The city church that celebrates New Year in September

The Orthodox Church in Kilimani is bustling with members of a small and little-known community of Christians in the city.

Photo credit: File

Donning white shawls, the men and women at this church are here to celebrate a special day.

The Orthodox Church in Kilimani is bustling with members of a small and little-known community of Christians in the city.

The congregation – made up of people of all ages - has filled the church and the priest is not celebrating mass for the New Year but to mark the birth of Saint Tekle Haymanot.

It is not New Year’s here yet, and, in fact, the church has not even celebrated Christmas.

The Orthodox Church marks the New Year on September 11 but is looking forward to Christmas Day, on January 7.

This particular church is divided into three sections: the main hall, where men and women can enter; another area reserved only for priests; and a women-only part where most of the choir members go through.

The church welcomes nonmembers

On Sunday, the mass, which lasted two hours, started at 7.30am, with the Kidase conducted in the Geʿez language. The men and women left their shoes outside before entering the church.
Kidase means to give thanks to the Lord and includes converting wine and bread into the Holy Sacrament (the blood and body of Christ), as Jesus did on the eve of his crucifixion.

The worshippers then moved on to the gospel session of the mass, conducted in Amharic, which most of the congregants speak. There was a special section of the church where congregants were taught to recite the Kidase in Geʿez.

The church welcomes nonmembers too. After the service, food brought by members for the congregants was shared. The main dish was the Ethiopian injera, served with accompaniments such as chickpeas, potatoes and other vegetables (mostly spicy).

There is also specially made bread that looks like naan but is sweet.

Tekle Haymanot was born in the early 1200s in Zorare in the eastern Shewa region of Ethiopia and died in the early 1300s.

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church was founded in 328, and it is estimated that more than half of Ethiopia's people are adherents.


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