About Our Church

Welcome to the ethiopian orthodox tewahedo church in jamaica

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The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church was established in Jamaica on Saturday May 23, 1970 by the then Archimandrite Abba Laike Mariam Mandefro, who later became Archbishop Yesehaq; in charge of the Ethiopian Orthodox church in the Western Hemisphere. This establishment came about because of an request from brethdrens of the Rastafarian Movement and other Jamaicans who considerd themselves scattered sons and daughters of Africa. Many request were made to the Mother Church in Ethiopia, until finally Emperor Haile Selassie I, discussed the matter with His Holiness Abuna Basilios and the decision was made to send the Archimandrite

 

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church was established in Jamaica amidst great public fanfare on May 23, 1970 on the  premises of the Kingston Parish Church by Archimandrite and Comos Abba Laike Mariam Mandefro. On that historic day, over 600 members were baptized. The first celebration of the Holy Eucharist took place the following day at the same venue attended by officials of other Christian Churches in Jamaica

 

In 1978, the Church was incorporated by an Act of Parliament. At about this same time period, ground was broken for the first substantial building of the Church at 89 Maxfield Avenue, Maxfield Park, the headquarters of the Church in Jamaica

In the Church social outreach and educational programmes, we have constructed a small 'Home for the Aged'  at the church headquarters which is able to accommodate seven of our 'golden agers'. Theres also three Early Childhood facilities geared towards our children educational development.

Our Church History

The beginning of Ethiopian Christianity could possibly be traced to the apostolic era. The Book of Acts gives the account of the Ethiopian Eunuch of Queen Candace, who was first evangelized and then baptized by the apostle Philip (Acts 8:26-36). Eusebius, the great Church historian, refers to the Ethiopian Eunuch as “the first fruit of Christianity in the whole world.”  In addition, Rufinus followed by Theodret, Socrates and Sozomen also recorded this remarkable event. Nevertheless, it was not until the 4th century that Christianity became the official religion of the Aksumite Empire. This period also saw the inauguration of the Bishopric See and administration of the sacraments.

This is because St. Athanasius of Alexandria consecrated St. Frementius as the first Bishop of Ethiopia during the reign of Emperors Ezana and Syzana (also called Abraha and Atsbaha). King Ezana removed from his coins the sign of the moon and replaced it with the sign of the cross. By doing so, he became “the first sovereign in the world to engrave the sign of the cross on coins.” In A.D. 356 the Arian Emperor Constantinos wrote to the king of Aksum requesting that the Orthodox bishop Frementius as “a corrupter of true Christianity be sent back to the Roman Empire.” Obviously, he wanted the Ethiopian King to become an Arian, but his effort was failed.

St. Frementius came to be known by the Ethiopians as Abba Selama, which means, “the Father of Peace” and Kesate Berhan meaning, “the Revealer of Light”. Moreover, as the first bishop of Ethiopia, he was given the title Abune, meaning “our father,” as an appellation carried henceforth by all primates of Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Orthodox Church accepted the three Ecumenical Councils Nicaea (A.D. 325), Constantinople (A.D. 381) and Ephesus (A.D. 431). Therefore, the Nicene-Constantinople creed has become the symbol of our faith.

 

Our Creed (Prayer of Faith)

We believe in one God, the Lord, the Father Almighty, maker of the heavens and the earth and of all things visible and invisible.

We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Only-begotten Son of the Father, who was with him before the creation of the world: Light of Light, true God from true God, begotten not made, equal with the Father in his Godhead: By whom all things were made, but without him was not anything made, neither in heaven nor on earth; who for us human-beings and for our salvation came down from heaven, and was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and Mary, of the holy Virgin Mary.  He was made man and was crucified for us in the days of Pontius Pilate; he suffered, died, was buried, and rose from the dead on the third day as it is written in the Holy Scriptures.  He ascended with glory into heaven, sat at the right hand of his Father, and will come again with glory to judge the living and the dead; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father, we worship and glorify him with the Father and the Son; who spoke by the prophets; and we believe in one holy, universal, apostolic Church.  We believe in one baptism for the remission of sin; and await the resurrection of the dead and the life to come, world without end. Amen.

