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A Brief History of the First Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church in Canada

The Ethiopian Orthodox Church, Medhane Alem [now known as Keraneyo (the name of the mountain where Christ was crucified) Medhane Alem (the Saviour of the world)] was established in Canada on July 23, 1972.  The Church was requested by a newly immigrated Caribbean community to Canada.

Prior to the Church's establishment in 1972, the founding members sent correspondence to Abba Laike Mandefro (His Eminence, Abune Yesehaq, Archbishop), inviting him to Toronto, Canada.  Abba Laike Mandefro willingly accepted the invitation and on July 20, 1972, he was received.

Abba Laike Mandefro gave sacrament to 53 candidates, baptized them and served Holy Communion.  This historic event was held at the St. Michael’s All Angels Anglican Church located at Wychwood Avenue and St. Clair Avenue West, Toronto.  After the service, two brothers, Tesfa Selassie and Surafel were appointed as Readers to officiate the services in the absence of clergy.  Abba Laike Mandefro also appointed a Board of Trustees.

Abba Laike Mandefro (His Eminence, Abune Yesehaq, Archbishop) was tasked in setting up Medhane Alem as a predominately English-speaking Church.  His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie I, who was ruler of Ethiopia at the time, authorized the translation of historical Ge'ez and Amharic-written texts into English to accommodate the Churches newly-seeking western followers.

When Abba Laike Mandefro (His Eminence, Abune Yesehaq, Archbishop) returned to the Church, the congregation was now worshiping at a church building located at the corner of Bathurst and Wells Street.  In 1974, the Church moved to the The Bond Church, which later merged with the United Church of Canada, located at 1066 Avenue Road.  During this time, Abba Laike Mandefro sent the first resident Priest, Kesis Zachariah, who stayed with the congregation a few years.

In 1977, Abba Laike Mandefro sent Abba Ephraim Selassie as the first Ethiopian-born Priest as the next resident-Priest.  Abba Ephraim also spent a few years with the congregation.  After he left, the congregation purchased its first building.

The first building bought in 1980 by its members was located at 425 Vaughn Road and was first operated as a grocery store and restaurant  for the purpose of raising revenue to maintain the Churches operations.  Late His Eminence, Abune Yesehaq, Archbishop of the Western Hemisphere at the time sent several visiting Priest periodically.

Early 1984, His Eminence, Abune Yesehaq sent Kesis Messale Engeda who was residing at the EOTC Holy Trinity church in Kingston, Jamaica.  Like Kahenat (Rev. Fr.) Messale Engeda, who was the Head Priest at the time, converted the store into a place of worship and in 1987; His Eminence, Abune Yesehaq consecrated the sanctuary. 

Due to membership growth from an Ethiopian diaspora, Kesis Messale Engeda later opened another branch called Menbere Berhan Kidest Mariam (Saint Mary), which was established in 1991.  In the same timeframe, His Eminence, Abune Yesehaq ordained Kesis Tekle Wolde, the first Priest from Medhane Alem's congregation.

In 1994, His Eminence, Abune Yesehaq ordained both Gabre Mikael and Haile Mariam as Deacons.  During this time, several Priest and Deacons would visit the congregation to provide sacrament to prospective members and administer Holy Communion.

The Medhane Alem Church located at 425 Vaughan Road, later relocated to 23 Denison Road East in 1999.  Prior to the Church's relocation, Kesis Gabre Mikael was ordained as Head Priest of Medhane Alem while on a trip to Holy Trinity Church in Kingston, Jamaica.

On Sunday, July 23, 2000, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, Keraneyo Medhane Alem was consecrated by His Eminence, Archbishop Abune Yesehaq.  Many people came from near and far to celebrate this wonderful occasion.  The Church was filled with the presence of the Most High, and those who were present celebrated the accomplishment of the consecration of Canada's first Ethiopian Orthodox Church.  

Although there are many Ethiopian Orthodox Churches in Canada, Medhane Alem Tewahedo Church is the first and only church established in Canada at the time. The Church is funded by it's members.

Our Mission

To live in the light of Eyesus Christos; revealing God's love, restoring true hope, spirituality and ancient Christianity to the western English-speaking diaspora.

Our Website

This website is intended to provide information about the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and its history.  Through the information provided, diligent seeking Christians can come closer to Christ.  Think of this site as a hub where you can gain access to extensive research and a greater understanding of what it takes to know Christ.

"Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend."

-Proverbs 27:17

Definitions & Translations

Medhane - the Saviour 

Alem - of the World 

Keraneyo - the name of the mountain where Christ was crucified 

Tewahedo - being made one (to refer God the Son the Devine took flesh from Mariam and became one)

Articles & Resources

23 Denison Road East, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M9N 1B6


Please help support the church and its programs by making a small, but meaningful donation.  Your support is greatly welcomed.

To live in the light of Eyesus Christos; revealing God's love, restoring true hope, spirituality and ancient Christianity to the western English-speaking diaspora.

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