Thoughts on Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Churches

In January 2020 (shortly before the Covid-10 pandemic really kicked in around here) I visited an Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church in London, UK. It was a genuinely uplifting experience. It the pandemic is over, I would like to visit them again.
(I am from a Roman Catholic background but for many years have only identified as a follower of Christ, and no longer visit any congregation.)
However, my experiences with Ethiopian and Eritrean people have been amazing. I decided to visit a church. (For the record, throughout the years I visited several Orthodox Christian congregation in the UK as well as other countries. Sadly, not once did I feel the desire to return to any of them. Inf act, most of the time, regretted visiting them)

My list of positives about the Ethiopian and Eritrean Tewahedo Orthodox Churches

1. A welcoming church
I was welcomed there as a non-Ethiopian/non-Eritrean visitor.
(most other orthodox congregations I visited were awful in this regard.)
2. A living congregation
Seen a large number of traditional, intact families , often with 3-4 children. (Contrast it with the declining birthrates in Eastern Europe and Armenia)
3. A traditional congregation
Seen young women dressed modestly and getting married reasonably early (before reaching age 24)
(Contrast it with some Romanian and Armenian women turning up to Christmas service in tight jean and uncovered hair, unmarried and childless at age 32. I can only speak of what I have witnessed)
4.The oldest orthodox Christian congregation in the world.
Historic evidence shows that The Ethiopian and Eritrean Tewahedo Church is the oldest Orthodox Christian Church in the world.
Orthodox Christianity is alive and well in Ethiopia and Eritrea while (as I observed throughout the years)Orthodox Christianity it is pretty much dead (or in a process of dying) everywhere else - Eastern Europe and the Caucasus (destroyed by Communism) , in Greece destroyed (destroyed by extreme liberalism) and in the Middle east /North Africa (destroyed by Islam).

My list of negatives:
1. It appears practices male circumcision - not sure if this is just cultural custom in the region or is also requirement for new converts. If it is the latter, it is a deal-breaker for me. (I understand this may not be a big deal for someone already circumcised)
2. Language - Amharic and Tigrinya (like most Semitic languages) are hard to learn...but can be learn nevertheless.

Is anyone here a member of the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church? Or if you just visited one, what did you like about the Church?
 
Last edited:

MichaelWitcoff

Ostrich
Orthodox
You should know that those groups are not in communion with the Eastern Orthodox Church, though as you correctly noted they are amongst the oldest that were once Orthodox. It is worth finding a truly Orthodox Church that you like, rather than risk errant spirituality simply because you liked the way you were treated at a particular place. Lots of Protestant parishes are extremely warm and welcoming to newcomers as well, but that doesn't mean that they have the correct beliefs and practices. Mormons are in the same category; very nice people, very bizarre theology. I am sad to hear that you didn't feel welcome in the Orthodox Churches you visited, but again...it's worth finding one that you like and that has a healthy community.
 

Eusebius Erasmus

Kingfisher
Orthodox
My list of negatives:
1. It appears practices male circumcision - not sure if this is just cultural custom in the region or is also requirement for new converts. If it is the latter, it is a deal-breaker for me. (I understand this may not be a big deal for someone already circumcised)
2. Language - Amharic and Tigrinya (like most Semitic languages) are hard to learn...but can be learn nevertheless.

Is anyone here a member of the Ethiopian and Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church? Or if you just visited one, what did you like about the Church?

My understanding is that the Ethiopian and Eritrean churches circumcise merely as a matter of tradition.

I am not a member of any of the Oriental churches, but I find the Ethiopian liturgy beautiful, harkening to a mystical time with Second Temple Jewish traditions (though some have accused it of 'Judaizing').

