In accordance with Ethiopian Orthodox Church Constitution (Kaleawdi) chapter six, Article 38 up to 45, next to the secretariat office, it is essential for the unity of the church to establish a diocese and working to actualize its church doctrine in line with the church structure.
As it has been stipulated in the constitution of the church (kalewadi) Article forty three, no one except “The secretariat office of the bishop is in charge of administrating of the monasteries which are located under the diocese, spiritual assemblies which are established in different level as well as to the district churches”. The English term “diocese” comes from a Greek term ‘dioikesis to mean to a subject to the jurisdiction of a bishop.
Diocese was first implemented while the holy apostles divided the holy doctrine of the Lord and began to preach. The holy apostles have exerted all what is the required to teach the doctrine regardless of the problem they face. Through the diocese they were assigned, they have built a church, teach followers, appoint priests and Deacon and preach the holy sculpture. This can be testified through the noble acts and teachings of St. Peter In Ronne diocese, John in the small Asian diocese, Thomas in India diocese, Markos in Eskindirya.
Through the good will and for sighted vision of Ethiopian Emperor and people the first title of bishop was given in ferminatos diocese in Eskindria as “Bishop of Axum as the whole Ethiopia”. Then after, Ethiopian church has stayed for more than one thousand years under Eskindria church Holy Synod as one diocese. At different times since more than onebishops had been appointed to serve Ethiopian church, it indicate that there were more than one diocese. During the era of emperor Zera Yaqob, in 1438 two bishops came to Ethiopia being appointed by the Egyptian Patriarch John the 14th. The bishops were Aba Michael for Amhara, Abune Gebriel to Shewa Diocese.
During the era of emperor Yohanes, in 1874, four bishops came from Egypt: Abune Petros had been appointed as an Ethiopian arch bishop, Abune Matiwos Shewa bishop, Abune Lukas of Gojam, Abune Markos of Bigemdir diocese. In a book written by Tsehafi Teazaz “Tarike zemen Zedagmawi Minilik” it had been stated the diocese of Abune Matiyos “Shewa beyond Beshelo,Yeju, Wadla, Delantan, Dawnten, Girameketen, Begemdir Mejan, Sedin, Fegoran, Chihran, Dembian, Armachiho, Mereban, Janfekeran, Janwaron, Kolawegera, Tegedie, Welkayt”.
During the era of emperor Hailesilassie, while Ethiopia gets its first bishop, the proclamation enacted Article one “the arch bishop of the whole Ethiopia shall be assumed by Abune Kerlos, south was given to Abune Sawros, west to Abune Abraham, east to Abune Petros, north to Abune Yishak, to be administered”.
This proclamation stated in detail the diocese region of each bishop rests and their seat town.
During the Italian aggression, the Egyptian Abune Kerlos returned back to his mother country and Ethiopian sages and bishops gathered and have appointed Abune Abraham to be an arch bishop and other five bishops. Following this, new diocese had been established. Abune Yohanes had been appointed to be a bishop of Shoa, while Abune Markos of Eritrea, Abune Matiyos of Wollo, Abune Gebrial of Gondar and Abune Lukas of Welega.
Ethiopian church began to establish it’s over diocese when she get patriarch from Ethiopia.
In 1943 the first Ethiopian patriarch was his holiness Abune Baseleyus; Abune Tadios for Gure, Abune Gabriel for Wollo, Abune Markos for Eritrea, Abune Philipos for Israel, Abune Gorgorios for Kefa were appointed to be bishops. This indicates that new diocese were founded. In 1948 Tigray province was established at the level of diocese and bishop was appointed.
According to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church history, the number of diocese increases from time to time. As Abune Gorgorios stated in his book entitled “the history of Ethiopian church” the number of diocese in 1974 reached to nineteen. At present as the book written by patriarch secretariat office stated in a written document entitled “the history of Ethiopian church from the birth of Christ up to 2000” there are a total of 48 diocese out of which 40 are locally while 8 are abroad.
Duties of the diocese
The diocese carried out activities representing the church to preserve the religious asset and values, to alleviate misuse of assets of the church starting from Christ, to expand gospel, to provide support for monasteries and churches, construct churches, facilitate a situation so that the followers receive the appropriate service, to preserve the legal rights of the church to enable the service of the church smooth and well organized, to administer clergy administration and service in accordance with the church rules and the law of the state, to preserve and maintain the assets of the church and property in accordance with the law and procedure, to enable the followers receive the appropriate church service are some of the core activities of the diocese.
What is the importance of strengthning the Diocese?
- Apostleactivity is guides the church activity the procedure and its system is apostles our fathers have preached gospel and expand the religion by establishing diocese. Because of this it is religious duty to establish firms which provide Christian service and doctrine in a strengthen way.
- To preserve the church Dogma, Kenona and Tuwfit in a smooth way. The church Doguma assets and values through smooth reserve fund to be used for churches, clergy and followers in making collaborating.
- To strengthen the unity of the church and cooperation by accepting a regulation from the diocese to govern churches which are found in Addis Ababa Diocese. Because of this a central body is necessary to be established to coordinate, collaborate and create ties so that to work churches jointly.
- To create smooth situation in the overall activities of economical relation of the church. The religious relationships which are to be created among the church for any other social and economical cooperation, churches cannot work representing the holy synods. This is because the relationship of communication should be done through the bishop. In order to organize the relationship and keep its grade as well as make it efficient a diocese which works in equality is required.
- To support monasteries as well as churches which are found in rural and urban: in order to support and provide the necessary help to the monasteries as well parishes which are scattered it should be in coordinated and smooth way by facilitating a situation for the support provision in a central and organized way. To this effect an organ who follow up the activity is required. This organ should coordinate the contribution of the diocese, establish a close tie within the patriarch office and execute the activities. Because of this the concerned body based on the church constitution is the diocese.
- To coordinate various services: intending to bring unity and cooperation for the church service considerable number of organized associations, firms as well as voluntary undertakings are available. Those associations and units are below the limits and scopes being intended because of this an organ or body who coordinate and provide support is necessary. In order to make the services of those associations smooth, successful and in line with the church rules, there is no better organization or firm than the diocese unless the diocese organize and install its service line in appropriate way the services and activities of those diocese will be unsuccessful.
- To bring Ethiopia people to the church: it is one of our responsibility to bring Ethiopian or be it non Ethiopians to the church by preaching the gospel and baptizing them. Those individuals should accept the church after believing its doctrine and procedure. It should not be limited only by bringing those individuals to the church rather it is important to teach the doctrine of the church and actualize what is the required. In order to realize this it is necessary to have an organ which communicates among the monastery, parish church and schools as well as holy synods. For this purpose it is important to strengthen the diocese.
- To establish monasteries and training centers as well as to administer them: in order to announce the new generation with the monastery life and its procedure to make prayers to get holy water and forget yourself from the stress, anxiety and unrest of this world, it is important to have and administer monasteries and establishing training centers which have a relation the same. For this effect, a diocese which administers and supervises the overall activities of clergy, deacon and spiritual teachers is necessary