As a registered paying member of this sacred church, I am obliged by my Orthodox Christian consciousness to write you this brotherly letter concerning the state of the church at this moment. Though I am not a regular attendee of the church, I have complete right to comment on the ongoing unchristian like divisive activities that are detrimental to the integrity of our beloved Church.
For so long the church has become the political battle ground for the malaises of our community instead of becoming the unifying entity. Of course it is the people who establish the church. The church does not rise up by itself and invite the people to become the parishioners. People come together to form the congregation and build the church as the centre of worship in the name of GOD. When people reach to this sacred decision, it seems that they put their individual ambition and drive in their private homes or palaces with one goal that the church will be a place of worship free of politics and egotistical manifestations, and the priests to be the teachers and accommodators of unity.
What is going today in our Debreselam Medhanealem Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Minneapolis? It is very saddening and appalling to see and hear that the Church has become a place of anger and hatred among its parishioners. Almost twenty years ago a few devoted Ethiopians got together and decided to establish this church as their centre of worship for their Orthodox Christian belief without any affiliation to any denomination. This church was established as Independent center of worship here in Minneapolis with all respect to the teachings of Ethiopian Orthodox Christianity. For so long The Church has been kept independent and it is my wish that it will be kept independent for the next twenty years.
As I hear that there are individuals who want This Church to affiliate with the Patriarch in Ethiopia, and others who want to affiliate with the exiled Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox. Neither of the Patriarchs has proven to be the real leaders of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church with due respect. To be the accepted head of the Archdiocese, the person in the helm of the church, the Patriarch, has to overcome his humanly weakness by standing up tall for the truth by being the voice of the voiceless, defendant of freedom and equality, messiah for the unfortunate and poor, the feeder of the starving, the dresser of the naked, the healer of the sicken, and unifier of the divided. The Patriarch and the priests are supposed to be the promised and expected saviors and deliverers. As an exiled expatriate and the member of this respected church, I have not witnessed any of the above. What the Patriarchs show us is that their side is right and the other side is wrong. The same can be said about our priests of Debreselam Medhanealem Church in Minneapolis. Instead of bringing the warring factions together and promote Unity, some of the priests have taken the side of the faction that wants to join the Archdiocese in Ethiopia. That is absolutely unacceptable to me. The role of the priest should be teaching the bible, keeping the integrity of the church, bringing members together, promoting love and unity, and keeping politics out of the church. People can have political views out of the church. But bringing politics, tribalism, and misconduct into the church are the greatest crimes to be committed in the House of God. It is betrayal to the Church, and blasphemy to GOD. If any priest wants to be anointed to the highest level of the church hierarchy, it is his right, but it should not be on the expense of the integrity of Our Church. If there is a hidden agenda to affiliate Our Church to any Patriarch by any member or priest of the church without the 100% approval of the members of the church, it will be an ugly destructive fight. The Church was founded as Independent and it should remain Independent. Let me remind you the following part of the Bylaws:
………….In matter of administrative. however, the church maintains its independence and shall be governed by the congregation and by its duly elected Board of Trustees……………
This should be respected.
As for the action of the Board, it is disgusting to learn that the majority of the Board undermining the will of the General Assembly, and dictatorially unseating the officially elected Chairman. Are we in the era of African Dictators or are we living in the country of law and order? How in the hell does the elected Board undermine the will of the General Assembly? I would like to remind the dictatorial board to read Article IV and Article V of the Bylaws of the Church. We are not functioning with the constitution of a dictatorial regime. If the Board has a problem with the elected Chairman of the Board, it is its duty to present to the General assembly the problem and ask the General Assembly for election of new Chairman. The disgusting part of the action of the undemocratic Board is hiring a lawyer to unseat the Chairman without the approval of the General Assembly. Who is going to pay the unwarranted legal expense? I hope that it is not from the fund of the church. The members of the Board are going to be responsible for that paying out of their pocket because they ignored and undercut the power of the General Assembly. As a member of the Church, I feel the inconsideration and disrespect of the Board. I have to remind all the members of the Church that we elected these members of the Board, and they have abused their bestowed responsibility, and have become dictatorial.
My message to the Board is that be respectful to the General Assembly, and call a general meeting to explain what is happening in the Board of Trustees. If the current Board cannot function to fulfill its obligations, let the General Assembly elect a new Board. If the Board refuses to respect the will of the General Assembly, any member of the Church has the right to take the Board to court for actions that cause damage to the integrity of the Church and ignoring the rules, rights and obligations incorporated in the Bylaws of the Church.
My message to the priests is that you better become the teachers and peace makers rather than politicians and war mongers. You should be the distributors of Love and Unity rather than promoters of hatred and division. If any priest thinks that he is above the General Assembly, he can be fired for insubordination. As the General Assembly can hire, it can fire any employee for detrimental activities towards the integrity of the Church.
Hope that each of us can work for the integrity and oneness of Our Debreselam Medhane Alem Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahdo Church, and resolve the differences in brotherly and sisterly manner.
Let God Bless Ethiopia and Its Children at home and abroad.
One of the Church Members