Celebration and community: The Saint Abuna Aregawi celebration at St. Emanuel Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church

On Sunday, October 29th, members of the greater Seattle area’s Orthodox Christian Ethiopian and Eritrean community gathered at the St. Emanuel Ethiopian Orthodox Twahedo Church on Beacon Hill, in Seattle, Washington, to celebrate one of their saints: Abuna Aregawi. Aregawi was a sixth-century Syrian monk one of the nine saints that fled persecution in the Christen Roman Empire (or Byzantium) and established the Debre Damo monastery in Ethiopia. At St. Emanuel’s, Ethiopians and Eritreans celebrated him by telling his story, singing, and danced. (The head priests and some community members had been at the church since 1:00 a.m. that morning for the event.) Additionally, the head priests conducted fundraising for a new church that the congregation plans to build near Skyway. The celebration ended with a community meal.

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A priest from another Ethiopian Orthodox Church adjusts a microphone while candles burn at St. Emanuel Orthodox Ethiopian Church in Beacon Hill in Seattle, WA. on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017.

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Mulu Abesef (left), claps with women while deacons sing and play drums in the front of the room at St. Emanuel Orthodox Ethiopian Church in Beacon Hill in Seattle, Wash. on Sunday, Oct. 29, 2017. “We retell and celebrate the story of Saint Abuna, Aregawi and his journey to Ethiopia,” said Abesef after the celebration.

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Performers sing, beat drums, and dance to symbolize communicating with angels at Saint Emanuel Orthodox Ethiopian Church in Beacon Hill in Seattle, Wash. on Oct. 29, 2017.

 

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A deacon claps while a drummer plays his instrument at St. Emanuel Ethiopian Orthodox Church on Beacon Hill in Seattle, Wash. on Oct. 29, 2017.

 

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Megabi Aelaf Surafel (right), sits alongside priests from other regional orthodox churches while another congregation member speaks at St. Emanuel Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Beacon Hill in Seattle, Wash. on Oct. 29, 2017.

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“Member Daniel” speaks from the pulpit while attendees listen at St. Emanuel Ethiopian Orthodox Church on Beacon Hill in Seattle, Wash. on Oct. 29, 2017

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A congregation member holds out an umbrella for a donation for the new church building at St. Emanuel Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Beacon Hill in Seattle, Wash. on Oct. 29, 2017. The new church will be built on a large parcel near Skyway and will break ground next year, according to Abesef. She added that the community is currently raising money to pay off the cost of the land so that they can get a bank loan to build the structure itself.

 

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Art depicting Jesus and a sheep hangs from a pillar at St. Emanuel Ethiopian Orthodox Church on Beacon Hill in Seattle, Wash. on Oct. 29, 2017.

 

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Attendees bow at the cross at the end of the ceremony at St. Emanuel Ethiopian Orthodox Church on Beacon Hill in Seattle, Wash. on Oct. 29, 2017.

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Two attendees embrace as people move out of the building to an adjacent outdoor tent to eat and drink at St. Emanuel Ethiopian Orthodox Church on Beacon Hill in Seattle, Wash. on Oct. 29, 2017.

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Attendees filter out into the adjacent outdoor tent area where traditional Ethiopian food is served alongside tea, coffee, and an alcoholic beverage consisting of fermented honey and hops at St. Emanuel Ethiopian Orthodox Church on Beacon Hill in Seattle, Wash. on Oct. 29, 2017. “It’s sweet, but watch out; don’t drink too much [of it],” said Abesef.

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Head priest of the church, Ana Zemelak, smiles at a young child after the ceremony during the community meal at St. Emanuel Ethiopian Orthodox Church on Beacon Hill in Seattle, Wash. on Oct. 29, 2017.

 

 

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