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Ethiopian Church introduced service adjustment in the face of COVID 19 

Ethiopian Church is not temporarily closing but it has made several adjustments to continue to provide service in a way that protects the faithful from the COVID 19 pandemic.

Ethiopian Church _ COVID 19
Patriarch Abune Mathias. Photo credit : EOTC TV via Hara Ze Tewahdo

March 23, 2020

Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church (EOTC) issued a statement on Monday in which it detailed several service adjustments in the face of COVID 19 threat.

Seemingly, it came as a response to calls from the government to make (or avoid large gatherings). 

Patriarch Abune Mathias addressed the statement to Ethiopians across the country and around the world. 

“Governments are introducing laws to rescue citizens from Coronavirus which is spreading fast around the world,” said the statement.  And our holy church, the statement went on to say, has an apostolic duty to protect humanity by way of introducing guidelines without compromising faith and canon. 

And then the statement, which is written in Ethiopia’s official language Amharic, lists about 15 measures to be implemented on an Adhoc basis.

The first thing that the church wants the laity to do is avoid handshakes. During Passion Week, Ethiopian Church has the tradition of commemorating every single tribulation of  Jesus Christ. Judas Iscariot’s act of greetings is also remembered, and the faithful avoid handshakes or shoulder rubbing during the week. The Patriarch and the Holy Synod want their spiritual children to practice that as part of the preventative measures not to contract COVID 19.  Instead of handshakes, people will bow to greet each other. 

Washing hands before entering the church, whenever necessary, and standing sparsely in the church during church mass are also part of the measures that the Holy Synod introduced. 

Yearly celebrations are to be postponed for later days. 

Those who have symptoms of cold or influenza are to remain at home, pray from home, and get medical attention. But they are not denied church service. The church will make a special arrangement should they need it. 

For those who receive communion during the mass service, it will be given in three categories of age groups – Children, Youth, and Elders. 

And laities who are attending the mass from outside the church but within the Church premise ( Ethiopian Churches are built in an enclosure with large shades from a conifer or olive trees, among others) are to stand two strides apart. 

A task force formed is to announce soon other details relating to mass service, according to the statement from the Holy Synod. 

Moreover, the Holy Synod of the Ethiopian Church warned not to attack or insult foreigners, and to care for the vulnerable and the needy. 

The statement also called for Ethiopians around the world to discharge their social and spiritual responsibility to help reverse the pandemic.  

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