Meserete Kristos Church Addis Ababa Choir (MKC AA Choir) is one of the most renowned choirs of adult gospel singers in Ethiopia. It was founded in the capital city, Addis Ababa, on 28 April 1973, by the initiative of MKC Evangelist Dagne Assefa and the strong leadership of the elders of the MKC congregation located near Olympia Furniture and Equipment Enterprise (across Dembel Commercial Centre in Bole sub-city). Mr Mustefa Ali was the first choir leader and musician (accordion), who highly supported the church in organising the choir ministry.
As the years went by, young, active members with unique abilities, personalities and experiences, ministering to each other and further persons, emerged within the choir and passed God’s varied grace (1Peter 4:10). These members included [in alphabetical order]
- Belayneh G/Hana (editor, leader and Bible teacher)
- Berhanu Dereba (guitarist, songwriter, choir property caretaker)
- Bisrat Worku (guitar player, songwriter)
- Daniel G/Yesus (lead guitarist, songwriter, music composer)
- Dereje Kebede (songwriter, music composer, editor, guitar player and soloist)
- Elias Mussie (accordion player and leader)
- Eyerusalem Teshome (songwriter, music composer, soloist)
- Fekade Siraj (songwriter, music composer)
- Girma Engida (editor, leader/organizer)
- Gizachew Worku (lead guitar player, music composer, songwriter, leader and soloist, Bible teacher)
- Meaza Abebe (songwriter, music composer)
- Meseretab Tamirat (songwriter, editor, music composer, leader)
- Million Kebede (songwriter, music composer, active choir member)
- Dr Samuel Tefera (music composer, songwriter, leader, editor)
- Samson Desta (songwriter, music composer and writer)
- Solomon Demissie (accordion and synthesiser player, music composer, songwriter, senior leader)
- Talu Dana (songwriter, editor)
- Tamirat Wolba (leader, guitar player, music composer, songwriter and soloist)
- Workalemahu Terefe (songwriter, music composer, editor, guitar player and soloist)
- Zerihun Abate (guitar player).
The choir began its official public ministry with special cloth set for the church’s annual conference in 1973. It was on this occasion that the name Meserete Kristos Church Addis Ababa Choir was assigned to it. At the beginning of the ministry, there were 15 men and 12 women, for a total of 27 members. A few months later, more members were added, including Bisrat Worku, Deneke Belay, Dereje Kebede and Million Kebede, bringing the number to 33.
This gospel choir group faced many challenges during the Ethiopian Revolution (1974-1991). In October 1974, the socialist government launched its Edigete Beheberet Yeweketena Yesera Zemecha (“Development through Cooperation Campaign”). All senior high school and university students were called for a two-years rural community development service. This brought significant changes to the choir members’ lives. Most of them were forced to leave their home area and church and educate villagers in community development, reading and writing Amharic, basic arithmetics, etc. The socialist doctrine spread far and wide and brought undesired cultural changes. The revolutionary youth of that time went to the extent of directly opposing Evangelical Christian teachings, openly denying the existence of God, confiscating Bibles, etc.
The persecution of Christian believers by government leaders and followers of socialist ideology resulted in the church’s closing and the nationalisation of its properties and assets. The Meserete Kristos Church (MKC) Addis Ababa Choir lost its brand new musical instruments and related items. Many of its members were pressured and thrown into local prisons; some were lucky enough to escape and migrate to different countries.
Despite the growing challenges, MKC and its choir ministry could not be stopped. The bitter things―persecution and the like―started to change into unexpected immense opportunities and evolved into better Christian life-changing styles. The choir ministry continued in the underground homes of selected committed Christian leaders and families, focusing and centring on the cross, just like believers in the New Testament book of Acts did. These underground gatherings were organised and accepted by their mother church, Meserete Kristos Church, as home chapels. The choir rendered its service by dividing itself into smaller groups in the many home chapels.
The joining and re-joining of young charismatic and energetic but humble choir members like Belayneh G/Hanna, Bisrat Worku, Dereje Kebede, Getachew Tesfaye, Getahun Ayele, Gizachew Worku, Million Kebede, Samson Desta, Tamirat Wolba and Workalemahu Terefe contributed significantly to the growth and progress of the choir’s ministry. It included gearing the choir ministry to its call, equipping and preparing members for building the Kingdom of God, writing and composing numerous and more spiritual hymns, solid biblical teaching and prayers sessions, the admission of musicians with improved skills and the change of musical instruments like box guitar and accordion to electric guitar and synthesisers.
