This summer, the hierarchs of the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches were blessed to participate in two church consecrations of particular import and significance to both our regional community and to our Oriental Orthodox communion throughout the world.
First, on the evening of Friday, June 11, 2021, His Grace Bishop Makarios – the shepherd of the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Diocese of North America – consecrated Medhane Alem Eritrean Orthodox Church in Brentwood, Maryland – the cathedral of the Diocese – with the participation of His Grace Bishop Karas, Bishop of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of Pennsylvania & its Affiliated Regions, and His Eminence Archbishop Vicken Aykazian, the Ecumenical Director and Diocesan Legate of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church. The next day – Saturday, June 12 – His Grace Bishop Makarios led the assembled faithful in the cathedral’s inaugural Divine Liturgy. In addition to the above-mentioned hierarchs and the priests and deacons of a number of Eritrean churches who came to join in the celebration, the Reverend Father Aphrem Al Faham of St. Aphraim Syriac Orthodox Church in Alexandria, Virginia, also participated in the Divine Liturgy, representing His Eminence Mor Dionysios John Kawak of the Syriac Orthodox Diocese Archdiocese of the Eastern United States.
Additionally, Rev. Father Kosmas Karavellas of Saints Constantine and Helene Greek Orthodox Church in Annapolis Maryland, and Rev. Father Luke Toumi of Saint Peter & Saint Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church in Potomac, Maryland were also in attendance representing His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese and His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph of the Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of New York & Washington, DC respectively.
Then, on the evening of Friday, July 23, 2021, His Eminence Archbishop Petros – Archbishop of the Ethiopian Archdiocese of New York & Its Affiliated Regions – consecrated Debre Genet Kidus Gabriel Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Orange, New Jersey, with the participation of His Eminence Archbishop Mor Silvanos Ayub of the Knanaya Archdiocese of the Syriac Orthodox Church. The next day, His Eminence Abune Petros led the assembled faithful in the first Divine Liturgy celebrated in the parish’s new building. In addition to the two hierarchs and the priests and deacons of a number of Ethiopian parishes who came to join in the festivities – as well as the Knanaya Syriac Orthodox clergy accompanying His Eminence Mor Silvanos – priests and deacons representing SCOOCh President His Grace Bishop David of the Coptic Orthodox Diocese of New York & New England, His Grace Bishop Makarios and the Eritrean Orthodox Diocese, and His Grace Bishop Daniel Findikyan of the Eastern Diocese of the Armenian Church also participated in the prayers and services.
The consecration of Medhane Alem Eritrean Orthodox Church represents the establishment of the cathedral of the canonical Eritrean Orthodox Diocese of North America which is loyal to the embattled Eritrean Orthodox Patriarch, His Holiness Abune Antonios I, who is supported unreservedly by the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches and by the entire Oriental Orthodox Communion. May God return His Holiness to his Apostolic Throne in peace.
The consecration of Debre Ganet Kidus Gabriel Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is likewise of particular historical significance because in many ways it represents the culmination of the decades-long evangelistic and missionary enterprise of the Ethiopian Church in the West among those African Diasporic communities which actively sought out and engaged with the ancient Church of Ethiopia at their own initiative and requested from her an Apostolic mission. The work of His Eminence Archbishop Abune Yesehaq of Blessed Memory was of particular import to Debre Ganet Kidus Gabriel, as he established the parish in New Jersey in the late 1990s, and charged its priests with continuing his work.
The hierarchs of the Standing Conference of Oriental Orthodox Churches offer their blessings and hearty congratulations to the V. Rev. Fr. Weldetinsae Berhane, V. Rev. Fr. Tesfom Abrahale, and the deacons and faithful of Medhane Alem Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church in Maryland; and also to V. Rev. Fr. Melake Ganet Kesis Tesfa Eyesus, V. Rev. Fr. Melake Selam Kesis Paulos, and V. Rev. Fr. Melake Berhane Kesis Gebre Menfes Kidus (of Blessed Memory) and to the deacons and faithful of Debre Ganet Kidus Gabriel and to all the clergy and faithful of both parishes and of the Eritrean and Ethiopian Orthodox Churches at large.