A delegation from the World Council of Churches (WCC), led by WCC Central Committee moderator Dr Agnes Abuom, visited Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 21-22 October as an expression of solidarity to the member churches there. The delegation met with leaders of member churches, members of the Ethiopian interfaith council, and government representatives.
The visit was organized in response to reports of unrest in Ethiopia and, most recently, hundreds of deaths of protesters, large numbers of arrests, and a declaration of a state of emergency by the Ethiopian government. The WCC delegation recognized the history and importance of Ethiopia for Africa. The delegation reflected that interfaith relationships in Ethiopia are strong, cooperative and productive, modeling cooperation in peace-building. Ethiopia has enjoyed sustained and progressive economic growth for more than two decades, with peace and stability over the last 20 years. Addis Ababa hosts the African Union, in which the All Africa of Conference of Churches has an observer status.
The delegation met with His Holiness Abune Mathias, patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church; Rev. Dr Wakseyoum Idosa Negeri, president of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus; Cardinal Berhaneyesus of the Ethiopian Catholic Church; Pastor Zerihun Degu, general secretary of the Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia; Dr Hulluf Weldsilassie, deputy general secretary of the Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia, Dr Mulatu Teshome, president of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia; and His Excellency Dr Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus, minister of foreign affairs of Ethiopia, as well as representatives of members of the ACT Alliance working in Ethiopia.
The visit was intended primarily as a gesture of solidarity with World Council of Churches (WCC) member churches in Ethiopia. The delegation conveyed its concern about the situation, and expressed the WCC’s support of member churches and initiatives already undertaken by the religious communities, and its hope that Ethiopia will continue its important role as a leader in the region and the world. The delegation communicated the shared experiences of WCC member churches which have dealt with similar occurrences in the region and beyond.
Church leaders expressed their appreciation for the letter of the general secretary and the solidarity visit. They asked the World Council of Churches and its member churches to continue to hold Ethiopia and its people in prayer, and to support the constructive interreligious efforts currently underway, as Ethiopia works toward a just and peaceful resolution.
In addition to Dr Agnes Abuom, the delegation included Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi (Anglican Church of Burundi), Bishop Tor Berger Jørgensen (Church of Norway/Lutheran World Federation), WCC central committee member Anne Glynn-Mackoul (Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch), as well as ACT Alliance representative Gorden Simango, and WCC staff Dr Nigussu Legesse, executive secretary for Africa.