The Anglo-Ethiopian Society
Ethiopian Study Visit - Saturday 7th July 2012
Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church of St. Mary of Debre Tsion
Given by - Archdeacon Dawit
Reviewed by - Anne Parsons
On a sunny Saturday in July about thirty members of The Anglo-Ethiopian Society gathered in Battersea, London for a visit to the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church of St Mary Debre Tsion, where we were greeted by Archdeacon Dawit Gebre Yohannes.
Our visit initially took the form of a very open question and answer session. The questions, covering a wide variety of topics, were answered either by Archdeacon Dawit himself, or he translated the information given by other members of the clergy present.
We learnt that the Ethiopian congregation had been able to raise all the funds to buy the freehold in 2010 of the church (formerly the Anglican church of St Philip). Changes to the fabric of the building are not allowed, so unlike orthodox churches in Ethiopia there are no separate entrances for men and women; each sits on either side of the church once inside. The congregation is large and during major festivals the number of worshippers can swell to many thousands and a large marquee is usually erected in the grounds to accommodate them. A lot of paintings, similar to those seen in churches in Ethiopia, were on display. A large painting of the crucifixion on a war memorial, although not of orthodox iconography, was equally admired by the present congregation.
At the end of our visit we were treated, most unexpectedly, to a buffet sandwich lunch in the vicarage. We thank most sincerely Archdeacon Dawit, the clergy, and helpers from the congregation for the warmth and hospitality they showed us. Members of the Society will always be welcome to attend services, but please be aware it is very busy during festivals!
How to get to the church?
Tube: Vauxhall Station, Clapham Common Station
Rail: Queenstown Road Station, Battersea Park Station
Bus: Number 137, 156 or 452 to the Prairie Street stop on Queenstown Road