The origins of the new churches movement in southern Ethiopia, 1927-1944
The term 'new churches' is used to distinguish these ecclesial communities from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church. The growth and Ethiopianization of the new churches indicates that the movement has now become an integral part of Ethiopian church history. In this dissertation the origins are looked at from three angles. Part one considers the background factors which created the milieu that encouraged the birth and growth of the new churches' movement. The expansion of the northern culture into the south and west gave millions of people access to Ethiopian citizenship. Political, economic and social change rapidly took place. But a religious vacuum was created because the Ethiopian Orthodox Church was unable to assimilate the new Ethiopians. At that point expatriate evangelists arrived; most of them were from North America. Their teaching and strategy filled the religious vacuum. They established a new ecclesial community. This community was able to create an identity of its own before it experienced any significant opposition. The three chapters in part two consider the activities of the expatriate evangelists. Without the explicit assistance of Emperor Haile Selassie their work would have been impossible. They viewed their target audience as people without a serious commitment to any ecclesial community. They encouraged them to make a radical commitment to Christ and subsequently to form a new ecclesial community. The expatriates made a determined effort to establish a new community that was not organizationally dependent on them. The members of the new churches movement originally thought of their religion as quite distinct from the church which was part of the northern culture. In August 1938 the S.I.M. evangelists were finally expelled by the Italians. They had no contact with the new churches' movement for three years. In 1941 they discovered that the movement was flourishing. It was observing the sacraments, caring for its members and telling the Jesus Story to the unconverted. Within two decades all of the other non-Orthodox ecclesial communities in Ethiopia became part of the new churches' movement.