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Where are Ethiopian Evangelical Churches in the midst of all these bloodsheds in the country?

June 20, 2024

A call for Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution

By: Abel Eshetu Gebremedhin

In the midst of Ethiopia’s complex socio-political landscape, where tensions and conflicts often threaten stability and unity, the role of Ethiopian evangelical churches should emerges as crucial. These churches, deeply rooted in communities across the nation, possess unique potential to foster peace, reconciliation, and sustainable development. As guardians of moral authority and agents of compassion, their influence must extend far beyond the spiritual realm into the fabric of society itself. At the heart of Ethiopian evangelical churches lies a profound commitment to peace and justice rooted in biblical teachings. Central to their mission is the promotion of love, forgiveness, and reconciliation—values essential for healing fractured communities. Drawing from their religious teachings, these churches can provide moral guidance and spiritual support to individuals and communities affected by conflict.

Ethiopian evangelical churches are not only spiritual centers but can also be influential voices in public discourse. They possess a unique platform to advocate for peace and condemn violence, leveraging their moral authority to sway public opinion and influence policy. By speaking out against injustice and promoting dialogue among conflicting parties, they can facilitate a path towards reconciliation and understanding.

One of the most impactful roles of evangelical churches is their direct engagement at the grassroots level. They are embedded within local communities, often serving as hubs for social services, education, and humanitarian aid. Through these initiatives, churches can address root causes of conflict such as poverty, inequality, and ethnic tensions. By promoting community cohesion and mutual understanding, they lay the groundwork for sustainable peace. In times of heightened conflict, Ethiopian evangelical churches can act as impartial mediators and bridge builders. Their reputation for integrity and commitment to justice allows them to navigate complex political landscapes and facilitate dialogue between opposing factions. By fostering trust and facilitating negotiations, they can play a pivotal role in resolving disputes peacefully. While the potential of Ethiopian evangelical churches in peacebuilding is substantial, challenges abound. Political polarization, historical grievances, and external pressures can hinder their efforts. However, these challenges also present opportunities for churches to demonstrate resilience, compassion, and unwavering commitment to peace.

In conclusion, the role of Ethiopian evangelical churches in peacebuilding and conflict resolution is indispensable. As moral guides, advocates for justice, and community leaders, they possess the ethical foundation and practical experience needed to foster reconciliation and promote sustainable peace. By leveraging their spiritual influence and embracing their responsibilities as stewards of peace, these churches can help Ethiopia navigate its current challenges towards a future of harmony and prosperity for all its people.

Churches in Africa have played significant role to establish peace agreements between fighting forces, political parties and community groups. To this fact, evangelical churches in Kenya, South Africa and Rwanda can be mentioned in this category. Ethical leadership, unwavering integrity and neutral stance are few of the qualities that made them influential.

While the natural reality is what has been discussed so far, Ethiopian Evangelical churches have not shown commendable effort in the peacebuilding effort and particularly in mediating the existing conflicts the country is passing through. Quite a lot of people from other religious groups condemn them as being blind supporters of PM Abiy Ahmed for his same belongingness. Key evangelical preachers who boldly supported Abiy Ahmed have created wrong image amongst the public. During the TPLF and Federal government war giant evangelical leaders have publicly shown their support for the government which later caused Tigray evangelical churches terminate their relationship with Evangelical churches Fellowship of Ethiopia.

To remain effective agents of peace and stability in Ethiopia, evangelical churches can focus on several key actions and initiatives:

  1. Promoting Reconciliation and Dialogue

Ethiopian evangelical churches can actively promote reconciliation and dialogue among diverse communities, including different ethnic and religious groups. They can facilitate platforms for constructive dialogue, promote understanding, and address underlying grievances that contribute to conflict.

  1. Advocating for Justice and Human Rights

Churches can advocate for justice and human rights, speaking out against injustice, discrimination, and violence. They can support efforts to uphold the rule of law and ensure accountability at all levels of society, including advocating for fair treatment of marginalized communities.

