Odd day to introduce myself

Hi my name is James, I am a convert to the Ethiopian Tawedho Orthodox Church by baptism to merry my wife in Addis Ababa, now I'm back in the states, here in California.

Forgive me for any misspelling or the long post, sometimes I'm poor at clearifying, plus my grandmother died today.

I was baptized Lutheran as a baby, my Grandmother family were Lutherans for to the mixed German background , it a sad state to see what Lutheranism has become , yet anyways, fast forward to 2016 I joined the Greek Orthodox by Baptism because my grandma ironicly couldn't find my baptismal certificate for chrismation, until after my baptism, my spiritual father or father of confession in the Greek church was a Romanian, I learned a lot, so despite the modernist turns the Greek Church has went, I dotn feel bitter or have regrets, the lord is in control, all I have is the free will to choose or neglect.

Fast forward to 2020 , i meet a Ethiopian Orthodox woman, we fall in love , I went to Addis Ababa in 2021, everything is perfect, she very religious but had no clue if I had to be baptized into the EOTC, and her Abuna said of course so I was baptized on feburary 19th 2022 in Addis Ababa at Mehkane St. kirkos, having my wife see my naked before I get married felt odd, but she didnt care, and somehow they fit me in the font and got it done, but really question is the lord happy or mad I got baptized three times, does it not say "one baptism for the remission of sins, we got married a little while after like a few days, Ethiopians are the best hosts and have the most beautiful marriage cermony.

Now I'm back in California, very fewer EOTC churches near by, the ones about a hour and a half away never call back or return emails, I know the Abunes are busy, and overwhelmed, I just wish for clear answers like "maybe look at the coptic Church, closer to you, maybe look at other Ethiopian Churches or come and see let's take it from there", I know converts can be crazy but my convertisis stage burned out back when I was still with the Greeks, I just want a Oriental Orthodox Church to commune, pray and confess at, and the people are decent to me, not have to be fantastic, as long as I'm worshipping Christ in a canonical church. I been worshipping at a Coptic Church now since the first Subday of Great Lent, since it closet to me, and I have to say I love the Agaphyea prayers, the Holy week services, the people are friendly, I have to remember not to tell a Coptic or Arabic person I like somthing of theirs, they will literally give it to me, the liturgy I like it a lot, it different from the byzantine rite but once you get use to it, more cohesive, if I can use a term. I will be posting asking questions on issues Coptic views on finding a father of Confession, divorce anullments, excommunication, intercession of Saints, sign of cross (still crossing myself right to left people notice but coptic people cross themselves so fast I dont know how to do it like that), I had no catechism at all into Oriental Orthdoxy, so I'm like a baby again.


  • Dear @Ethioconvert84,
    May the Lord rest her soul in peace and give you strength and comfort.. Welcome to the forum..
    Ⲟⲩϫⲁⲓ ϧⲉⲛ ⲡϭⲥ
  • hi james, thanks for sharing with us.
    before i reply i'll tell you the briefest version of my story (usually takes 2 or 3 pages!)
    i was agnostic till age 5, then followed parents into protestant church (they converted from atheist backgrounds), then protestant for around 30 years, then orthodox for over 10 years.
    my husband remained protestant (there are no kids).
    wow, that is the briefest version I ever managed!
    i don't have any theological qualifications, but have completed a bit of church servant training and have read a lot of church history.
    i would have been equally happy in the eastern orthodox family of churches, indeed a friend who had a similar (solo) journey into the church is now EO priest.

    may God comfort you for the departure of your grandmother

    as for protestant baptisms, they are generally (with exceptions) not sacramental - eg. sometimes they go out of their way to say 'this is just a sign' and 'this is just normal water'.
    so, if your lutheran church did not expect you to be filled with the Holy Spirit at your baptism, then it was not sacramental, and it is good to do it 'properly'.
    i know some EO churches are not very strict with this, but i think it is good to do it 'properly' if there has been some missing element of receiving the grace of God.
    also, orthodox baptism is by immersion (unless person is very sick, there is drought etc. etc.), but this is a less important point.

    the ethiopian priest was not following the usual practice for most orthodox churches - they all reached an agreement that they should chrismate, not rebaptise.

    but it is important in orthodox Christianity to learn to submit to your leaders, not to reinvent Christianity, so there is nothing wrong with what you have done.

