The East Gambella Bethel Synod is located on the western border of Ethiopia. It is part of the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY), a Protestant Church of Ethiopia with roots in the mission efforts of European Lutherans and American Presbyterians. Formed in the mid-1950s with 40,000 members, the EECMY now has over 5 million members. East Gambella Bethel Synod originated with the work of American Presbyterian missionary Don McClure who, at the height of his missionary career in the Sudan, sought support and authorization to minister to the Annuak people in Gambella, the Nile River basin area of western Ethiopia.
Olivet’s exploration of a partnership with the East Gambella Bethel Synod began in 2009 after many years of engagement with and support of mission initiatives of another Synod in the western part of Ethiopia. This partnership allows us to experience concretely the reality of the oneness that we share as brothers and sisters in Christ despite differences of culture, race and language. It also provides opportunities for mutual encouragement, mutual renewal, mutual service and mutual transformation. It fosters an ongoing, deepening relationship that enables human, cultural, financial and spiritual resources to be shared so that both Olivet and the East Gambella Bethel Synod may be strengthened. Through prayer, humility and openness to one another, this partnership will foster a cooperative witness that exalts the Lord we serve.