From Battersea to Addis Ababa

Why 2007 was a landmark year for the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in the UK

Today, by the grace of God, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has two branches in London: the Reese-Adbarat St. Mary of Debre Tsion church in Battersea and St. Mary of Tserha Tsion.

The two churches are directly under the umbrella of the Mother Church in Ethiopia. Each Church has a parish council that looks after the administration, chaired by the priest in charge.

By the grace of God, the Holy Synod in Ethiopia established the church in London during the 1970s for our western-born Caribbean and Ethiopian brothers, sisters and sons and daughters of the Diaspora. Our churches have been serving the community in the UK ever since.

Of course, anyone is welcome to join our services and we would like to take this opportunity to invite you to join us. See our website for more details.

The Mother Church in Ethiopia supports our church with much love and great interest. To aid its development and further expansion, members of the Holy Synod of bishops, as well as clergymen and scholars, have been regular visitors to the UK from Ethiopia, leading and participating in services and enhancing the growth of both branches.

Perhaps the single most important event in the history of the UK church occurred in 1979 when a member of the Holy Synod, His Grace Archbishop Yeshaq, consecrated four western-born deacons to serve it for the first time in this country.

By the blessings of God, our membership has grown immensely since then, so in order to serve the fast-growing Ethiopian community a second parish was established, St. Mary of Tsion, in Central London at the end of the 1980s. It was established for the benefit of English speakers and the Caribbean brothers.

Soon afterwards, three western-born deacons were invited to Ethiopia to further develop and expand their spiritual services. They stayed in the monastery of St. Gabriel in Zewai, also known as the Zewai clergy training centre.

On the January 28, 1988, the three deacons were consecrated to the office of priesthood at St. Mary's Church by the Patriarch His Holiness the late Abbune Teklehaimanot, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The Holy Synod then gave them a mandate to return to the UK and spread the Orthodox Tewahedo Faith to the lost sons and daughters.

Today, one of the outstanding features of our church, is that services are conducted in both Geeze (the ancient liturgical church language) and English.

Following our tireless endeavours to buy our church building, this year, not only marks the 30th anniversary of our first church, Reese Adbarat St. Mary of Debre Tsion, but also the year in which we finally acquired it.

But we still have a lot to pay and there remains plenty of work to be done. We also have plans for a school, for our children, where they can learn about our Christian tradition, history and culture in a way suitable to their age and experience. Finally, we aim to continue carrying out regular visits to hospitals, prisons and the homeless.

Arch Deacon Dawit Gebreyohannes Woldetsadik, moved to London from Ethiopia as a young man. He writes in the faith column about the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church.
Photo: Getty
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Theresa May is paying the price for mismanaging Boris Johnson

The Foreign Secretary's bruised ego may end up destroying Theresa May. 

And to think that Theresa May scheduled her big speech for this Friday to make sure that Conservative party conference wouldn’t be dominated by the matter of Brexit. Now, thanks to Boris Johnson, it won’t just be her conference, but Labour’s, which is overshadowed by Brexit in general and Tory in-fighting in particular. (One imagines that the Labour leadership will find a way to cope somehow.)

May is paying the price for mismanaging Johnson during her period of political hegemony after she became leader. After he was betrayed by Michael Gove and lacking any particular faction in the parliamentary party, she brought him back from the brink of political death by making him Foreign Secretary, but also used her strength and his weakness to shrink his empire.

The Foreign Office had its responsibility for negotiating Brexit hived off to the newly-created Department for Exiting the European Union (Dexeu) and for navigating post-Brexit trade deals to the Department of International Trade. Johnson was given control of one of the great offices of state, but with no responsibility at all for the greatest foreign policy challenge since the Second World War.

Adding to his discomfort, the new Foreign Secretary was regularly the subject of jokes from the Prime Minister and cabinet colleagues. May likened him to a dog that had to be put down. Philip Hammond quipped about him during his joke-fuelled 2017 Budget. All of which gave Johnson’s allies the impression that Johnson-hunting was a licensed sport as far as Downing Street was concerned. He was then shut out of the election campaign and has continued to be a marginalised figure even as the disappointing election result forced May to involve the wider cabinet in policymaking.

His sense of exclusion from the discussions around May’s Florence speech only added to his sense of isolation. May forgot that if you aren’t going to kill, don’t wound: now, thanks to her lost majority, she can’t afford to put any of the Brexiteers out in the cold, and Johnson is once again where he wants to be: centre-stage. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.