Church History

DURING THE BIRTH OF CHRIST

“May the kings of Sheba and seba bring gifts” (ps.72:10)

Based on prophesy of King David on psalms 72:9-10, “may the Ethiopians bow down before him, and his enemies lick the dust! May the kings of Tarshish and Isles render him tribute, May the kings of Seba bring gifts! May all kings fall down before him”, when Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem of Judea during the reign of Herod, the wise men from the East came to Jerusalem “and going in to the house they saw the child with Mary his mother, and they fell down and worshiped him. Then opening their treasures, they offered him gifts, gold and frankincense and myrrh (mt. 2:1-11). According to Ethiopian tradition one among the kings that gave tribute to Jesus in Bethlehem is an Ethiopian king Bazen.

As the prophet Isaiah prophesized, ” A multitude of camels shall cover you, the young camels of midian and Ephah; all those from sheba shall come. They shall bring gold and frankin cense, and shall proclaim the praise of the Lord” (Is. 60:6) ,it is believed that the one who rendered gold tribute was the Ethiopian king. So, since Ethiopian has known Christ and has celebrated his birthday beginning from the time of his birth, the assertion of the church as an ancient one is appropriate.

FROM THE 1ST – 4 TH CENTURY

“Here is water! What prevents me not to be baptized” Acts 8:36. An Angel of the Lord Said to Philip “Rise and go towards the south to a desert road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza”. And he rose and went. And behold, an Ethiopian, a eunuch, a minister of Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, in charge of all her treasure, had come to Jerusalem to worship and was returning; seated in his chariot, he was reading the prophet Isaiah. And the spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.” So Philip ran to him and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and asked. “So you understand what you are reading?” And he said, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. The passage of the scripture which he was reading was this: As a sheep led to the slaughter or a lamb before its Shearer is dumb, so he opens not his mouth. In his humiliation justice was denied him. Who can describe his generation? For his life is taken up from the earth. And the eunuch said to Philip, “About whom does the prophet say this, about himself or about someone else?” Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with scripture he told him the good news of Jesus. And as they went along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me not to be baptized?” And Philip said,” If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he replied, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down in to the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. And when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught up Philip; and the eunuch saw him no more, and went on his way rejoining (Acts 8:26-39).

As the Apostle Luke reported, Christian Faith and baptism was introduced into Ethiopia in 41 AD, through Bakos, the eunuch of the Ethiopian Queen Candace. The Ethiopian Bakos is the first to introduce to the world the formula, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.” Unlike Jews and Muslims, who still are in difficulty to accept Jesus’ Son ship of God, he believed Jesus as the Son of God and taught this true faith to his people. Since then the Ethiopian Orthodox Church believes and teaches Jesus’ Son ship of God. Bakos, the first harvest of the Gospel during the apostolic era by embracing Christian faith, is a corner stone for the beliefs and order of worship of the Ethiopian Church. With his pilgrimage, Bakos fulfilled the obligations of Mosic and Gospel rules, and made his name and the name of his country mentioned in the Bible

As the ancient church historian Eusabious of cesarean reported, returning home, Bakos taught about Christ for his people what he heard form Philip. And the Ethiopian church was founded since this time. Since St. Philip is the godfather of the Ethiopian Orthodox church, the church remembers him by building a church and engraving a tablet of law in his name. The church also counts on in the power of his prayer and inters cession

In addition to St. Philip, according to church historians Rufinus and Socrates, the Apostles St. Mathew, St. Nathanael St. Bartholomew and St. Thomas evangelized in Nubian (Sudan) and in different districts of Ethiopia.

In the 4th century AD., as St. Paul testified the high priesthood of Jesus saying, ” For it was fitting that we should have such a high priest. holy, blameless, unstained, separated from sinners, exalted above the heavens” (Heb. 7:26), the Ethiopian church sent St. Frumentius Abba Salama to Alexandria to bring a high Priest that is from the line of ordination of the Apostles, appointees of the high priest Jesus. Saint Athnatiyos, the then patriarch of Alexandria, ordered Abba Salama himself and sent him the Ethiopia.

Even if Ethiopia embraces Christianity in the 1st Century Ad, it was given the bishopric chair, according to the rule of the Synod, in 330 AD. In the 4th century, during the reign of Abraha and Aşbaha, Christianity was preached in Ethiopia Officially by the bishop Abba Salama and it became the well established notional church that recognized worldwide. Since Abba Salama reviled the light of the Gospel throughout the country making his seat at Axam, he was called Abba Salama, lit, “Reviler of light”.