The life of the Ethiopian Church was further strengthened by the coming of the Nine Saints, who came from the Byzantine Empire (479 A.D.). They translated various sacred texts from Greek and Syriac into Ge`ez, spread the Gospel and introduced monastic life. The Ethiopian Church entered a new era during the 6th century, which is marked with the rise of St. Yared, the founder of the Ethiopic Hymnody. The time between the 4th and the 7th century A.D. was a time when remarkable religious activities were undertaken. Ethiopia is considered as the center of Christianity in the Horn of Africa, which preserved its own Christian heritage and history, and became the symbol of independence throughout centuries.

The Church Doctrine

The doctrinal teaching of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is firmly grounded in the five pillars of mystery, namely:

Mystery of the Holy Trinity
Mystery of Incarnation
Mystery of Baptism
Mystery of Holy Communion, and
Mystery of Resurrection.


5.1 The Mystery of the Holy Trinity: 

The Mystery of the Holy Trinity is the belief in the Triune God and is the core of Christian faith. This doctrine is a mystery since it could never be known unless revealed by God. “No one knows the Son except the Father and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Matthew 11:27). The One God in whom we believe, as is one in divinity and three as distinct persons. The Ethiopian Church accepts this teaching as absolutely central to its theology and spirituality. "There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one" (1 John 5:7).

5.2 The Mystery of the Incarnation: 

The Mystery of the Incarnation is the saving entrance of God into human history. The main reason for the incarnation is because our disease needed a physician (Luke 19:10), our darkness needed illumination (Matthew 4:12-17; John 8:12), and our captivity needed a redeemer (Galatian 5:1). Thus, the Creedal confession reads, “For us men and for our salvation the Word of God came down from heaven, and by the power of the Holy Spirit became incarnate of the Virgin Mary and was made man.” The Ethiopian Orthodox Church upholds the miaphysite Christology of St. Cyril of Alexandria: “One United Incarnate Nature of God the Son.” In other words, when the two natures, “humanity and divinity,” united, Christ thus became one person and one nature from two natures. The union of the Word of God and humanity took place in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Therefore because of the incarnation, all the attributes of the flesh can be given to the Word of God and vice versa.

Due to this perfect union, which took place without division, separation, confusion and mixture, we can no longer speak of two natures. The Johannine prologue says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” (Jn 1:14) Thus, Christ is truly human and truly divine. Theologically, this happened through communicatio idiomatum – the exchange of properties. As St. Athanasius of Alexandria notes, “The Word was made man in order that we might be made divine.” This in turn makes possible the divinization of humanity, which enables us to become partakers of the divine nature of God (2 Pet. 1:4).

 

5.3 The Mystery of the Baptism: 

The mystery of baptism is the main entrance into the Church and participation in its sacramental grace. It is called mystery because we receive the invisible grace of spiritual adoption through the visible performances of the sacrament. “He that believes and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” (Mark 16:16; John 19:34-35; Acts 2:38) Being the sacrament of initiation into Christian faith, Baptism is performed only once and never repeated (Ephesus 4:4-7; John 3:3-8).

5.4 The Mystery of the Holy Communion: 

Christ instituted the sacrament of Holy Communion during the Last Supper on Maundy Thursday. Our Lord Jesus Christ commands the disciples to remember His sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection in their Eucharistic celebration. In Matthew 26:26-30; Luke 22:19 St. Paul also says, "For as often as you eat this bread, and drink the cup, you do show the Lord`s death till He comes" (1Corinthian 11:26). Because man does not offer it to God, but God to humankind, the Eucharist is a sacrament through which we are far off from the dominance of sin and attain to communion with God (John 6:53-57). The Eucharist stands at the heart of the early Church*s faith and life. Subsequently, a sacrament became a meeting point on which all the issues of theology converge.

5.5 The Mystery of the Resurrection: 

The Mystery of the Resurrection is the mystery of the eternal life in the world to come after our bodily resurrection from dead.  This happens at the glorious Second Coming of Christ. Just as every seed must decay first, and then germinate (John 12:24; 1 Corinthian 15:26), so also we all will die and then rise up again to enjoy the eschatological hope of the Kingdom. The Church’s belief in our resurrection is based on the triumphant resurrection of Christ, the first fruit of our resurrection (1 Corinthian 15:20-22). The concluding phrase of the Creed affirms; “And we believe in the resurrection of the dead.”