port of harlem magazine

September 7 - Sepember 20, 2007


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Ethiopians / Harlemites Celebrate Year 2000 on Ethiopian Calendar

September 11, 2007 marks the eve of the year 2000 according to the ancient Ethiopian calendar. Ethiopia and those in the Ethiopian Diaspora measure time using the Kenn Mekuteria, a calendar combining the ancient Egyptian and Julian calendars. 

Calvin Butts IIIAt the dawn of the new millennium, The Abyssinian Baptist Church of Harlem continues its 18-month bicentennial celebration, Abyssinian 200: True to Our God, True to Our Native Land, by returning to its roots – Ethiopia, Saturday, September 15.  The Church will also hold a Bon Voyage Block party after the Sunday, September 9 service starting at 1:30p until 3p in front of the church on West 138th Street between Malcolm X and Adam Clayton Powell Blvds.

The church’s history is steep in Pan-Africanism:  In 1808, after refusing to participate in segregated worship services at a lower Manhattan church, a group of free Africans in America and Ethiopian sea merchants formed their own church, naming it Abyssinian Baptist Church in honor of Abyssinia, the former name of Ethiopia.

In 1954, former Ethiopian Emperor, Haile Selassie I, presented Abyssinian’s pastor, Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., with the Ethiopian Coptic Cross.  This cross has since become the official symbol of the church.

During the trip, the current pastor, Dr. Calvin Butts III, and members of the 150-person Abyssinian pilgrimage will assess economic, health, education and social needs of the Ethiopian people to determine how the Church can specifically apply its resources to encourage advancement in the country.  They will also visit hospitals, schools, World Heritage sites and the Holy City of Axum, the presumed location of the Ark of the Covenant – a sacred container holding the Ten Commandments stone tablets. 

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