On the weekend of July 28th-30th, by the Grace of God, The Eritrean Orthodox Tewahdo Church Diocese of the U.S.A. & Canada Sunday School convened its 12th Annual Conference hosted by Tsirha Ariam Kidist Silassie Church in Temple Hills, Maryland. The theme verse of the conference was 2nd Maccabees 7:2 , “We are ready to die, rather than transgress the laws of our Fathers.” Approximately 300 attendees were in attendance the conference, this included our Father monk and Priest Fathers, Aba GebreSelassie, Keshi Reisom, Keshi Hagos, Keshi Abay, Keshi Kiflemariam, Keshi TsegezeAb, Keshi Efrem, Keshi Habteab, Keshi Teklebrhan, along with deacons, choirs, Tewahdo Christian youth and adults from all over the United States and Canada.
On Friday morning we began with The Trisagion Prayer (Tselote Kidan) by our Father Aba GebreSelassie, and continued with a Welcome and Thanks by Father Keshi Teklebrhan. We sung Hymns, including “Habene Egzio”, meaning “Give us O Lord”, as a congregation, and a Wereb by Our Father Priests and Deacons, “Sibhat leAb, Ahazie kulu Alem”, or “Glory be to the Father who holds all the world”. Our brother Deacon ZeAmanuel began with a teaching of the Order of the Church, and the Eritrean Monastery Project (Gedamat Project) and continued with question and answer. From there, our Father Keshi HabteAb, gave a Sermon on what it means to say that “We are ready to die, rather than transgress the laws of our Fathers.”
We then continued, with our brother Dn. Medhanie giving more insight into the Law of our Fathers, the Law of the Church, that was given to them by God to protect the Holy and righteous way of life. Continued by our sister Sara, an introduction to TYOM, the Tewahdo Youth Outreach Ministry and the work that it has done throughout the U.S. & Canada, by the will of God, to bring diaspora youth to the Tewahdo faith, throughout the past 7 years. From programs that have been incorporated geared toward high school students about topics ranging from what it means to be Tewahdo, to peer pressure and relationships under the Light of God Campaign, Tewahdo Young Adults targeting English speaking youth, Servant’s Conference for youth who want to become more involved, and firm in the teachings of the church and the Ambassadors Program which finds individuals from their respective churches to represent TYOM.
We then had the exciting news introduced by our brother Dn. Ermias of having a SerAte Kidase (The Divine Liturgy) book, along with a Prayer Book that has Wudase Mariam (Praises of St. Mary), Agpeya & Daily prayers all with Geez, English and the transliterations. Our brother also reminded us about the teleconferences that have been going on during the Fasts of our church in English, and by God’s grace, have continued as of the last fast of Tsome Filseta, The Fast of the Assumption of St. Mary. We continued by signing the Hymn,“Egziabher Ymesgen”; or “Lord, We Thank You”; and we then proceeded to an agape lunch blessed through our Fathers, and provided by our mothers of the Tsirha Aryam Kidist Silassie Church & Hamere Noh Kidist Mariam Church.
After concluding Lunch with prayer, a beautiful wereb was presented by our fellow deacons and choir singing, “Sibhat leAb, leWeld, le Menfes Kudus”, meaning “Glory be to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”. We continued praising the Lord through singing more Hymns, including “Smki Tsewie, maas hafire”, “I called your name (Virgin St. Mary) never shy”. Our sister Ditta, presented a poem engaging the people as a whole in relation to the verse of this years conference. As a congregation we sang the Hymn “Ile teneberu tensiu”.
In continuation, we had an engaging panel discussion with our Father Priests, and deacons alike, including Father Keshi TsegezeAb, Father Keshi HabteAb, Dn. Kibrom, and Dn. Filmon. They discussed what it means to be Spiritual; servantry, how a servant should be seen inside and outside the church; peer pressure, and how it affects the youth of today’s era. We had an engrossing Q&A and as a congregation we continued to glorify the Lord through the Hymn “Egziabher Habene Lisan”, or “Lord give us the ability to profess” that radiated throughout the hall, with every beat of the drum, and the voice of everyone in unison, Glory be to God that brought us all together.
The Tsirha Aryam Kidist Silassie & Hamere Noh Kidist Mariam Church Choir prepared a beautiful Wereb-“Yihieseni hige Afuke” or “It holds me together, the law of your mouth”. Glory be to God, the Youth Ambassadors program then presented Hymns in Geez, and English, including “NAmin BeAb” (“We Believe in the Father”), “Seali Lene Mariam” (“Plead for Us Mariam”), and “Urael Melake Selam” (“Urael the Angel of Peace”). Afterwards, our brother Dn. Medhanie gave a sermon on the uniqueness of the Orthodox Tewahdo Church, and the place it holds in our hearts. The Tsirha Ariam Kidist Silassie Church Choir praised God through a wonderful Wereb preceding various beautiful and insightful spoken words and poems that were presented by our sisters Ditta, Bethlehem, Heaven and Luwam.
On Saturday, we had an agape breakfast provided by the wonderful mothers of The Tsirha Ariam Kidist Silassie Church. We continued the day beginning with our brother Dn. Kibrom giving a sermon on the Laws of our church, What it means to be Tewahdo, and how we can follow the laws passed down by our fathers. The Tewahdo Youth Outreach Ministry (TYOM) delivered an insightful Research Study regarding the Youth in the Diaspora and how we must become active in reaching out to them, as our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ told us to go and Shepherd the one lost sheep, even amongst the 99 that are still in His house. As we concluded the Saturday evening portion, it was voted that the board members would serve for another 3 years.
Sunday Afternoon, after The Divine Liturgy, we had an Exhibition. The Exhibition ranged from topics about Salvation in the Tewahdo Orthodox Concept, how to lead a Holy life, the sin of Guayla/Dance, and Outreach for Youth Servantry in the Church. All thanks be to God, for allowing us to come together to worship, & praise His name. We cannot wait to gather again to honor him.
Glory be to the Father, the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now, and forever, unto the ages of ages, Amen.