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Eritrean Orthodox Church (2000 - Present) - Religious Group

Religious Family: Eastern Liturgical (Orthodox)
Religious Tradition: Orthodox
Description: The Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church is one of the so-called Oriental Orthodox Churches (the others being Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian, Malankara-Indian and Syriac) which, unlike Eastern Orthodox Churches, recognize the validity of theological decisions of only the first three Ecumenical Councils. The Eritrean Orthodox Church has headquarters in Asmara, Eritrea. The Church is seen as the “daughter” of the Coptic Orthodox Church, because of mutually strong cultural ties, and because its autocephaly (full independence) was granted by the head of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Shenouda III, after Eritrea gained its independence from Ethiopia in 1993. The word “Tewahedo” in Ge’ez (the extinct language of the early Aksumite Christians, now used in Eritrean worship services) means "united as one." This refers to the Oriental Orthodox belief (which is different from the Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant Churches) in a single perfectly unified nature of Christ (i.e., a complete union of the divine and human natures). Orthodox Christians from Eritrea began to organize churches in the United States in the 1990s. In 2000, Patriarch Philipos, the first head of the independent Eritrean Orthodox Church, organized the Diocese of North America. However, because of political unrest and conflicts in Eritrea, the Eritrean parishes in America split into several hostile factions. The main bodies of the Eritrean Church in the USA are the Eritrean Orthodox Diocese of North America and the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Diocese of USA and Canada. The former group recognizes Patriarch Antonios as the leader of the Church. Patriarch Antonios was removed from this position under pressure from Eritrean government in 2006 and placed under house arrest. The latter group is loyal to Eritrean government and Patriarch Qerlos, who assumed his office in 2021.
Official Site:

Maps: Eritrean Orthodox Church1

Adherence Rate per 1,000 (2020)

Congregations (2020)

Top 5 Eritrean Orthodox Church States (2020)1 [View all States]

Rank State Congregations Adherents Adherence Rate
1 Maryland 5 7,042 1.14
2 Nevada 1 2,000 0.64
3 Washington 4 3,400 0.44
4 South Dakota 1 336 0.38
5 Minnesota 1 1,500 0.26

Top 5 Eritrean Orthodox Church Counties (2020)1 [View all Counties]

Rank County Congregations Adherents Adherence Rate
1 Harrisonburg city, VA 1 480 9.26
2 Prince George's County, MD 4 6,706 6.93
3 Woodbury County, IA 1 420 3.96
4 Ramsey County, MN 1 1,500 2.72
5 DeKalb County, GA 2 1,875 2.45

Top 5 Eritrean Orthodox Church Metro Areas (2020)1 [View all Metro Areas]

Rank Metro Congregations Adherents Adherence Rate
1 Harrisonburg, VA Metro Area 1 480 3.54
2 Sioux City, IA-NE-SD Metro Area 1 420 2.80
3 Sioux Falls, SD Metro Area 1 336 1.21
4 Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV Metro Area 4 6,706 1.05
5 Las Vegas-Henderson-Paradise, NV Metro Area 1 2,000 0.88


1 The 2020 data were collected by the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies (ASARB) and include data for 372 religious bodies or groups. Of these, the ASARB was able to gather data on congregations and adherents for 217 and on congregations only for 155. [More information on the data sources]

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