required for marriage in the church). When someone turns 60-65, then they do Confession and then take Communion for the remainder of their lives. I was told if someone between 12 and 60-65 wanted to take Communion, they would pretty much have to give up "the world."

The women told me that when they asked the priest back home if they could do Confession/Communion as a younger person, the priest said, "Why? You'd just sin again."

I was told this was standard practice at both Ethiopian parishes both in Ethiopia and abroad.

#11 Ryan

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Posted 28 May 2009 - 03:08 AM

From what I've read, the Ethiopian church is also divided between the "official" church and a "Synod in Exile." Apparently the split arose after the Derg-backed patriarch was deposed and some refused to recognize the new patriarch as legitimate.


The women told me that when they asked the priest back home if they could do Confession/Communion as a younger person, the priest said, "Why? You'd just sin again.


If this is really standard practice, I'd have to say that they really missed the point of confession and communion.

"Repentance opens the heavens for man, takes him to Paradise, overcomes the devil. Have you sinned? Do not despair! If you sin every day, then offer repentance every day! When there are rotten parts in old houses, we replace the parts with new ones, and we do not stop caring for the houses. In the same way, you should reason for yourself: if today you have defiled yourself with sin, immediately clean yourself with repentance." - St. John Chrysostom

#12 Daniel Smith

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Posted 29 May 2009 - 04:54 AM

This is not the view of the EOTC. http://www.prairiene...moges/basic.htm
4 THE HOLY COMMUNION

The Ethiopian Church believes that the Holy Communion is both a Sacrament and a Sacrifice offered for our salvation, an unbloody sacrifice. As a sacrament it is that august mystery through which we eat the blessed flesh of our Lord, and drink His precious blood under the form of bread and wine. It is called also the Eucharist, the Lord's Table, the Body and Blood of Christ. The bread and wine which are blessed and consecrated by the word and help of the Lord and by the hand of the priest are united with His Body and Blood and truly changed, the bread is the Body of the son of God, and the wine is truly the Blood of the Son of God. Cor. 16, 17; Jn. xx 28. That which we receive is for a memorial of His death, for the forgiveness of sin, for the strengthening of faith and for eternal life. Mat. xxvi 26, 27, Jn. vi. 54. But he who eats and drinks when he ought not, eats and drinks condemnation to himself; it does not profit him.

It is our Lord Jesus Christ Himself who blesses and changes the bread and wine. By His word and grace, when the priest who has received authority blesses the bread, it becomes truly the Body of the Lord, and when he blesses the wine, it becomes truly the Blood of the Lord.
Before receiving the Holy Eucharist the soul must be free from sins, be washed in the water of repentance. What is necessary to prepare the body to receive the Eucharist is purity of heart and the works of faith, love, gentleness and mercy; outward fasting alone does not prepare the body with honor. But nevertheless, the ordinances of the church command those who intend to communicate to fast beforehand, taking no food and no liquid. The sick are exempted from the requirement of fasting and Eucharist may be celebrated for the faithful in time of sickness when they desire it.
Communion is administered in both kinds. Immediately after the reception the deacon gives water to those who have received in order that they may rinse their mouths. The wine is made before each service by the deacon from dried grapes and water.
The sacrament is reserved in the Tabot because occasional reservation is in use f.e. the last sacrament is administered in the homes of the sick people. In brief the Church's faith is that our Lord Jesus is truly and actually present in the Sacrament of Eucharist, the faithful partake of the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, get the spiritual food which helps them to grow in grace, receive remission of sins, abide in Christ and Christ abides in them, get holy companionship with Christ and fellow worshippers and with all the Church on earth, are given true life in this world and eternal life. Bells ring and believers prostrate themselves when the Holy Eucharist is in procession. When the flesh is divided and given to the believers, every part of it even the smallest part is perfect body of the Lord, the same with the blood. It is also believed that once the bread and wine are changed they remain flesh and blood till they are completely consumed. Communion is consecrated and given on the same day. Believers go and communicate in the church. In case of the very sick the priest takes communion to those who are near; for those who are far he consecrates Communion in a tent.

#13 Salaam Yitbarek

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Posted 09 July 2009 - 02:02 PM

I rarely log on to this board, so I've only just noticed this thread.

I'm just another Ethiopian Orthodox layman, but I'd like to add to and correct some what's been written here.

First, on Daniel's question, I have seen and know of white converts. I've seen them welcomed - I haven't seen them rejected! But of course the extent of welcoming of guests may vary from parish to parish.

