Interview with Singer Sister Fasika Mekonnen. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has had monasteries in Jerusalem for more than 1,500 years. The connection of Ethiopia to Jerusalem dates back to 1,000 B.C. when Queen Sheba visited King Solomon.
The baptism of the Ethiopian official at Gaza by the Apostle Philip took place in 34 A.D. (Acts 8:26-40). In addition to these landmark events, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church has maintained a place of worship in Jerusalem. At various times historians, travelers, and rulers of Jerusalem affirmed the presence of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in that great city of God.
In the 19th Century, the Church expanded its possessions when the Christian Ethiopian Emperor Yohannes IV began the construction of the Debre Genet monastery, which was later, completed during the reign of Emperor Menelik II. Since then, the increasing number of churches, chapels, and convents and the acquisition of church properties evidence the prominence of Ethiopia in Jerusalem.
In the middle of the 20th century, the Ethiopian-Jerusalem Organization was established in Addis Ababa to coordinate the annual Easter, Christmas, and Epiphany pilgrimages to Jerusalem. Now the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church faithful in the Diaspora also join this annual pilgrimage. Currently, an Archbishop under a Diocese administers the churches.
People who sought an indigenous African Church brought the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church to the Western Hemisphere in the 1930s. Congregations of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church were established in Trinidad & Tobago and Guyana in 1952.
Since then Churches were subsequently founded in Jamaica, Bermuda, England, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Canada, the U.S.A., and Eastern and Southern Africa. The 1970s saw a dramatic increase in the number of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Churches in the Diaspora following the arrival of large numbers of Ethiopian immigrants in North America, Europe, Australia, Eastern and Southern Africa.
In particular, the spread of Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Churches in North America was facilitated under the leadership of His Grace Abune Yesehaq, who was the Archbishop of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in the Western Hemisphere at the time.