  1. Engaging in Peacebuilding Initiatives

Engaging in practical peacebuilding initiatives at the grassroots level is crucial. Churches can organize peacebuilding workshops, conflict resolution trainings, and mediation efforts within communities affected by conflict. These initiatives can empower local leaders and community members to resolve disputes peacefully.

  1. Providing Humanitarian Assistance and Social Services

Ethiopian evangelical churches are often involved in providing essential humanitarian assistance and social services to vulnerable populations. By continuing and expanding these efforts, churches can alleviate poverty, address basic needs, and promote social stability in communities.

  1. Fostering Ethical Leadership and Good Governance

Churches can play a role in fostering ethical leadership and promoting good governance practices. They can encourage political leaders to prioritize the common good, transparency, and accountability in their governance. Additionally, churches can provide moral guidance to their members who hold positions of influence in various sectors of society.

  1. Educating for Peace and Tolerance

Education is a powerful tool for promoting peace and tolerance. Churches can integrate peace education programs into their religious teachings, schools, and community outreach initiatives. These programs can emphasize respect for diversity, non-violent conflict resolution, and the importance of building inclusive communities.

  1. Strengthening Interfaith and Interethnic Dialogue

Promoting interfaith and interethnic dialogue is essential for fostering mutual understanding and harmony. Churches can collaborate with leaders from other religious traditions and ethnic communities to organize joint events, interfaith prayers, and cultural exchanges that celebrate diversity and promote unity. They can also join hands to resolve ethnic based conflicts and mediate opposing groups.

  1. Engaging in National and Regional Advocacy

Ethiopian evangelical churches can engage in advocacy at national and regional levels to address systemic issues contributing to conflict. They can participate in dialogue forums, engage with policymakers, and advocate for policies that promote peace, justice, and reconciliation.

Conclusion

Ethiopian evangelical churches can continue to serve as agents of peace and stability in the country. Their commitment to promoting reconciliation, advocating for justice, providing humanitarian assistance, and fostering inclusive dialogue can contribute significantly to building a peaceful and prosperous Ethiopia for all its people. Coming out of their internal conflict and longstanding divisions instigated mainly by their deep-seated ethnic affiliations, the nation calls them to be in neutral ground for sustainable peace resolutions. Coupled with their heterogeneous identity unlike other religions, Evangelical churches are seen being prone to the influence of politics of the time instead of righteously influencing the politics.

 

10 Comments

  1. I find this article to be funny. Unless Ethiopia is changed dramatically since deceitful Abiye came to power, Evangelicals doesn’t have any sway in Ethiopian society especially in the Northern part where the conflict started and continuing. The majority of the population are Orthodox Christians or Sunny Muslims. Why would the people listen to Evangelicals who are considered to be puppets of the west? They are dominant in the South but there is no major conflict in the South at the moment. What I would suggest is both the leaders of the major religious institutions namely Orthodox and Muslim need to teach their followers to stand behind Fano so that change can come sooner. Fano stands for justice and equality.

      • I know I had to read what is not plainly written and made my own interpretation which I stand with. After I respond to this piece I listened to a Pastor by the name of Bekele who considers Abiy to be a genuine leader. I don’t see any genuine person who is a Prosperity Gospel follower. They are are deceivers.

  2. The role of faith, especially the church, is very essential in nation-building and advocacy for justice and peace, supported by the divine guidance of the Bible. History bears witness to this truth (Isaiah 1:17; Psalm 82:3).

    During the Reformation, the church gained the name Protestant for its opposition protesting the indulgences by the Pope, which exploited believers. The protest began with Martin Luther’s 95 Theses, challenging the unscriptural practices of the Roman Catholic Church. This movement extended to all aspects of life, liberating many communities and contributing significantly to advancements in education and technology.
    In the Ethiopian context, Evangelical pioneers like Menkane-Yeus played a crucial role, initiating the proposed land reform bill during the emperor’s era. Later, during early ethnic politics, Mekane-Yesus participated in the peace and reconciliation conference at Gion Hotel in 1992.

