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Hurricane-damaged church to be rededicated

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Thirteen years after Hurricane Fabian struck Emmanuel Ethiopian Orthodox Church its congregation has now proudly reclaimed its place of worship.

Tomorrow's ceremony of rededication closes years of hard work, as the church hall's glowing interior attests.

Bible scenes line the walls, the canvases brightly painted in the traditional Ethiopian style, and the woodwork damaged by leaks has been restored.

“All is well now,” the Reverend Edwin Simons, whose Orthodox title is Qes Haile Tsion, told The Royal Gazette.

After Fabian, water from the damaged roof tarnished the elaborate beams, sacred artwork, floors and carpets, and even the ceremonial vessels and vestments.

There was some assistance from the Bermuda Government: the listed building, once a garrison chapel, has been well maintained for decades.

Even with the roof repaired, moisture still came through the walls, explained Melake Selam Dagnachew Kassahun, whose title in the Amharic tongue means Angel of Peace.

The wrath of nature was not over — hurricanes Fay and Gonzalo in 2014 delivered a double punch.

Darick Thompson, who uses the Orthodox name of Habte Selassie, pointed out the beams high above where he worked from a scaffolding.

“It has been a labour of love,” he said.

The work on the St George's church shows. Its walls have been scraped, replastered and repainted, pews buffed to a shine.

Along with Acting Governor Ginny Ferson, friends representing churches around the island will attend tomorrow's rededication, which starts at 11am.

It includes members of their sister Egyptian Coptic Church, where their congregation has been worshipping since November 2015 while restorations took place.

Only a Bishop can formally bless a church, Mr Simons said. Visiting dignitary Archbishop Abune Thaddaeus, will be accompanied by Archmandrite Abba Haileyesus Gesses, the head administrator of the Archdiocese, along with Deacon Anselm Estwick.

And, after its first liturgical service in nearly a year, the church will be anointed in holy oil on Sunday, spread from an olive branch.

A little work still remains, said Mr Thompson.

There are a few places in the profusion of vividly coloured Bible scenes that the painter, brought in from Ethiopia, wanted to add to before his work permit ran out.

“They all tell the story of the life of Jesus Christ,” Mr Simons explained.

“When we are at church, if our minds wander, they wander to the paintings and are brought back to the convictions that we are here to worship.”

Back to best: Darick Thompson tunes a Funde African drum, as the island's Ethiopian Orthodox congregation prepares for a service to redecicate their hurricane-damaged church (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Labour of love: the revived Ethiopian Orthodox Church (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Rededication service: Kes Haile Tsion, left, and Reverend Edwin Simons (Photograph by Akil Simmons)
Bible scenes: cover the interior of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

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Published September 16, 2016 at 9:00 am (Updated September 16, 2016 at 6:25 am)

Hurricane-damaged church to be rededicated

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