Serawite Kristos Mahber

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History and ministry

(1) Early years

Alfred Buxton (1891-1940, Bible Churchmen’s Missionary Society) believed that the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church was the key to a national revival. During his first visit to Ethiopia he met with Hakim Worqneh Eshete (alias Dr Charles Martin, Governor of the Province of Chercher), Blatten Geta Heruy Wolde Selassie (Foreign Minister), Abuna Qerellos IV (Archbishop of the EOTC) and the Ichege of the monastery in Debre Libanos (the chief abot is second only to the Abuna).


Four Ethiopians joined Alfred Buxton in _ _ _, who had been in his Bible class on his previous visit:

“These four young men of high standing in the country had surrendered position, salaries and lands to give their lives to preaching the Gospel. One, Haile Gabriel, had been Sub-Governor of the Province of Harrar. Two others, Werku and Abeba [Retta?], together with Haile, had been selected by the Emperor for their intelligence and sent to Egypt for further education and were working in a Government office. The fourth, Thomasgn, ws a member of the ruling class, an Amhara from Gojjam, the son of a priest and himslef trained in the priests’ school.” (Grubb, Buxton, p. 133-34)

twelve preachers (cf. BCMS history):

“[1] Haile Gabriel and [2] his wife, [3] Thomasgn, [4] Abeba, [5] Werku, [6] Qanaa, [7] Aleme, [8] Haile Mariam, [9] Bekele, [10] Admasu, and two monks, [11] Gebra Mariam and [12] Jacob”

(2) After World War II

The fellowship was mainly located in Fiche (the centre of the Semien Shewa Zone of Oromia Region)

Launhardt, Evangelicals in Addis Ababa, p. 65, on Bible Churchmen’s Missionary Society (BCMS): 

“With the Italian occupation, Mr Buxton’s work and for the time being the whole work of the BCMS in Ethiopia, came to an end. After World War II, literary work was restarted, a Bible School reopened at Fiche, and some new programs commenced by the BCMS.”

The members of Serawite Kristos Mahber included:

Hymn Book

Mäzmurä bǝrhan [መዝሙረ ብርሃን, Songs of Light]. Addis Ababa: Serawite Kristos Mahber, 1955/56 (1948 AM).

» View book
(added is Marianne Nilsson’s transcription
of selected melodies)


Haile Gabriel:

Adapted from Grubb, Buxton, after p. 112

Werku (later killed):

Adapted from Grubb, Baxton, after p. 112

Group at the BCMS mission station in Addis Ababa:

First row, 3rd from left: Alfred Buxton, with Werku to his right.
Top row, 3rd from left: Mrs Colin McKenzie, with
Haile Gabriel and Thomasgn standing on her right
(Adapted from Grubb, Buxton, after p. 128)

Further reading

Buxton, Edith. Reluctant Missionary. London, etc.: Hodder and Stoughton, 1968.

Grubb, Norman. Alfred Buxton of Abyssinia and Congo. London and Redhill: Lutterworth, 1942. [View online]

Launhardt, Johannes. Evangelicals in Addis Ababa (1919-1991): With special reference to the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus and the Addis Ababa Synod. Münster: Lit Verlag, 2004.

(?) Sæverås, Olav. On Church-mission relations in Ethiopia 1944-1969: With special reference to the Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus and the Lutheran missions. [Oslo:] Lunde, 1974