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Teachings and Sacraments

Churches with which the Ethiopian Church is in Communion


The Church is in full communion with the Oriental Orthodox Churches:

(1) the Armenian Orthodox Church; (2) the Coptic Orthodox Church; (3) the Indian Orthodox Church; (4) the Syrian Orthodox Church.  It also maintains friendly relations with many other Christian Churches.

Distinctive Features and Teaching

The Church teaches the Five Pillars of Mystery:  the Trinity, Incarnation, Baptism, Eucharist and Resurrection of the dead.  These mysteries are regarded as basic, by the Church and every Christian must know them.

The first three Ecumenical Councils are accepted by the Ethiopian Church, but not the Council of Chalcedon are accepted by the Ethiopian Church, but not the Council of Chalcedon, which teaches the formula of the two natures against the one nature teaching of St. Cyril of Alexandria.  The Ethiopian Church holds that there were two natures before the Incarnation, but only one after the union.  The human nature was not dissolved in the divine as Eutyches taught, but rather, the divine made the human nature immediately its own, and union is established without confusion and without division.  The Church rejects the teaching of Eutyches, which was regarded by Chacedonian theologians to be the same as the teaching of the Ethiopian Church and its sister Churches.  The Church emphasises that all concerning Christ should be applied to His entire person as one Lord, and not to single out the "human nature" as subject to suffering, hunger, passion, etc.  Properties peculiar to the human are referred to his divine powers, since God suffered, God was crucified, etc.

The hierarchical  centre of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church is the Holy Synod in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.  His Holiness Abune Merkios and Abune Mathias are the current patriarch.

The Patriarch is first nominated by the Holy Synod and elected by delegates representing all churches.  The election is administered by a committee appointed by the Synod.

in the Ethiopian Church, there are bot married and celibate priests.  If one wishes to marry, he must do so prior to becoming a priest.  Celibate priests are required to make a perpetual vow, and only celibate priests can be elevated to the episcopate.

The Eucharistic bread must be made of pure wheat flour to which nothing is added save water and leaven.  It must be baked not earlier than three hours before the beginning of the liturgy.  The wine is prepared from dried raisins.  These are soaked in water for three to five hours and the juice is squeezed out vessels where it remains until transferred to the chalice at the time of the service.

The services are conducted in Geez and Amharic, and in the Western Hemisphere, English is also used.  There are two distinct orders in the service of the Church: (1) the priests and deacons who officiate at the Mass:  (2) The debteras or master cantors whose duties entail executing the liturgical chants.

The Church follows the Julian Calendar.  The Nativity of Christ is celebrated on January 7 in the Gregorian reckoning.

Every monastery in Ethiopia has its own traditional church school or seminary.  A few of the most popular are Holy Trinity Theological College, St. Paul Theological Seminary, and Menelik II School in Addis Ababa: and St.  Yared Theological Seminary and Abraha and Asbaha in Tigre Province.


The seven traditional sacraments or mysteries of baptism, confirmation, penance, Holy Communion, anointing of the sick, matrimony and holy orders are the teaching of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.  The administration of these sacraments is similar to that of other Eastern Orthodox Churches in many ways, but with peculiar native elements in hymnody and ritual.  The Ethiopian Orthodox Church believes that through the sacraments, the believer receives an invisible grace under the form of an outward sign.  All sacraments but holy orders can be administrated by any canonically ordained priest.  All seven sacraments can be administered by a bishop requires that there be at least three bishops present.

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