Soon after liberation from Italian occupation, initiatives were taken to bring together the various evangelical groups in the country. Beginning in 1944 Conferences of Ethiopian Evangelical Churches were held. Through the initiatives of Swedish missionaries and even more through the efforts of Ethiopian leaders, consensus was reached and, on January 21, 1959, the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus was inaugurated. Emmanuel Gebre Selassie was elected as the first president.
At its foundation the church consisted of four synods, all of Lutheran background. Fifteen years later (1974), one year after the adoption of the Leuenberg Agreement, the churches resulting from Presbyterian missions decided to join this church. The Reformed congregations maintain their identity within the EECMY and continue to carry the name Bethel. The EECMY is basically a united church with a Lutheran majority, but since it was constituted as a Lutheran church, membership of the Bethel Church in the WARC became ineffective. Today the EECMY is made up of ten synods, two areas, and two presbyteries. The following belong to the Bethel tradition: the Western Wolega Bethel Synod, the Illubabour Bethel Synod, the Southwest Bethel Synod (formerly the Kaffa Bethel Presbytery), the Eastern Gambella Bethel Presbytery, and the Western Gambella Bethel Presbytery. A special office within EECMY provides the coordination which is needed (Bethel Synod Coordination BSCO). In recent times a remarkable development has taken place. The number of congregations both of the Bethel synods and of the EECMY as a whole has rapidly increased. At the time of joining, the Bethel Church had 55 congregations, 16,000 members, and 14 ordained ministers. Today the Bethel synods and presbyteries have a total membership of about 415,000 (Wollega 145,000, Illubabour 123,000, South-West 64,200, and Gambella 86,000). The Bethel synods are economically poor but are committed to spreading the Gospel; they understand mission as a service to the whole person, both spiritual and physical.