On the issue of language of services, the situation of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (EOC) is similar to most other Orthodox, Oriental and Eastern, churches. There's the ancient language - Ge'ez - and the vernacular - often Amharic, Tigrigna, or sometimes Oromiffa. Most services are in a mixture of Ge'ez and the vernacular, and the ratio between the two differs from parish to parish. But usually the vernacular dominates and most people understand the little Ge'ez there is, so there's no problem there. Besides, the Gospel readings and homilies are always in the vernacular. Finally, many EOC churches in the West display the liturgy in Ge'ez, Amharic, and English via Powerpoint during the service, again. By the way, I've seen this in Coptic churches, too; in their case Coptic, Arabic, and English.

As for service in English... It would seem inevitable, as with the other Orthodox churches in English-speaking countries. However, the EOC will have great difficulties with this and other issues because it is, relatively speaking, administratively backward, and so has all the constraints associated with that. Including the fact that many priests are not well educated as priests, let alone in English. This will be a big problem in the future.

Also, compared with other immigrants, Ethiopians do not pass on their language to the next generation very well. I'd say that a good 90% of Ethiopians born in North America do not speak their parents language.

So from both sides - the Church's readiness to provide services in English and the congregation's retention of their language - the EOC is losing the battle.

About the schism with the Church in Ethiopia... In brief, when the current government overthrew the previous one in 1991, it deposed (or strongly suggested that the synod depose) the previous Patriarch, who has now ended up in the USA. For this reason, some established a synod in the USA with this exiled Patriarch at the head.

You can see that there are politics at play. Just to be clear, all (and I don't mean to exaggerate) Ethiopians hated the previous regime, the Dergue. But the Patriarch at that time was not seen as a government appointee, but more of a synod appointee. Unfortunately, most Ethiopians don't like this government either, and this Patriarch is clearly more of a government appointee, although of course the synod officially chose him. We'll work things out eventually.

I would say that at least half the EOC churches in the West are not part of the 'exiled' synod. Most simply ignore the issue (call themselves 'neutral'), and there a few that are officially part of the synod in Ethiopia.

But for all practical purposes, there is no administrative hierarchy here in the West. Again, because of the administrative weakness of the EOC, local congregations control most everything in reality.

There are no differences of dogma between the synods.

On communion, what Theodora was told is a cultural practice that the church has so far been unable to overcome, despite making progress. Official church teaching is the same as any other Orthodox church. But in reality, culture-based practices continue to exist.

#14 Amde

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Posted 27 November 2009 - 10:42 PM

I agree with Ss. Salaam

Our community has a few entrenched local customs that exist in certain parts of Ethiopia. This of course is not good since this leads to inaccurate understanding of our community (church if you will) even among us and gives a poor example of what we really teach and believe in Ethiopian Christian tradition as given to people by people who mean well.

Remember; Ethiopia has had 2000 years without the disturbances found in the West and most of the East albeit some internal issues that helped to 'corner' many believers creating periods of isolation at home and in the broader Chirstian Orthodox world.

Like our Ss Salaam said we believe and teach what is taught everywhere regarding the Holy Communion. We have no 'church' teaching referring to age and communing. In my parish we commune at all ages if you are prepared properly as with all orthodox.

Sorry for the mis-information.

I will add that the laguage we use is ancient Ge'ez. The Liturgy is done with almost no Amharic in parishes in and outside Ethiopia . As Ss Salaam said the readings of scripture and the Holy Gosple is done in Amharic. Preaching is also done in Amharic.

In the United States, England, Canada, Latin America, West Indies and the Caribbean the Ethiopian Orthodox Church was established over 50 years ago to serve the local populations which were of course English speaking. These Ethiopian Orthodox Churches were (are) missionary during the time of HH Abuna Basilios, HE Abuna Tewoflos and HIM Emperor Haili Selassie.

Today these parishes are very organized and well administered to. The membership and clergy are in the thousands. These parishes stretch from New York, Kingston, Toronto and London having no connection to the 'national political strife in Ethiopia' remain and continue to enjoy harmony with the church and true patriarchate in Ethiopia and do to this the entire oriental communion as well as good communication and interaction with Eastern Orthodox.

We have also many parishes now that have returned back to the true patriarchate and many more are working out the details of such which I have first hand knowledge of. So work is underway. We are one Ethiopian Church and one Orthodox faith. We are working and praying hard to stand as one in this reality.

#15 Amde

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Posted 01 December 2009 - 06:47 PM

I agree with Salaam Yitbarek. Please note however that the Ethiopian Orthodox Church translated all 14 of its Anaphora's (liturgies) into English over 50 years ago along with all the key liturgical books and prayers. The Ethiopian Church has been since and is still holding full English liturgical services in America and many countries outside Ethiopia.

Thanks Daniel in your effort to express what the Ethiopian Church actually teaches regarding Holy Communion.

WE all must be careful listening to people who claim to follow church teachings. For example various Greek associates of mine express all kinds of strange beliefs that they hold true to. One of them believes that heaven and Hell are all in how we live on earth now? Of course this is not what the Geek Church teaches at all.




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