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New bishop tasked with training leaders for Ethiopia’s fast-growing churches

Posted on: September 19, 2019 10:59 AM
Bishop Mouneer Anis and Bishop Rajan Jacob at the consecration in Gambella
Photo Credit: Diocese of Egypt

[ACNS by Rachel Farmer] A new area bishop for the rapidly growing churches in the Gambella region of Ethiopia has been given the important task of training up Christian leaders.

Speaking at the consecration of Rajan Jacob as Area Bishop for Gambella, the Bishop of Egypt with North Africa and the Horn of Africa, Dr Mouneer Anis, said raising up and training Christian leaders would be the bishop’s most important job.

Bishop Mouneer said: “the mission for which God [has] chosen you is to build His kingdom in Gambella. This will require that your priority is to develop local leaders to take over the responsibilities from you. Count it a great joy when you leave behind local leaders who continue the work you have begun.”

Rajan Jacob, who was the Archdeacon of Gambella, was consecrated in All Saints Cathedral, Cairo, on 11 September by the Archbishop of Jerusalem and the Middle East, Suheil Dawani.  

The church in Ethiopia has been growing rapidly in the past few years mainly due to the Sudanese refugees who fled Sudan and South Sudan and brought their faith into the refugee camps in the Gambella region of the country, which borders South Sudan.

Bishop Mouneer said: “when the war erupted between the north and the south, many women and children walked to Gambella to find shelter. They were kept in refugee camps. They built Anglican churches in these camps and we provided pastoral care and support for these churches.”

New generations became Ethiopian citizens and settled outside the refugee camps. In 2000, when Dr Anis became a bishop, there were just seven churches. Bishop Mouneer said: “the potential for growth was great, and so I appointed Bishop Andrew Proud as an area bishop for the Horn of Africa. By 2011 the number of churches became 100. Bishop Grant LeMarquand followed Bishop Andrew, and he established St Frumentius Bible School in Gambella to train local church leaders.”

The number of churches continued to and now there are some 140 churches with a strong Mothers’ Union.

“In December 2018 we decided to make Gambella a separate Episcopal Area and appointed Bishop Rajan to give oversight to this area,” said Bishop Mouneer. “I have learned that in order to grow the church it is important to share my episcopal ministry as a diocesan bishop.”

Along with training leaders, Bishop Rajan’s new role will include overseeing community development projects such as a boarding school for girls, a school for the underprivileged, a clean-water project, and small business ventures, as well as continuing to promote peace-building through youth ministry and the Mother’s Union.  

A native of India, Bishop Rajan trained for ministry at Tamilnadu Theological Seminary.  Before his ordination, he taught theology and served in the Church of South India for over 20 years. After being ordained in 2015 he became Priest in Charge of Christ the King Anglican Church in Tripoli, Libya.  He was appointed Archdeacon of Gambella, Ethiopia in 2018. The bishop and his wife, Dr Ruby Ebenezar, have two children.

Last year the new St Frumentius Anglican Theological College, established in 2015, celebrated the graduation of its first students. Two of the seven graduates were refugees and the others were from two different ethnic groups that have a history of conflict.