Local Leaders Look to Building Construction as a Symbol of Their Faith

  By Naomi Harper, Church News Contributor

  • 31 August 2012

The first LDS chapel in Ethiopia is being built on the highway between the cities of Addis Ababa and Adama.

“Every time I go by the new building I am reminded of our covenants. Like when Captain Moroni raised the title of liberty, I am strengthened.” —Efrem Aemero Mekonen, Debre Zeit Branch president

Those traveling north to Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Ababa, or south to Adama, will inevitably see the beautiful new Debre Zeit meetinghouse, located on Debre Zeit Highway (H4).

Ashebir Yirga, first counselor in the Addis Ababa District, said, “This is a number one location, a diamond location. It is very, very good land.

“This is a nice building,” he said. “It is ‘G plus two,’ which means ‘ground plus two floors.’ There are two main halls with different rooms for Young Women, Young Men, elders quorum, high priest group, and Relief Society meetings. There is also a large underground parking garage.”

President Yirga was indirectly involved in the building of the new Debre Zeit meetinghouse. At the time of the purchase of the property, he, as the mayor’s adviser, told the mayor that allowing the Church to purchase the property to build a meetinghouse would be of benefit to the city of Debre Zeit.

Mubaree Nuri, representative of Ell Issayas and Heours Construction Company, a respected and recognized construction company in Addis Ababa known for its work at the embassy, said, “Our company was chosen through the tender process. Our work was compared to others, and we were selected.” He stated that the new meetinghouse “is special from other buildings. It is more beautiful and different from other church buildings.”

The majority of the 94 million people in Ethiopia are Christian, and more than 104,215 people live in Debre Zeit. President Ashebir Yirga and his wife, Hiwot, were the first Ethiopians to be sealed as a couple; their sealing was in the Johannesburg South Africa Temple.

More important than the technical aspects of the meetinghouse is how it serves as a symbol of faith to the branch members who have been meeting in residential property not far from the new building construction.

Debre Zeit Branch president Efrem Aemero Mekonen said, “Every time I go by the new building I am reminded of our covenants. Like when Captain Moroni raised the title of liberty, I am strengthened.”