Since this time sacraments of the church began to be administered in their full form. Saint Frumentius appointed priests and deacons in order to help him spread the Gospel throughout the country. Especially he ordered Abraham, who was the high priest of the Jews, a bishop renaming him as Hazbe Qeddas. With the evangelization of Hazbe Qeddas the people of Noba, Saba, Nagran, Tagray, Amhara and Angot, Qeta, and Zebegdur believed in Christ, were baptized, and became Christians (Guidi 427-430). St. Frumentius has translated Holy Scriptures from Syraic, Hebrew and Greek in to Geez. He has changed the old lived writing style of sabaic to the present style from left to right. In addition, he added the sylabic orders from the 2nd to the 7th on the exiested single sylobic order.

After the time of Abba Selama until the beginning of the 20th century, only Egyptian bishops were coming to Ethiopia. However, in two instances in between, Abune Teklehaymanot and Abune Filippos were ordained bishops. Since Egyptian bishops were strange to the people, culture, and language of the country, their service was limited only in giving ordination. Other church affairs were performed by Ethiopian monks and scholars. So that, the Ethiopian church had and still has its own church order, caricalem and tradition.

Youths and Development

Youth in addition to the spiritual service they are active participant in the overall developmental actives of the church in monasteries, parish and other places.

The young generation has a vital role by believing whatever he want, by perspective in church songs, arts, drama, teaching children, expanding gospel, participating in sanitation, and other activities which are important for the overall activities of the church. In addition to that the young generation is playing its best practically by keeping the discipline of the church, helping the poor, construction the church and in any other activities require by the church. Even if there is a common practice which is given in all monasteries and churches Sunday schools, for instance we can look at the service which is being provided by the Sunday schools of Holy Trinity and meskaye hizunan Gedam.

 

  • When we look at the study which is being conducted on Yared songs to the young generation are providing spiritual song in the church during marriage events. Through such at they are enable a considerable number of participant conclude marriage at the cathedral/Gedam.
  • By establishing drama and art section enable the considerable number of dramas to be conducted in huge celebrations. Because of this they are playing their effort to expand the social and economical knowledge.
  • By participating in the diocese and developmental committee as a member is carrying out core activities.
  • In order the Sunday schools preserve the church moral assets and lead their lives in ethical and disciplined way, a discipline committee and a moral teachings has been given the young generation. The discipline committee has appeared and accepting  spiritual as well as psychological advice and they have organized the church and its community  to provide solution for the problem encountered. Because of this they are enabled to lead a good life based on the church doctrines.

Generally, those Sunday school have vital importance to Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church youth activities by providing educational and other tasks accordingly Sunday schools has carried out new developmental programs and exert their maximum effort for the countries development and activities.

Activities of the Youth/youth’s movement

The ancient and famous Ethiopian Orthodox Church is an owner of many history and heritages. The young generation as a responsibility to accept those heritages to preserve and transfer the next generation. Accordingly, in 1930 Addis Ababa Sunday schools have the responsibility of their fathers and have exerted an effort to actualize the assets and values of the church. In order to nurture a generation who have a responsibility of discharging heritages Sunday schools in the last years has exerted everything, by accepting directives from the diocese, with their full knowledge, finance and time to the high effort they exert they are able to wake for the gospel preaching activities and they have organized the church education to be provide through a modern way.

Furthermore, they have exerted their maximum effort so that the young generation could be able to enjoy spiritual teachings. For that purpose courses, seminars, trainings, trips have been several times prepared and situation has been facilitated so that religions followers can enjoy those. In addition to the spiritual service of the church monasteries as well as parishes which are administered under the diocese highly participated in the overall activities of the church.

Generally, the young generation played its best by performing different services of church songs, art, drama, teaching children, gospel expansion, sanitation and other activities required for the church, providing care, modern secretarial service, furthermore the youth is exerting his maximum effort so that to enable the church to have a source of income. Even if Sunday schools are being provided in all big monasteries and parishes, we can observe some of the activities which are performed by the cathedral Sunday school of the holy trinity as follows:

  • When we look at the study which is being conducted on saint Yared songs to the young generation are providing spiritual song in the church during marriage events. Through such at they are enable a considerable number of participant conclude marriage at the cathedral/Gedam.
  • By establishing drama and art section enable the considerable number of dramas to be conducted in huge celebrations. Because of this they are playing their effort to expand the social and economical knowledge.
  • By participating in the diocese and developmental committee as a member is carrying out core activities.
  • In order the Sunday schools preserve the church moral assets and lead their lives in ethical and disciplined way, a discipline committee and a moral teachings has been given the young generation. The discipline committee has appeared and accepting spiritual as well as psychological advice and they have organized the church and its community to provide solution for the problem encountered. Because of this they are enabled to lead a good life based on the church doctrines.