You should know that those groups are not in communion with the Eastern Orthodox Church, though as you correctly noted they are amongst the oldest that were once Orthodox. It is worth finding a truly Orthodox Church that you like, rather than risk errant spirituality simply because you liked the way you were treated at a particular place. Lots of Protestant parishes are extremely warm and welcoming to newcomers as well, but that doesn't mean that they have the correct beliefs and practices. Mormons are in the same category; very nice people, very bizarre theology. I am sad to hear that you didn't feel welcome in the Orthodox Churches you visited, but again...it's worth finding one that you like and that has a healthy community.

The main issue here is Monophysitism, which is a heresy. However, my understanding is that certain Oriental groups (The Copts and Indians) are Miaphysite and not Monophysite, and don't hold strongly to the former doctrine anyway.

Is this true, and if so, is there a possibility that the Copts and Indians will join Eastern Orthodoxy?
 

nagareboshi

Woodpecker
Doubt it, but feel like I might as well ask. Does anyone have any knowledge about the current status of the reconciliation of the Ethiopian churches with the council of Chalcedon? Why don't they just submit? If the issue is really semantics and not important...why don't they make the move first then.
 

nagareboshi

Woodpecker

When you think about it, it's extremely messed up how the Oriental churches refused to convert to Chalcedonian Christianity but then they later ended up becoming Muslims anyway. I presume it's because the Imperial Christian reconciliation efforts were more oriented towards educated elite bishops while the Islamicization affected more of the common peasants
 
You should know that those groups are not in communion with the Eastern Orthodox Church, though as you correctly noted they are amongst the oldest that were once Orthodox. It is worth finding a truly Orthodox Church that you like, rather than risk errant spirituality simply because you liked the way you were treated at a particular place. Lots of Protestant parishes are extremely warm and welcoming to newcomers as well, but that doesn't mean that they have the correct beliefs and practices. Mormons are in the same category; very nice people, very bizarre theology. I am sad to hear that you didn't feel welcome in the Orthodox Churches you visited, but again...it's worth finding one that you like and that has a healthy community.
Thanks for your input.
My understanding is, the Ethiopian and Eritrea Orthodox Tewahedo Church IS the oldest Orthodox Church. It is other orthodox churches that follow some "heretical" teaching in some aspect.
While I agree that belief and practices are the most important...but the welcoming community is just as important. The message brought to us by Christ is universal. It is meant to be for the whole mankind.
Forgive me for saying this but all of the other Orthodox Churches I visited appeared to be just private,bitter and backward nationalist culture clubs with some icons thrown into the middle. Dead morally , spiritually and almost physically, too considering their aging members (plus the immoral lifestyles and catastrophic birth rates amount their remaining younger members.) See Roosh's article on why he left the Armenian orthodox Church...
 

Eusebius Erasmus

Kingfisher
Orthodox
Forgive me for saying this but all of the other Orthodox Churches I visited appeared to be just private,bitter and backward nationalist culture clubs with some icons thrown into the middle. Dead morally , spiritually and almost physically, too considering their aging members (plus the immoral lifestyles and catastrophic birth rates amount their remaining younger members.) See Roosh's article on why he left the Armenian orthodox Church...
The Armenian Church is not Eastern Orthodox.

I am sorry the parishes you've visited were not friendly. Perhaps there is a convert-friendly parish you could try? Don't give up hope!
 

NickK

Woodpecker
Orthodox
Thanks for your input.
My understanding is, the Ethiopian and Eritrea Orthodox Tewahedo Church IS the oldest Orthodox Church. It is other orthodox churches that follow some "heretical" teaching in some aspect.
While I agree that belief and practices are the most important...but the welcoming community is just as important. The message brought to us by Christ is universal. It is meant to be for the whole mankind.
Forgive me for saying this but all of the other Orthodox Churches I visited appeared to be just private,bitter and backward nationalist culture clubs with some icons thrown into the middle. Dead morally , spiritually and almost physically, too considering their aging members (plus the immoral lifestyles and catastrophic birth rates amount their remaining younger members.) See Roosh's article on why he left the Armenian orthodox Church...
No wonder you felt unwelcome. With such attitude what did you expect?
 
