I’ve just finished writing a report on the visit. It’s been great to look back over the people I have met and the things I have done.
Religion is definitely alive and well – everywhere. But each of the churches and religious groups faces challenges.
The Ethiopian Orthodox Tawehedo church was where I started. For centuries they have been the established church of Ethiopia, and other faiths and churches have operated under strictly regulated and restricted conditions. So its not surprising that with the new freedom of religion, these are making up for lost time and growing at a fast pace.
The Orthodox recognise that many have absorbed by the culture of the nation – which happens to be Christian – rather than the faith of the church.
The response has been to uphold traditional Orthodox faith especially as lived in the monasteries; and to focus on teaching and education to ensure a well-informed and confident membership.
The results are impressive with large numbers attending schools and teaching of various kinds. The test will be whether this faith – traditional in content but presented with effective modern methods – captures the allegiance of Ethiopians in their changing society.
But maybe popularity is not the point. If it’s true, it’s true. Whether believers are many or whether they are few.