The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is one of the few Christian churches in sub-Saharan Africa originating before European colonization of the continent. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church dates back centuries, and has a current membership of about 36 million people, the majority of whom live in Ethiopia. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church had been administratively part of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria from the first half of the 4th century until 1959, when it was granted autocephaly with its own patriarch by Saint Pope Cyril VI of Alexandria, Pope of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria. It is one of the oldest Christian churches. Following the independence of Eritrea as a nation in 1993, the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church in 1994 appointed an Archbishop for the Eritrean Orthodox Tewahedo Church, which in turn obtained autocephaly in 1998 with the reluctant approval of its mother synod. That same year, the first Eritrean patriarch was consecrated.

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