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Ethiopia Evangelicals credit ministry for growth

The leader of one of the world's fastest-growing churches, the Ethiopian Evangelical Church Mekane Yesus (EECMY), attributes its growth to the "holistic ministry" practiced by his church.

EECMY was formally established in 1959, uniting various congregations resulting from the ministry of northern European - mainly Lutheran - missionaries in the 19th century. According to 1996 figures EECMY has 2.1 million members (out of Ethiopia's population of 56 million).Church membership is increasing by about 200,000 - 10 percent - every year. The growth is all the more remarkable as Ethiopia has long had two very strong religious traditions, Islam, which 40 to 45 percent of Ethiopians follow, and Orthodox Christianity, to which an estimated 35 to 40 percent of the population belong.