Generally, those Sunday school have vital importance to Ethiopian Orthodx Tewahedo Church youth activities by providing educational and other tasks accordingly Sunday schools has carried out new developmental programs and exert their maximum effort for the countries development and activities.

Sunday School – History

In the history of Ethiopian Orthodox Church Sunday schools for youth was begun to be founded commencing from 1936 young followers who used to attend their religious education previously in the holy trinity cathedral school had established an association named “Trinity Association” the association was established for male followers only. However after some years the cathedral administration young female followers was found it necessary to establish their own association apart from the already established male association. To this effect females who used to visit the cathedral for the purpose of prior and preaching gathered and established an association named “Kirstos Association”.

When the members of those associations began to enjoy a better religious awareness as well as discipline, members of the associations especially female followers began to study the church spiritual songs and commenced to sing in the church after Kurban. This was an interesting event for church clergy and servants and began to encourage the founded associations. The objective of the establish association was the following.

  • To learn and preach Christianity doctrine basic objectives.
  • To carryout humanitarian activities.
  • To preserve Christianity national culture.
  • Facilitate young female followers in order to enable provide service without any fears and to preach the community. Because of this providing training to the female church servants.

As it has been mentioned on the above since the spiritual song of the female followers began to be enjoyed as a new event their activity initiates other churches to do the same.Starting from the establishment of Miscaye hzunan Church spiritual service was able to attract the attention of Teferi Mekonene and Etegemenen students. Because of this in every Sunday a considerable amount of students began to attend spiritual service at the church. Some of the followers also began to provide a voluntary service for the church. In addition to that, by developing unity between the students and monasteries, the young followers request to be established a Sunday school which provides sculpture education for the interested once. Following this the very famous Sunday school called “Temero Mastemar” was founded in 1939.

Starting from the time Temero Mastermar association was established the necessary spiritual service is being provided to the members as well as to the community. Next to that trinity spiritual college was established in 1942 gospel messengers founded Sunday school. It was at that time Mahbere Hawariat Ferehaimanot an association based in Asmara being established.

The Sunday school associations expand to Taeka Negest Bata Lemariam and St. Gabriel, to Genet Tsige Menagesha St. Giorgis as well as to other big monasteries and churches found in Addis. Beyond that it expanded to the Teklay Gizat cities and districts holding the name and title of the church and with a special neck names. The association of young followers keeps up to 1974 the present Sunday school was established as it has stated above by young female and male followers, bishops and Archbishops, clergy and preachers who accept the objective of the schools. Likesilanat Abba melektu later named as His Holiness Abune Tewofilos who was an administrator of Holy Trinity Cathedral in 1936 accepted the objective of the Sunday schools and provide all the necessary support for the expansion of the Sunday schools. In addition to that he has exerted the required effort to keep the sustainability of the Sunday school. However, since those associations were established in Addis Ababa City gradually, it was mandatory to create line of communication within the church. At that time historical treasures revealed that a central office for the Sunday school was founded as the secretariat office. This central office used to coordinate young followers spiritual associations up to 1965 in limited way.

Starting from 1965 it was developed to youth affairs department. In such situation, in 1966 young spiritual followers association established general assembly following the revolution being observed at that time. The general assembly of the young spiritual associations have contributed most in the black history of the Derge Regime to the history of the church. The general assembly showed its brave act regardless of the harsh system. We can dare to say that the general assembly has strengthened the department.

Generally, within strong collaboration of the assembly held the department, the present Sunday school as the former young followers spiritual association secured is legal personality based on the church constitution enacted 1970 and having fully recognized expand in to the whole Ethiopia up to 1974.However, commencing from 1974 February month the Derge Regiem created an internal influence stating that the association resembles to New Ethiopia youth Association and through the wise decision of the Holy Synod Leadership their name was changed and renamed as Sunday school which keeps up to today. It was from that time that the department was named as Sunday school organizing department.