March 23, 2010

Hohite Semay Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in New Westminster

By Douglas Aitken
The Ethiopian Orthodox Church is one of the world’s oldest Christian traditions and still maintains practices unchanged from the early days of Christianity. The Ethiopian church is the biggest in a communion of six Eastern Orthodox churches, which also includes the Coptic Church of Egypt, the Syrian Orthodox Church, the Armenian Orthodox Church, the Eritrean Orthodox Church, and the Malabar Orthodox Church in India.

The Ethiopian Orthodox tradition is alive and well in the Vancouver area. Depicted above is the affirmation of the word of God, which involves ritual kissing of the Bible.

The ornate umbrella held above is a symbol of royalty or divinity and is a tradition also observed by the Orthodox Church in India. The Ethiopian Orthodox mass is held every Sunday between 7:30 a.m. and 12 p.m. at the above address. The liturgy is performed in Gheez, the ancient ecclesiastic language, and the sermon in Amharic, the modern, national language of Ethiopia. Everybody is welcome to attend, in full or in part. If asked in advance, a translator can be provided.

Douglas Aitken is the author of the book Three Faces of Vancouver

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