'Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit'
St Matthew 28: 19
Charity No. 282910
“The ardent shepherd who does not fall asleep will take care of our church in peace”
Ever since the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church started to be led by its own Synod, she has through the efforts of the archbishops, clergy and laity installed five Patriarchs to be the ardent shepherds and guardians of the Church. The tradition and regulation stipulates that when a patriarch departs due to a new Patriarch assumed the position within 40 – 80 days after the death of the Patriarch. Consistent with the regulation and tradition, the General Assembly of the Holy Synod on 19th December 2012, constituted an Election Committee of thirteen persons, composed of archbishops, representatives of the office of the Patriarchate and of the diocesan offices, Sunday Schools and from Mehibre Kidusan. The Holy Synod also laid down the guidelines of the workings of the committee.
The first meeting of the Committee took place on 25th December 2012 in the presence of the custodian of the Patriarchal See. In this meeting ten members of the committee were present. The other three members were absent due to illness and other engagements. In this very first meeting the participants introduced each other, reviewed in broad terms what their task entails and agreed on the date of the next meeting.
Since the election regulation article 6(c) stipulates that only the Holy Synod will nominate the Chairperson, vice chairperson and secretary of the Election Committee, the Election Committee members met the members of the standing committee of the Holy Synod and explained the difficulties of meeting this requirement under the actual condition.
The members of the standing committee of the Holy Synod made a swift response and nominated the Chairperson, vice chairperson and secretary of the committee. The Holy Synod made the appropriate instructions to the office of the patriarchate to make arrangements for the provision of an office space and related facilities for the committee. The committee would like to thank the members of the standing committee for their devoted work and support. When the chairperson, due to other engagements could not avail himself for the work of the committee, the Election Committee continued its work under the leadership of the vice chairperson, His Grace Abune Kilementos.
The first task of the Election committee as per the Election Regulations was to draw an action plan and to nominate the members of a sub-committee which would draw up the guidelines for the operations of the Election Committee. Those members of the Church who took this responsibility worked rigorously and presented the results of their work on 4th February 2013. The Election Committee looked in depth at the action plan, made corrections where necessary, and decided unanimously to present this action plan to the Holy Synod standing committee on 6th February 2013.
The standing Committee of the Holy Synod looked at the action plan and budget for the election process of the sixth patriarch and endorsed it after some adjustments. A budget of ETB 3,650,000 was approved to cover the travel and other costs of over 800 voters coming from different parts of the country. This budget was administered by the Finance and Budget Department of the head office of the Patriarchate.
The election and installation dates of the sixth Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church were then set down. These dates were made public by the election committee in the meeting of the Holy Synod of 7th February 2013.
During the period 8 – 15 February 2013, the election committee accomplished the following major works:
Archbishops, clergy and laity have been asked to pray to the Lord so that He avails a worthy leader to the Church
Establish sub-committees which are crucial to the election process
Wrote letters to the persons/bodies nominated by the Holy Synod to be members of the Election Committee
Called upon the clergy and laity to forward names of candidates for the position of Patriarch of the Ethiopian Ortrhodox Tewahido Church.
The sub-committees which were formed were the following:
1. Voters’ registration and Control sub-committee
2. Public Relations and Publications sub-Committee
3. Logistics sub-committee
4. Finance and Budget sub-committee
The sub-committees members came from the head office of the Patriarchate, youth of the Sunday schools and Mehibre Kidusan, and their total number was thirty.
The members of the Election Committee made a general statement on the election process at a press conference for the domestic and international press agencies. Throughout an attempt has been made to ensure that all statements made pertaining to the election were confirmed by the Election committee members.
At one point, an inaccurate statement was transmitted by the Ethiopian radio and television agency, related to the church’s call on the clergy and laity for prayers was wrongly communicated. Whereupon the Election Committee quickly corrected the mistake, and the public was informed accordingly.
A second press conference was arranged on 15th February 2013 on the nominations made by clergy and laity. During 16 - 21 February 2013, the Election Committee screened the nominations. The Election Committee received 2790 nominations of which 15 were not properly filed. Archbishops and department heads of the head office of the Patriarchate were exempted from disclosing their names when making nominations.
However, the clergy and laity were required to possess documents from their parishes establishing their identities for making nominations.
The Election Committee, in its discussions during 16 – 21 February 2013, indentified five Archbishops who were eligible to be Patriarch.
It segregated those, who due to age and other objectives criteria couldn’t be included on the candidates’ list. Based on this, the consolidated names of nineteen archbishops were eligible for the next round screening process. The Election Committee members based on the election regulation, conducted extensive discussions, and made ready eight Archbishops the final round in the election process. Of the eight Archbishops, five were unanimously selected as candidates. They were:
His Grace Abune Mathias – Archbishop of the Ethiopian monasteries in Jerusalem
His Grace Abune Elsa – Archbishop of North Gondar diocese
His Grace Abune Yoseph – Archbishop of Bale diocese
His Grace Abune Matheos – Archbishop of Wolaita and Dawro diocese
His Grace Abune Hizkel – Secretary of the Holy Synod and Archbishop of south and west Addis Ababa diocese and Archbishop of the diocese of Keffa Benchi and Maji
The curriculum vitae of these Archbishops, together with the minutes of the Election Committee discussions, were presented to the Holy Synod.
The Holy Synod in its meeting of 23rd February 2013 accepted the proposed candidates for the position of Patriarch. This acceptance was confirmed in a formal letter written to the Election Committee. Due to various reasons the time schedule for the registration process could not be respected. Thus, on the decision of the Election Committee, the registration process was completed on 27th February 2013. Those who were registered included five Egyptian Archbishops, Archbishops of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church, clergy and laity. However, the Egyptian fathers and other Archbishops who did not register on the decision of the Election Committee, were allowed to register and vote on the Election Day, and this they did.
On 28th February 2013, starting at 08:00 in the morning, the election of the sixth Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church was conducted as per the schedule at the Evangelical Hall in the head office of the Patriarchate.
The election observers ensured that the voting boxes were empty. The boxes were sealed after the casting of the votes in the presence of the election observers.
Of the 808 voters who were registered, 806 Archbishops, clergy and laity cast their votes. The voting came to an end at 6:35pm on 28th February 2013.
One voting card was invalid since it did not carry an emblem.
After the voting was completed, the votes were counted at the Evangelical Hall in the presence of the election observers. The results of this count were:
His Grace Abune Mathias, 500 votes
His Grace Abune Elsa, 39 votes
His Grace Abune Yoseph, 98 votes
His Grace Abune Matheos, 98 votes
His Grace Abune Hizkel, 70 votes
Based on the above results, His Grace Abune Mathias, who received 500 votes from among 806 voters, was duly elected sixth Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church. The Election observers in their report to the Election Committee have testified that there were no flaws in the election process.
On behalf of the Election Committee, I want to thank all of you who, through prayers and otherwise contributed to the realisation of the election of the sixth Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahido Church.
May God Compensate you for all your support and contribution.
Picture provided by OCP Media Network (http://theorthodoxchurch.info)