Last Thursday Katie , Toni and I went to a candlelight vigil at St. Marys Ethiopian Cathedral. The vigil was held for the 30 Ethiopian Christians killed in Libya. Now the service itself wasn’t much different than the one we attend every week at Assumption Cathedral. ( You know, a two to three hour service , in a strange language and you are standing most of the time). However there were two differences that I was unaware of. First, there is a rack in the front of the Church. Hanging from this rack are hundreds of plastic bags ( like grocery store bags ). These bags are to be used for your shoes, which are to be removed before you enter the Church.
So we take our shoes off , put them in the bags and enter the Church. Then I notice that everyone else is carrying their bags with them. My first thought was ” Oh great, someone will pick up the bag and donate our shoes to some homeless shelter”. Much to my relief, they were still in the lobby as we left the Church.
The second difference was the seating arrangements. Men sat on the left of the Church and women on the right. As a gay man , I found this quite appealing and I may suggest this same arrangement to the Church board at Assumption Cathedral. I did meet a nice man ( Tesva ), who fortunately spoke some English ( My Ethiopian is a bit lacking, like nonexistant ). Tesva translated much of the service for me. Of course this meant that I actually had to pay attention.