The Role of Religious Institutions in Rural community Development: The Case of Sellassie Monastery of Debre Elias Woreda, Amhara Regional State

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Addis Ababa University


The overall purpose of this thesis is to examine the role of religious institutions in rural community development with a particular reference to Sellasie Monastery of Debre Elias Woreda. A cross-sectional study design of qualitative research approach was used emphasizing on a phenomological methodology. Hence, in-depth interviews, Focus Group Discussions, and field observation have been used to generate primary data. Accordingly, study participants have been selected from ascetic members, services users and surrounding community residents of the study monastery whose information and/or data were thematically organized and analyzed. The study found out that, unless supplemented by hard working followed by helping others in need, each and every religious based activity among members of the study monastery are meaningless and will be ineffective. In view of that, activities being undertaken in the study monastery have an influence on livelihoods, social attachments and psycho-social conditions of people in the study area and nearby rural community members to be improved. At the same time, continual misunderstandings are being raised with those activities being carried out in the monastery, predominantly related with issues of (religious) healing practices and bio diversity. The study revealed that community members of the study monastery are playing their own role in the reduction of harmful traditional practices (including criminal acts), and for the improvement of health, community mobilization, social solidarity at the expense of differences in background, as well as income being generated by residents of both monastic and surrounding community members. The study further reveals that lack of doing things through appropriate time plan followed by inability to lead a better socio-conomic life among most rural community residents in the study area are being considered as a result of values and beliefs of EOTC due to large number of saint days within a month while there are a number of works being done in these days that are equivalent to “working” days. Creation of ideological and socio-economic polarizations among EOTC followers themselves, the existence of higher level of EOTC leaders who want to wreck the monastery down, consideration of the monastic community as a trade center than a religious one, and human-made firing of forest in the desert where the monastery is established are challenges faced by the study monastery



Religion; Rural Community Development; Livelihood Strategy; Social Attachment; Challenges; Monastery