Jah influence

Saint Thomas, United States Virgin Islands

On Thursday, January 24, 1985 a party comprising Brother Wolde Hawariat
(Paul Blake) of Jamaica,
Sister Meserete Hiwot (Caroline Burgess, of Bermuda, executive secretary of the Western Hemisphere Diocese of the Ethiopian Orthodox), and His Eminence Abuna Yesehaq traveled from New York to Saint Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The purpose of the visit was to establish an Ethiopian Orthodox mission on the island of Saint Thomas.
It was indeed a very historic occasion.
Upon arrival at the Cyril King Airport in Saint Thomas, they were welcomed warmly by the then manager of Pan American Airlines, Mr. John Knight, Senator Crickey Maynard of the Virgin Islands Senate, and Mr. Derrick Soninram, chairman of the Christian Council. A press conference was held at the airport lounge with local television, radio, and newspaper reporters.

A large crowd of prospective members were also gathered at the airport. A booklet entitled " A Brief Introduction to the Ethiopian Orthodox Church " was distributed. Prospective members, visitors and airport staff eagerly received the literature. The next day Friday, January 25, 1985 His Eminence visited the Lieutenant Governor of the Virgin Islands, Mr. Julio Bradey, Bishop Turner of the Anglican Diocese, and Father Julian Clarke, priest of Saint Andrew's Episcopal Church who had kindly granted His Eminence permission to use his church for marriage ceremonies, worship service, and baptisms. Later that day His Eminence was interviewed on the radio during a phone-in program hosted by native Bermudan, Ms. Arlene Ottey.

On Saturday, January 26, 1985 Brother Haile Mikael and Sister Esete Maryam were married. The event was well attended by family, friends as well as local media. His Eminence was interviewed on the radio again by a Jennifer Ryan who had just recently returned from a visit to Ethiopia.    On Sunday, January 27, 1985 a divine liturgical service was conducted with a large congregation in attendance. The first Scripture lesson was read by Father Clarke.

Hundreds of men women and children who had been receiving lessons from Kesis Tesfa Selassie (Donald Newman) of St. Kitts were baptized and confirmed and instructed in the teachings and doctrine of the church. On Sunday evening a meeting was held with the newly baptized members and officers were elected to the Board Of Trustees and Brotherhood and Sisterhood Societies. The mission was named St. Gabriel. The Party left the next day for New York, after giving thanks to the Almighty for this wonderful opportunity to expound the teachings of Our Lord Eyesus Kristos.(Yesehaq, 194)

The United States

Los Angeles

The first parish in Los Angeles was established on February 27, 1973, through the invitation of an interested group led by Anthony Hamilton, known as Amde Tsion. Later Hamilton was ordained priest with several deacons.  This church was dedicated to Saint Tekle Haimanot, the Ethiopian national saint and was located at 4305 Degnan Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90008. In later years this church was under the administration of Abba Gabre Tsadik and Abuna Yeshehaq. Abba Gebre Tsadik is presently living in Hawaii teaching the people there who are interested in the Church, Kidis Mariam Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Mission-Maui, Hawaii.

Kesis Amde Tsion his predecessor (Anthony Hamilton) was and is a visionary. As a member of the Watts Prophets, Kesis Amde Tsion saw a rainbow of hope at the end of a long tunnel of despair - the Watts Riot. From the ashes of the Watts Riot, he saw the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church as that hope.

Watts Riots
Anthony Hamilton then organized a group of African Americans to form an Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church Mission. The Holy Liturgy was conducted in English and in Geez. This Church was open to all people, particularly African Americans and West Indians.
Due to the large amount of Ethiopian Nationals in Los Angeles an additional parish was established in 1983 dedicated to Saint Mary of Zion. Father Amde Tsion and Abba Yesehaq did great works with the community of Watts California and with the Youth Gang Home for Young Men. Bob Marley also visited the church in Watts at the request of Father Tsion. Father Tsion was skilled with pen and speech; a poet with The Watts Prophets.
Church missions were also established in the communities of San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, and Washington D.C.


The Ethiopian Church in Canada was established by Abuna Yesehaq then Abba Laike Mandefro on July 23, 1972. It is located at 425 Vaughan Road, in Toronto, Ontario, in a building which was purchased by the faithful. For thirteen years, services had been conducted at the St. James Bond United Church premises through the kindness of their membership. The church is headed by an archpriest
(L. K. Messale Engeda). The membership is Western-born as well as Ethiopian.(Yesehaq, 195)
Mother Divine