    in the unlikely event that your priest in addis ababa would like to discuss the rebaptism issue, he can open a separate 'thread' for that, this is not important here.

    what you have done is fine, you don't need to worry that you have upset God.
    however, you are doing the best thing which is to look for a confession father, and then you can explain your situation (be patient with the priest, he may raise an eyebrow or two!)

    you do need to confess before Holy Communion, so please ask the priest when he will have time to see you. if there is more than one priest, just be honest and ask them who has the earliest slot.
    about the nakedness issue - whoa, we don't do that! everyone (including close family, unless the person is a small child) goes out while the person being baptised puts on a robe, usually a spare one of the ones the subdeacons use.
    historically, yes Christians were baptised naked, but the person would have just one assistant (of the same sex) helping him / her get in the font while everyone else is out, and then ppl would come back only when the naked person was immersed. so that is a bit different in our church.
    otherwise there are not many differences - our bread is slightly better, but then who could ever refuse delicious injera? yum! ethiopian / eritrean food is a bit like egyptian / sudanese food with added ginger - yum! but ours is not bad.
    egyptians are noisier (no competition there), but both groups are very hospitable, as you noted, which is so lovely for ppl like me (and you, i assume) who need food / hugs!

    the sign of the cross is basically the same, just do left shoulder first.
    i always do it the EO way in EO churches, it is not a theological difference, so does not matter how you do it.

    is your wife with you? does she have an opinion about churches?
    will you live in ethiopia?
    (feel free to ignore these questions if too personal, or send a personal message, but these answers will help you to plan where to go next).
    generally i would not recommend ppl live in different countries for more than a month or two, it really does very bad things to the relationship, i have seen it too many times (including in orthodox churches). also i am married to someone from a different country, but we ended up living in my country for various reasons (would be happy to switch).
    also sometimes ppl from wealthy countries think that automatically the couple has to live in the wealthier country - there is no theological / Biblical reason for this, so beware of this mind set as it may not be helpful.

    sorry it is a long answer, i pray that God will guide you in the right way for you - i don't know you, so please feel free to ignore my answer if it does not agree with the advice given from your confession father (once you have one).
    may God give you and all your family / friends grace and peace of the resurrection
  • Hello James, it was a delight hearing about your experience and walk with God, so I have to start by thanking you for your heartwarming story.

    I'm not sure about Copts crossing themselves very fast. In my experience Coptic Christians cross themselves at a rather normal pace, especially liturgically. I only remember seeing Greek Melkites cross once with my eyes and the ones I saw did it extremely fast (when they crossed themselves three times). Maybe both of these perspectives of mine are just anomalies.

    As for your being rebaptized: it isn't a black and white issue. Historically, Melkites and other heretics were not necessarily baptized, neither were full-on Nestorians. But, since the Melkites have been separated from the True Church for over 1400 years, it is understandable that the Ethiopian position is more strict, since throughout this time they have hardened their hearts further into heresy and disregarded the true teachings of the Council of Ephesus, which they falsely claim to accept.

    This leads me to congratulate you and your lovely wife in finding (as you put it) a legitimate church to be married in and receive sacraments in. I would highly encourage you to look at all of the other Orthodox churches in addition to the Coptic and Tewahedo traditions, namely; the Syriac Orthodox, the Indian jurisdiction of the Syriac Orthodox, and the Armenian Orthodox, as it is very endearing to see how the rest of the Orthodox Church practices the same faith in radically different ways that all trace back to the 4th century and usually much earlier.

    All of the Orthodox churches cross themselves left to right, which is the original practice. The Byzantines and the Assyrians seem to have started making the sign of the cross differently to distinguish themselves, and they would use two fingers to represent two natures or hypostases which they divided Christ into. Now, the Melkites cross themselves with three fingers which is the general way, but they have retained the newer practice of crossing right to left. It's not a faith-changing deal, but it is more authentic to cross oneself left to right just as it is more authentic to cross with three fingers instead of say, five.

    For a spiritual father, you should try going to one parish pretty consistently so that you can get to know the priest and the priest can get to know you. He can answer any of the very practical questions that you may have and tailor them to your situation. It goes without saying of course that we believe very strongly in the intercession of saints and it's all throughout our liturgy - especially the most central parts.

    Again, I'd like to congratulate you on being received into the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Orthodox Church of God in Ethiopia, and I'd further like to warmly welcome you in finding a home in the Coptic church.

    May God further bless you during the paschal season,
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