Planning for a Faithful Future
Download this story as a Bulletin Insert
Our Redeemer Oromo Evangelical Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, has been called many things — contagious, passionate, spontaneous — but "complacent" is not in this congregation's vocabulary.
"The church is getting older and there will not be another generation coming unless we teach them," said Masresha Gemechu, coordinator of youth and children's ministry and the English-language program.
Our Redeemer is the largest African National congregation in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) and one of the fastest growing congregations in the ELCA Minneapolis Area Synod. The congregation, led by the Rev. Melkamu Negeri, draws more than 600 Oromo-speaking worshipers from across the Twin Cities weekly.
Oromo is one of more than 80 languages spoken in the East African nation of Ethiopia.
Our Redeemer received a renewable ministry grant to reach "second-generation immigrants" — youth and young adults who emigrated from Ethiopia as children or who were born in the United States.
With local partners, Our Redeemer has taken medical and humanitarian trips to Ethiopia and supported Oromo refugees in Kenya and Sudan. And it has provided leadership training and support for those launching Oromo congregations across the country.
Masresha said that the English-language ministry "is not only for Oromo ... we are planning, with the grace of God, to reach others" in the neighborhood.
- Since 2001, Our Redeemer Oromo Evangelical Church has nearly doubled its membership, making it one of the fastest-growing congregations in the ELCA Minneapolis Area Synod.
- On June 21, Lutherans commemorate Onesimos Nesib, an Oromo man who translated the Bible into the Oromo language. Nesib laid the foundation for evangelical mission in Ethiopia.
- There are more than 30 Oromo-speaking worshiping communities affiliated with the ELCA. Major centers for Oromo immigrants include Minneapolis, Washington, D.C., and Silver Springs, Md.