    Unfortunately, some Evangelical churches, due to fear of the brutal Derg military government, adopted a pacifist attitude and refrained from participating in advocacy issues. Subsequently, many leaders compromised with the TPLF regime and the current Prosperity Party, which has cast a negative light on Ethiopian Evangelicals. Nevertheless, there are those among them who advocate for justice and Ethiopia’s well-being. In this regard, I express gratitude to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church for standing as a symbol of Ethiopian unity, urging all faithful to unite under this noble conviction.

    Evangelicals, particularly in Africa and America, have been instruments of justice in the civil rights movement, as exemplified by Baptist Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu.

    Now is the time for Ethiopian Evangelicals to unite in rejecting divisive visions in politics based on ethnic or religious differences. Instead, they should promote reconciliation, brotherhood, and sisterhood among all Ethiopians. By taking a firm stand without compromise, they can contribute positively to the nation.
    May the Lord bring peace to our troubled Ethiopia.
    Eddie, Adefris Habte Mekasha
    Editor Chaplain, and Community Conflict Mediation Advisor
    https://stmarkomaha.org/immpact/

  3. Deep insight. Sure evangelical churches are not playing the required level of role in Ethiopia’s peacebuilding land scape adn this has created a view that many deemed them to be supporters of Abiy Ahmed while the reality is totally different. Indeed there are quite lots who are publicaly supporting prosperity party individually and as a chucrh body. But still quite lots who oppose Abiy and his regime. In Amhara region so many evangelical churches are suffering from discrimination adn unfair treatment even by prosperity party officials. But this article can awaken teh chuch to find a right postion where it can neutrally serve the vulnerable community by being a voice for the voiceless.

  4. The answer is simple.
    Most of them ,more than 90%, are on the side of PP, Abiy.
    Just ask them. They will give you the answer straight foreward

  5. The article is more of a public relation manifesto rather than being fact revealing gospel. Since its inception the protestant church has a bright and dark sides. It had been used abused for colonial expansion and dehumanize the majority population of Africa. The slave lord Europe who were chasing resource in Africa always had the blessing of the pastors. Now days in the developing Europe, North America and Australia the church is no more in practical use. That is why the protestant church dying in those places and flourishing in under developing countries to be the hope of the hopeless.
    When we come to the Ethiopian reality there are protestant group who built hospitals, schools and participate as a teacher. That is an excellent gesture. On the other hand like the Oromo liberation front some of the freedom fighters are made in protestant church. I don’t see here the guardian of moral authority.

  6. Why don’t the people of Ethiopia as a nation stop leaning on man FOR UNDERSTANDING and repent The Bible says if my people humble themselves and turn away from they sins and repent then I will forgive them and HEAL THEIR LAND. JUST DO WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS BE OBEDIENT AND REMOVE YOUR PRIDE. Repent….the nations thinks they are close to God but in reality they have drifted so far they don’t even recognize it. Please don’t feel offended you are by this statement in any way offended then you should def look within yourself and see the pride showing.

    • We live in practical world. There was no a single nation in this plant politically, socially and economically grow and get prosperous by repentance. Poor Ethiopia won’t be the exceptional. Your kind of statements must be limited in the pulpit. We have more than enough sermon from prosperous religion pope Abiy Ahmed.
      The majority of our people suffered and impose on him famine, war , disease and illiteracy for years. Is this the kind of our people sins you are writing about?

      Which protestant church started from Gibe Wollga in second world war, by German fascist escapee ? Is the some church help to form Oromo Liberation Front?Is The Oromo elites like Negasso Gidada and friends got the scholarship to Germany through the some church to backup the Liberation front intellectually?
      The solution to Our country problems are way far from religion jargons. That is not also the almighty wish.

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