No wonder you felt unwelcome. With such attitude what did you expect?
What attitude? I wrote about me experiences (not in the churches I visited). Don't shoot the messenger just becasue you don't like message.
Roosh himself is a half-Armenian yet he left the Armenian Orthodox Church for another Orthodox Church. Are you going to hate him for that , too?
 
My understanding is that the Ethiopian and Eritrean churches circumcise merely as a matter of tradition.

I am not a member of any of the Oriental churches, but I find the Ethiopian liturgy beautiful, harkening to a mystical time with Second Temple Jewish traditions (though some have accused it of 'Judaizing').



The main issue here is Monophysitism, which is a heresy. However, my understanding is that certain Oriental groups (The Copts and Indians) are Miaphysite and not Monophysite, and don't hold strongly to the former doctrine anyway.

Is this true, and if so, is there a possibility that the Copts and Indians will join Eastern Orthodoxy?
Eusebius, thanks for the sensible reply.
 

NickK

Woodpecker
Orthodox
What attitude? I wrote about me experiences (not in the churches I visited). Don't shoot the messenger just becasue you don't like message.
Roosh himself is a half-Armenian yet he left the Armenian Orthodox Church for another Orthodox Church. Are you going to hate him for that , too?
That's different.
Roosh left the Armenian religious gatherings for the Orthodox Church.
You want to leave the Orthodox Church for the Ethiopian religious gatherings.
 
That's different.
Roosh left the Armenian religious gatherings for the Orthodox Church.
You want to leave the Orthodox Church for the Ethiopian religious gatherings.
You are trying to have ago at me but did not even read my thread properly...
Leaving the Orthodox Church? I was never a member of any Orthodox Church, to begin with
"Ethiopian Religious gatherings", really mate? Let's try it again. Read my lips" The Ethiopian/Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church IS the oldest Orthodox Church in the world" And that is fact, whether you like it or not.
Now, do me a favor. Hit that "ignore" button as I am not going to reply to you or even read your comments from now on.
Good day.
 
Last edited:

nagareboshi

Woodpecker
OP, perhaps you believe that the Ethiopians are most ancient because they refused to affirm Chalcedon. Perhaps you believe that this refusal is a sign of their conservatism and traditionalism.

Unfortunately, that is not the way this world works. If someone asks a new question which demands a yes or no answer, to affirm “no” is not a sign of neutrality but actually the affirmation of the contrary position. Hence we need to evaluate orthodoxy based on the new answers to new questions being asked.
 

MichaelWitcoff

Ostrich
Orthodox
You are trying to have ago at me but did not even read my thread properly...
Leaving the Orthodox Church? I was never a member of any Orthodox Church, to begin with
"Ethiopian Religious gatherings", really mate? Let's try it again. Read my lips" The Ethiopian/Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church IS the oldest Orthodox Church in the world" And that is fact, whether you like it or not.
Now, do me a favor. Hit that "ignore" button as I am not going to reply to you or even read your comments from now on.
Good day.
The issue is that they don't accept the traditional, Apostolic teaching regarding Christ's two natures (fully human and fully divine) which is absolutely essential to the Orthodox understanding of the Person of Jesus Christ and how we are saved by Him. I'm sure they are much closer to the Truth than a lot of other groups calling themselves "churches" out there in the world, but beliefs really do make a crucial difference. Like Fr. Peter Heers says, "erroneous beliefs lead to erroneous spirituality." This may sound trivial and unimportant to you at the moment, but down the line and in the full context of Christianity you will eventually realize its importance. Better to get this stuff right in the beginning than to have to undo major decisions later on down the line.
 

iop890

Crow
Gold Member
OP, you seem to be conflating the kingdom of Aksum being one of the first states to adopt Christianity as the state religion in the 4th century with the Ethiopian church being the oldest.

Also, the Armenians you mentioned are in communion with the Ethiopians, not with the Eastern Orthodox churches.
 
Top