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History and ministry
“Light of Life” is the English translation of the Amharic name Yehiwot Berhan.
The American United Presbyterian Mission founded the girls’ school near its Teferi Mekonnen Hospital (now the Ethiopian Public Health Institute) in the Addis Ababa suburb of Gullale.
The girls’ school admitted its first students in 1925. In the 1960s, a Pentecostal Church called Hiwot Berhan became known throughout Ethiopia. To avoid confusion, the school was renamed Bethel Mekane Yesus School in _ _ _ (early 1980s?).
Elizabeth Karorsa was the directess of the school from 1960-1977, i.e. at the time of the foundation of the Light of Life [Yehiwot Berhan] Girls’ School Choir (cf. Ahrens / Ebise, In Memory, p. 151).
The webmaster of this site does not know the founding year of the Choir. The Light of Life Girls’ School Choir was one of the four choirs known by name whose songs were included in the hymn book Kälǝb ǝnəzämǝr (1972) by Getachew Mikre, a founding member of Mulu Wongel Choir). Choir member Almaz Belihu had submitted her song Mən aynät fəqər näw for a hymn contest around 1970. Therefore, we might assume that the choir was founded in the late 1960s.
Possible inspirations for the foundation of the Choir in the late 1960s (growing out of the School’s regular devotions?):
- Elizabeth Karorsa’s upbringing in Dembi Dollo] (Rev. Gidada Solon, boarding school, etc.)
- Services at the Gullale Bethel congregation (Rev. Mammo Chorqa et al.)
- Elizabeth’s Karorsa’s marriage with Captain Tessama Erenna (connected to A.A. Mekane Yesus Congregation; Shaleqa Girmay Hadgu & Tirunesh Yimer; Hirut Bekele?)
- Performances of the Araya family choir (including songwriters und singers Emnet and Hiwot Araya) in schools, congregations and media
- Meriha Iwran School [for the Blind] Choir
(establ. around 1955; connected to Mennonite missionaries)
Singers connected to the Light of Life Girls’ School Choir:
- Almaz Belihu
- Aster Dibaba
- _ _ _ ?
American missionary connected to the Light of Life Girls’ School in the 1970s:
- Jo Ann Griffiths
Ahrens, Christel, and Ebise Ashana (eds.). In Memory of Them: Women witnessing to Christ in Ethiopia (1870-2019). Zürich: LIT.
Debela Birri. Divine Plan Unfolding: The Story of Ethiopian Evangelical Church Bethel. Minneapolis, MN: Lutheran Univ. Press, 2014.