By Tedla Asfaw
The New York City Medhanealem Orthodox Tewahedo (MOT) permanent members who are paying their dues will gather this Sunday March 31, 2013 to vote on buying new home at Yonkers, NY, the first home of the church. MOT was founded by the late Tagaye Paulose and has been paying monthly rent for more than three decades at its Riverside Church location in Manhattan. Therefore having its own home after so many years of rental is a noble cause for its members including those who are not permanent members like myself.
The Board and especially those who followed this project from its inception up to this level should be commended for their time and expertise. I was told that first and foremost this property is the property of its members and the Church Board is responsible for administrating this property through its building section. I was also told by the Board Chairman Dr. Dagnachew Birru that all decision is made by consulting its members. The Chairman joined the church in early 2000. Most of Board members are relatively new comers like him, its members are also relatively new.
The MOT has been “neutral” for almost 21 years.However, breaking its neutrality, “Mere Geta Berhanu Wedeneh ” organized a service for the late Tagaye Paulose last summer. Some argued that this is the “tradition” of our Orthodox Church in the time of death. The same tradition that was displayed when Meles Zenawi passed almost few weeks apart back by pro government churches in the Diaspora. Imagine what a church ceremony would have been back home if Tagaye Pauolse had not passed away few weeks earlier. I am not sure what kind of service was organized at church for the late Meles Zenawi at MOT but there was something.However, Mere Geta Berhanu Wedeneh was not among those who were invited at Harlem Abyssinian Baptist Church Memorial Service for late Meles Zenawi last l fall.
Mere Geta Berhanu Wedeneh seems to learn from his past mistakes of being “neutral” until the death of Paulose. He is no longer going to wait another twenty years to join the Synod in Addis Ababa. He came out from his “closet” and declared for church followers this month that “our church Head is Mathias”, a man who came to power like his predecessor while Abune Merkorios the 4th patriarch is still alive.
Churches in the Diaspora who claim to be “neutral” are now taking stand against Mathias and we are going to see new alignment very soon. Mind you how difficult will be to buy property at this moment without knowing who will be the head of this church, Mathias Vs Merkorios. The time of neutrality is gone for good. Mere Geta Berhanu has now joined the Mathias Camp.
The Board Chairman Dr. Dagnachew Birru whom I do not know or met assured me that, ” I should not worry” about it and advised me “labeling people” is not good at all. I shared email with him yesterday the one I circulated for friends on how Mere Geta Berhanu has evolved from neutrality to Woyane Camp. That is not labeling, it is fact. I like many Diaspora Christian Orthodox followers took a stand in the 1990s when we chased away Tagaye Paulose from Medhanealem Church in New York City.
Since then Mere Geta Berhanu had never spoken up against injustices done to our people. Even when he was asked to join protest rallies in support of the Waldiba Monks never showed up. Since Mathias becomes the leader of the church by the will of Woyane he has started calling his name in church and as usual members have been silent/neutral. The Board Chairman assured me on his email yesterday that the final decision is made by its members following its bylaws. I pray for God to give wisdom to its members and remove Mere Geta Berhanu and his likes sooner than later to get peace in their new home.
Some argue that first they have to close the property deal it took many years to find and secure. They said because of rising interest rate action has to be taken now to save future mortgage cost. I agree with that but still there is no reason why members should not vote on the fate of Mere Geta. The Church Board members should put his fate as soon as possible as its main Agenda. Securing property without securing its spiritual future is inappropriate and dangerous. MOT members should say NO !!!! to Mere Geta Berhanu Wedenehe’s Call to Join the Woyane Synod in Addis Ababa. Let him go to his New Home like Tagaye Paulose did twenty one years ago !!!!!