Original Research

Identity formation at the dawn of liturgical inculturation in the Ethiopian Episcopal Church

Phumezile Kama, John S. Klaasen
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 79, No 1 | a7992 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v79i1.7992 | © 2023 Phumezile Kama, John S. Klaasen | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 03 August 2022 | Published: 14 March 2023

About the author(s)

Phumezile Kama, Department of Religion and Theology, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa
John S. Klaasen, Department of Religion and Theology, Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of the Western Cape, Cape Town, South Africa


This article reflects on the impact of the inculturation of liturgy in the Ethiopian Episcopal Church (EEC) on identity formation within the context of African Christianity. In the EEC, the quest for African Christian identity formation is essential in understanding the role of black culture at the advent of the inculturation of liturgy. Inculturation can be viewed as the meeting and interaction of the Christian gospel and local cultures where neither the liturgy nor the cultures are superior than the other. Thus, it is vital to understand the inculturation of liturgy and its implications for African Christian identity in the EEC. There is a need for an official guiding principle or doctrinal and theological position on use of language and instruments associated with ancestor veneration at all levels of the EEC. The aim of this article is to clarify how the transformation of the EEC liturgy shaped the African Christianity’s identity of its members. It also attempts to provide clarification on the use of language, symbols, and instruments associated with traditional healers in the liturgy and how it creates identity confusion within the EEC. Lastly, we discuss some of the limitations in the liturgical inculturation endeavour in the EEC.

Contribution: This article contributes to a wider discourse of Christian identity formation from the perspective of the coming together of Christianity and African culture. It also contributes to the quest of EEC members for being authentic Christians while also being proud Africans. Specifically, it contributes to the EEC’s quest for African identity through the inculturation of liturgy.


identity formation; African Christian identity; identity crisis; African Indigenous Churches; liturgy; inculturation.


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