Sunday, February 02, 2014

Politics at root of quarrels, say church members

(Feb 02, 2014, (Winnipeg Free Press))--'We do not have political agenda:' dissidents. It's not money, bad bylaws, or a too-powerful priest causing a rift in a Winnipeg Ethiopian Orthodox church, but politics back home. That's according to more than two dozen church members who say a group of dissidents is wielding accusations of financial mismanagement and bad governance to weaken the church, because most parishioners do not support the current regime in Ethiopia.

Ethiopian Orthodox Church in Winnipeg (Credit:
Winnipeg Free Press)
The dissidents, several of whom helped to found the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church on Mountain Avenue years ago, have complained formally to the Canada Revenue Agency about $65,000 in charitable donations they say ended up in the priest's personal bank account.

They've also raised concerns about improper board elections, the lack of financial transparency and new bylaws that appear to invest significant power in the hands of the priest instead of the board. In turn, the church's board hired a lawyer last fall, barred the dissidents from Sunday services, and threatened legal action.

But church members, who gathered recently to offer their version of the rift following a story last month in the Winnipeg Free Press, say the real trouble began a year ago when Ethiopia's repressive Prime Minister Meles Zenawi died.

The dissidents wanted to pray for Zenawi, but other church members balked at praying for a leader whose regime was noted by Human Rights Watch for its "harsh intolerance for any criticism of government actions and a sharp decline in freedoms of expression and association." "That's why we're here (in Canada)," said Tigist Aderu, a church member. "There was no sense praying for a prime minister we fled from." Read more from Winnipeg Free Press »

Related topics:
Controversy splits city Ethiopian church

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