The Origins of the New Churches Movement in Southern Ethiopia, 1927-1944

Article excerpt

The Origins of the New Churches Movement in Southern Ethiopia, 1927-1944.

By Brian L. Fargher. Leiden. E. J. Brill, 1996. Pp. xv, 329. $111.

This volume, number sixteen in the series Studies of Religion in Africa: Supplements to the Journal of Religion in Africa, edited by Adrian Hastings and Marc R. Spindler, is the published distillation of a Ph.D. thesis completed in 1988 under the mentorship of Professor A. F. Walls at the University of Aberdeen. While ostensibly about the new churches movement in southern Ethiopia, the book actually focuses almost entirely on the Sudan Interior Mission (SIM) and its offshoot, the Kale Heywat Church. This is understandable, since Fargher spent many years as an SIM missionary in Ethiopia; and it is forgivable, since the Kale Heywat Church is the largest of the authentically Ethiopian non-Orthodox churches, with its 1995 membership of 3.2 million in 3,600 congregations constituting a significant presence in virtually every part of the country.

Fargher follows his brief but thoughtful introductory synopsis of Ethiopian Orthodox Church history with an exploration of theological, missiological, and sociopolitical influences that influenced and delimited the theory and practices of early SIM missionaries. …