These build-ups grew warmer through fellowship, deeper through discipleship, stronger through worship and broader through ministry. The Holy Spirit’s guidance and the Lord’s grace coupled with the flourishing of new enthusiastic and biblically centred praise songs, the gifts and talents of its members paved the way for strengthening the choir ministry and timely comfort to the believers. The choir’s continuously released songs encouraged the believers to become calm and carry on, specifically to be strong and courageous in the strength and grace of the Lord and to fulfil His Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20).
The choir group was highly encouraged and blessed by the recruitment of more new youngsters, who had profound commitment and passion for exploring and enhancing their spirituality through gospel songs and engaged proactively towards strengthening and maintaining the sustainability of the choir ministry. As a result of the Lord’s great assistance and guidance, the choir continued building reforms, nourishments and leaders’ choir successive plans. The gospel choir has been serving on a higher level with its 30 senior members, consisting of 16 men and 14 women.
Note that these members are not from one congregation but brought together from several MKC churches within Addis Ababa. Also, the regular choir service is not fixed to one congregation. A six-month service plan is formulated with the concerned elders of Meserete Kristos congregations and other evangelical churches and partner organisations. The services are then conducted according to this scheduled program, both within and outside Addis Ababa.
Through the years, the choir has been aiming to give God the glory, honour, and praise He deserves, using its spiritual music and the gifts of the individual members. This group of adults regularly comes together before His presence and amid His children, gathering with thanksgiving and exalting Him with music and songs. The gospel choir will always continue to serve with humility and passion.
The special public services that Meserete Kristos Church Addis Ababa Choir choir contributed to the believers’ community include:
- Organised special events at the National Lottery Hall at Addis Ababa in August 1973 to pray for the country people affected by drought and collected relief assistance and gifts for those who encountered food shortages.
- Sang for seven consecutive years until 1980 during the annual one week Evangelical Churches Conference held at Nazareth (aka Adama) Bible Academy.
- Served on the various grand conferences organised by Ethiopian evangelical churches such as Mulu Wongel, Mekane Yesus, Kale Hiwot, Hiywot Berhan and the Ethiopian Orthodox Church (Holy Trinity Cathedral).
- Participated in open-air national level prayer gatherings at Jal Meda, Addis Ababa Stadium and several other places. The choir also conducted a grand prayer and word sharing meeting at the Ethiopian Parliament building in 1976.
The choir members are dressed in simple, golden yellow, loose-fitting quality robes outfitted with a reinforced shoulder yoke and stylishly designed white triangular neck with a bold red cross at the centre as a sign of loving and serving God and people. The uniquely dressed MKC AA Choir is also informally known in the Amharic language as Beecha (“Yellow”) Choir. In most cultures, the yellow colour symbolises sunshine, happiness, cheerfulness, warmth, praise and positivity.
The MKC AA Choir has a mission to inspire, encourage and nurture one another towards a deeper faith in Jesus Christ through spiritual songs, prayer, praise, and proclaiming the Word of God. Choral singing has been considered the most outspread form of art performance in Ethiopia. The Meserete Kristos Choir is a group without significant formal music education requirements but profound commitment, great passion and humility. It will continue its ministry, believing that it is an excellent opportunity to serve in the Kingdom of God. The choir members also firmly believe that they are people learning to lead and encourage others to have faith in Christ by living a life of faith, that is, in calling, competence and Christian character.
Over the last 46 years, the choir had the opportunity to minister in public and through audio recordings. It has produced over 800 songs; some of them are recorded on cassettes, CDs, DVDs, and videos. Seven of the published music albums can be read and watched on the Android app “MKC Choir AA Mezmur Lyrics” and through numerous Amharic TV programs, e.g. Elshadai Television Network. At times, the choir made tours to serve God the Almighty at various locations in Ethiopia and abroad, including South Africa and the United States. The LORD has also opened doors to minister with other choirs on several gospel festivals and conferences in Addis Ababa under the umbrellas of Evangelical Churches Fellowship of Ethiopia and Ethiopian Gospel Believers’ Churches Council.
» View discography
Lyrics and sheet music
» View published songs and manuscripts
» Listen to selected albums and songs
» Watch selected worship songs
Magazine published at the occasion of the choir’s 40th anniversary
» Read online
Hege, Nathan B. (1998). Beyond Our Prayers: Anabaptist Church Growth in Ethiopia, 1948-1998. Scottdale and Waterloo: Herald Press. [Esp. pp. 159-160]
Yeshitela Mengistu (1983). The Story of the Meserete Kristos Church. BTh thesis. Addis Ababa: Mekane Yesus Seminary.