Ethiopia - (Afrika)

Informationen über Ethiopia

Addis Abeba
1133380 Quadratkilometer
Muslim 45%-50%, Ethiopian Orthodox 35%-40%, animist 12%, other 5% (Prot 4%, RCath 1%)
Christen (%)
Protestanten (%)
Reformierte (%)

The Ethiopian population can roughly be divided into three groups: the Semitic tribes in the north (one third of the population) of which the Tigreans and Amharas are numerically the most important; the Cushitic tribes in eastern, southern, and western Ethiopia (about half the population), the most significant within this group being the Oromos (16 to 18 million); and the Nilotic group living on the border with Sudan. About half of the population belongs to the Orthodox Church, and a very large segment is Muslim. Ethiopia is one of the oldest Christian countries of the world. Christianity was introduced in the north in the fourth century by two Syrian brothers, Frumentius and Aedesius. For several centuries the Christian Axumite Kingdom (Abyssinia) flourished. But Islam spread rapidly, surrounding the kingdom and isolating the church from the rest of Christendom. Despite adverse circumstances the Abyssinian empire succeeded in surviving. In the 16th century a prolonged war between Christians and Muslims decisively weakened both parties and made it possible for the Oromos to move to territories formerly held by Christians or Muslims. Modern Ethiopia begins with Emperor Menelik II (1889-1913), who defeated the Italians in 1896 and extended the empire into the area of the Oromos. His successor, Haile Selassie I, sought to maintain the conquests. When, in 1935, Italy invaded and occupied the country, he went into exile; after his return in 1941 he continued to rule the country as an independent nation. In 1974 he was overthrown and the country was governed for 17 years by a military regime of Communist inspiration. After its fall in 1991 Ethiopia became a republic.
Protestant missions entered the country in the 19th century. Their intention originally was to contribute to the renewal of the Orthodox church and with its help to spread the Gospel within the non-Christian population. In fact, their witness resulted in the formation of Protestant churches. The first missionaries came from the Swedish Lutheran church; they were later joined by missionaries from Denmark, Norway, Germany, and the United States. In 1899 the Bible was translated into Oromo by Nesib (or Onesimus, his Christian name), an Oromo who had converted to Christianity.
The Reformed presence in Ethiopia dates to the beginning of the 20th century. A decision in 1869 by the United Presbyterian Church of North America (UPCNA) to send missionaries did not materialize until 1919. The effort began when a deadly epidemic, the Spanish flu, swept across the country. Thomas Alexander Lambie (1885-1954), a medical missionary of the UPCNA, stationed in Sudan, received from the governor of Qellem an urgent invitation to provide medical services. The efforts began within the framework of the Sudan Mission, but the UPCNA decided in 1922 to establish a separate mission. In 1924 the Ethiopia Missionary Association was formed. Work concentrated on the provinces of Wolega and Illubabour in the western part of Ethiopia. The policy of the Missionary Association was explicitly to revive the Orthodox Church and not to set up a separate church. But the missionaries decided to establish a church anyway. While the issue was still being debated, Italy invaded Ethiopia and the missionaries were forced to leave. The unexpected development led to the birth of the Evangelical Church Bethel in 1940. In 1947 it was constituted as an independent church under national leadership, holding Presbyterian doctrine and polity. The church became a member of WARC in 1970.


Theologische Ausbildungsstätten

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